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LIMA 2019: Panas drives in five as Canada outlasts Cuba

LIMA, Peru – Connor Panas (Etobicoke, ON) belted a three-run homer in the first inning and finished with five runs batted in as Canada's men's baseball team earned an 8-6 win over Cuba on day two of the Pan Am Games baseball competition.

Jordan Lennerton (Langley, BC) added three RBI while Chris Leroux (Mississauga, ON) provided Canada with three scoreless innings of relief work on the mound to keep Cuba’s explosive offence off the scoreboard.

“Tonight was a big win for us,” said Manager Ernie Whitt. “Cuba is always a good team but we had some guys, Leroux and Panas, who stepped up and performed for us tonight.”

The win gives Canada a 2-0 record in Group B play setting up a showdown for first place with 2-0 Colombia on Thursday. Both Canada and Colombia are assured of advancing to super round play that will get underway on Friday.

“Our focus is to win every game,” continued Whitt. “Right now, we’re looking towards Colombia with a chance to move into the next round with a perfect record.”

Panas’s first inning homer sailed over the wall in right field giving Canada an early 3-0 lead setting the tone for a Canadian offence that wound up with ten hits.

“Any way I can help my team is just huge,” said Panas following the game. “It’s pretty special being out there with the guys and I’m glad I was able to contribute to our win tonight.”

After allowing a pair of runs in the first, starting pitcher Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, ON) retired the next ten batters he faced before Cuba struck for back-to-back home runs with two out in the fourth to tie the score, 4-4.

Canada retook the lead when Panas connected on a bases loaded single in the fifth that brought in two runs before Jordan Lennerton lifted a sac fly to centerfield tto make it 7-4.

Cuba kept coming however and in the bottom of the inning strung together four hits off reliever Ryan Kellogg (Whitby, ON) to score two runs to pull their deficit to one run.

Enter Chris Leroux who retired the first six batters he faced on groundouts before getting out of a two-out jam in the eighth, with runners on first and second, as a lineout to third baseman Eric Wood (Oshawa, ON) ended the threat.

Canada loaded the bases in the ninth on singles from Wes Darvill (Langley, BC) and Tristan Pompey (Mississauga, ON) who each enjoyed multi-hit games while Wood drew a walk before Lennerton grounded out to first base to score a valuable insurance run.

Dustin Molleken (Regina, SK) then worked a perfect ninth inning to record the save.

UP NEXT: Canada will get an off day on Wednesday before facing Colombia on Thursday (11AM ET) at the Del Triunfo Baseball Field in Lima…RHP Scott Richmond (Vancouver, BC) is scheduled to start on the mound for Canada.

To stay up-to-date with Canada’s men’s baseball team in Lima be sure to follow @baseballcanada on Twitter.

To follow the Pan Am Games baseball competition including standings, box scores and statistics, please visit the Official Lima 2019 website.