Courtesy of Adam Morrissette at Baseball Canada
Lagos de Moreno, Mexico-A 5-3, semi-final win over host Mexico has propelled Canada into Tuesday’s gold medal contest at the Pan Am Games. Canada will take-on the Unites States and attempt to win the countries first ever gold medal in a major international baseball event at the senior level.
Over 5,000 raucous Mexican fans were sent home disappointed as the Canadians celebrated the victory.
“It feels great,” said Canadian Manager, Ernie Whitt of the win over Mexico. “Our goal at the beginning of the tournament was to win gold and we’ve put ourselves in a position to do so.”
Things did not start well for Canada as Mexico took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on the strength of a three-run homer off Canadian starter, Shawn Hill (Mississauga, ON).
“You hate to get behind that early, but we had the confidence to come back,” explained Whitt. “We knew that we had eight more innings left to play.”
Canada answered back in the top of the second with two runs to cut the lead to one. With two runners on, Jamie Romak (London, ON) ripped a double to left field to bring in a run and a wild-pitch followed that scored Brock Kjeldgaard (London, ON) from third base.
Hill shook off the homerun he let up in the first and settled in nicely allowing only two base runners during the remainder of his outing. Hill threw five innings total and fanned three batters along the way.
“Pitching is about throwing a hitters timing off and Shawn did that tonight,” said Whitt.
Before Hill’s outing was complete, Canada had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth. Chris Robinson (Dorchester, ON) and Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) hit back-to-back singles and Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) walked to load the bases.
Mexico decided to make a pitching change and Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) greeted the new pitcher with a single to centerfield to score Robinson with the tying run. With Smith now standing on third, a wild-pitch allowed him to score the go ahead run to quiet the Mexican crowd.
Canada added another run in the sixth when Skyler Stromsmoe (Bow Island, AB) belted a solo homerun over the fence in right field.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit so it was nice to get that one,” said Stromsmoe. “It gave us a little momentum and shut theirs down.”
Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK) came on in relief of Hill and provided Canada with two solid innings on the mound. Molleken worked his way out of a jam in the sixth where runners were on the corners with two out by getting an infield pop-up that was caught by Bowman.
After Molleken threw a scoreless seventh Chris Kissock (Trail, BC) came on and pitched a three-up, three-down eighth that saw Stromsmoe make a defensive gem for the second out of the inning that saved a sure hit.
In the ninth with the Mexican crowd at their feet, the lead-off hitter reached first base when Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) committed an error at shortstop. Malo redeemed himself on the very next play as he fielded a ball and flipped to Stromsmoe to start a double play.
Kissock then caught a comebacker to the mound, threw to first to end the game and send Canada to tomorrow’s gold medal final.
Canada will now turn their focus towards the United States who defeated Cuba 12-10 earlier today.
“The US has been swinging the bat extremely well lately,” commented Whitt. “We’re going to have to pitch well, play sound defence and hopefully our hitters will come through.”
Notes: It is expected that Andrew Albers (North Battleford, SK) will start for Canada in the gold medal game which gets underway at 7pm CT.Unfortunately there is no television coverage or live streaming of the gold medal game in Canada.The following link: http://deportesmx.terra.com.mx/rumbo-a-2012/guadalajara-2011/ will have a live stream of the gold medal game, but is not available in Canada.Live scoring can be found by visiting www.usabaseball.com.You can also receive LIVE in-game updated by following Baseball Canada on Twitter: www.twitter.com/baseballcanada