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Early deficit too much for Canada to overcome

Lagos de Moreno, Mexico-Canada had no answer for Cuba’s offence early-on as the Cubans built a seven run lead through three innings. The Canadians made a valiant effort to comeback but came up on the losing end of a 9-5 decision. The loss puts Canada’s record at one win and one loss (1-1) heading into Saturday’s must-win contest with Venezuela at the Pan Am Games.

“I’m proud of our guys,” said Canadian Manager, Ernie Whitt. “We had some good at-bats and we didn’t give-up. We were within striking distance towards the end.”

The Cubans struck twice in the top of the first, courtesy of two, two-out solo homeruns off Canadian starter Mike Johnson (Edmonton, AB). A five-run third inning followed that included a grand-slam from Cuba’s Dariel Abreu. The homerun was hit off Scott Richmond (Vancouver, BC) who entered the game with the bases-loaded and nobody out.

“You can’t pitch around one guy because the next guy is just as good of a hitter,” said Whitt of the Cuban offence that had eighteen hits during the game.

Down 7-0 in the fourth, Brock Kjeldgaard (London, ON) led the inning off with a double and later crossed home plate when Tim Smith’s (Toronto, ON) ground ball got by the Cuban second baseman.

Mark Hardy (Campbell River, BC) did a nice job coming out of the Canadian bullpen and gave his team three innings on the mound, giving up one run on three hits.

The Cuban run came in the sixth and Canada responded with two in the bottom half of the inning. Jimmy Van Ostrand (Richmond, BC) hit a ball off the hands that landed in right field to score Skyler Stromsmoe (Bow Island, AB) from third base.

After Canada loaded the bases, Jamie Romak (London, ON) delivered a sacrifice-fly to right field that brought in the other run.

Both teams traded runs in the ninth before Cuba’s Jonder Martinez struck out Kjeldgaard to end the game.

“Everything has to go right for us to beat Cuba,” explained Whitt. “Hopefully we’ll get that chance later in the tournament.”

“Whether we beat them tonight or not, we still have to beat Venezuela on Saturday.”

A win against Venezuela Saturday would give Canada a spot in one of Monday’s two semi-final games.

“We’ve got to come out and be ready to play (Saturday),” added Whitt. “With the off-day tomorrow, we’ll be ready to go. We’re going to utilize everything we have to win against Venezuela.”

Kyle Lotzkar (Delta, BC) is expected to start for Canada a little more than a week after he pitched five shutout innings against Venezuela at the World Cup in Panama. Canada went on to win that game 7-0.

“Kyle’s going to start for us and hopefully he can give us some quality innings,” continued Whitt. “With the off-day (tomorrow), we’ll have the entire bullpen ready behind him.”

Notes: Jonathan Malo (Joliette, QC) continues to swing a hot bat for Canada as he had two hits against Cuba, including a RBI triple in the ninth inning...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 (