It's usually obvious when a team is playing its first game at the Little League World Series. Nerves take over and a lot of mistakes are made in front of large crowds.
That wasn't the case for Canadian Region champ Vancouver, B.C., on Friday afternoon at Volunteer Stadium.
In its opening game, Canada pounded out 13 runs on 13 hits while playing highlight-reel defense in a 13-9 win over Mexico.
A seven-run first inning that saw 13 batters come to the plate set the tone for the Hastings Community Little League team.
The lead didn't last, though, as Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, rallied with seven runs of its own in the second inning to tie the game at 8-all.
Canada bounced back quickly, answering with two more runs in the third inning before eventually pulling away over the last four frames.
"It's an awesome feeling (getting the win) after a team put on an offensive clinic," said Canada manager Vito Bordignon. "Our defense couldn't do too much, though, as seven of those runs were hit out of the park."
Despite scoring 13 runs, the highlights of the game came on the defensive end.
Canada's Thomas Neal made a highlight-reel catch in the third inning to rob Eduardo Abrego of a hit. Neal tracked the ball to the left-center field gap before diving and making the catch.
"The moment I saw it I had a feeling he was going to catch it," said Canada pitcher Ataru Yamaguchi. "I told him he was my best friend now."
The great defense didn't stop there, as Canada's Carter Kada-Wong made a leaping catch in the fifth inning while Mexico turned two double plays of its own.
"Our defense has been the strongest part of our team," Bordignon said. "It's something that was expected."
While Canada, as a team, stole the show on offense and defense, it was Mexico's Ramon Ballina who had the biggest impact offensively for his team.
Ballina, who started on the mound for Mexico and allowed seven earned runs and walked four while recording just one out, hit two monstrous solo home runs. The first was a towering shot to left-center field, coming in the second inning, and the second, a line drive to the opposite field, was hit in the fourth inning.
"We have had games like this with Ramon," Mexico manager Fernando Rios said through an interpreter. "He is a great pitcher but sometimes he doesn't have his strongest outing. This time he was able to come back with his hitting."
Mexico hit four home runs while scattering 14 hits. The home runs probably won't be a common thing, though.
"We don't rely on just power," Rios said. "We have very good contact hitters but they didn't have a good game today."
Along with the double-digit hit total, Canada walked 10 times against five Mexico pitchers, with six of the walks coming in the seven-run first inning.
"We are a very disciplined team," Bordignon said. "We want to make sure the pitcher throws strikes and we want to avoid chasing any bad pitches."
With the win, Canada managed to beat a team from a traditionally strong region in Mexico. The loss for Mexico, however, makes things extremely tough from now on in the double-elimination tournament.
"It's unbelievable," Bordignon said. "They (Mexico) are always a powerhouse and it's huge in the double-elimination round."