Lagos de Moreno, Mexico-Canada held off a ninth inning surge from Puerto Rico to win their Pan Am Games opener by a score of 5-4.
Canada looked to have a comfortable three-run lead heading to the bottom of the ninth before Puerto Rico scored a run and had the bases loaded with two outs. After hitting a batter to make the score 5-4, Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK) induced a ground ball to first base for the final out.
“We got the win,” said Canadian Manager, Ernie Whitt. “We got into a little funk at the end but our guys battled and we came out on top.”
Canada had built a 5-1 lead through 7 ½ innings thanks to a balanced offensive attack and solid pitching performances from starter Shawn Hill (Mississauga, ON) and Andrew Albers (North Battleford, SK).
“Shawn did a great job again for us and Andrew came in and worked out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth,” added Whitt.
After Hill threw five innings and only gave-up a run on three hits, Albers came in and got into trouble after loading the bases with only one out. Puerto Rico was denied of causing any damage when a ground ball to Shawn Bowman (Port Moody, BC) at third base was flipped to second and on to first base for an inning ending double-play.
Canada had opened the scoring in the second inning when Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) ripped a double into left field to score Bowman who had previously doubled.
Tim Smith (Toronto, ON) added to Canada’s lead in the third by belting a solo homerun over the right field fence.
Puerto Rico scored their lone run off Hill in the fourth when a lead-off double came around to score on a single.
Canada added two runs in the seventh as Skyler Stromsmoe (Bow Island, AB) came up with a sacrifice-fly to score one run and Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) singled to left field to score Malo with two out.
Bowman led-off the eighth with his second double of the game and after a Cole Armstrong (Surrey, BC) single, Brock Kjeldgaard (London, ON) stepped to the plate a delivered a sac-fly to score Bowman. Bowman’s run turned out to be the game winner.
Canada will now turn their attention towards the powerful Cubans tomorrow night (7pm CT). The match-up with Cuba comes less than a week after Cuba beat Canada 8-2 at the World Cup in Panama.
“We’re going to go with experience and pitch Mike Johnson (Edmonton, AB) against Cuba,” explained Whitt. “We’re hoping that he can keep them off-stride tomorrow and off the fastball. If he can get his breaking ball over (for a strike) tomorrow, I think we have a chance.”
Notes: The Official Pan American Games website is providing updated box scores of each game every half inning. Please click HERE to visit their website…You can also follow all of the action from all of Canada’s games with REAL TIME updates by following Baseball Canada on Twitter (www.twitter.com/baseballcanada).