US baseball falls to Canada at Pan Am
With one swing of the bat, Jimmy Van Ostrand drove in the only two runs Canada needed to beat the United States 2-1 Tuesday and win the gold medal at the Pan American Games.
Van Ostrand stepped up to the plate with two men on base in the top of the sixth inning and doubled down the right field line to bring in Chris Robinson and Tim Smith. Both Robinson and Smith had two-out singles to start the rally.
"We’ve finally accomplished what we set out to do," said Canada manager Ernie Whitt, a 15-year major league player. "I am so proud of these guys. They’ve worked so hard for this and didn’t give up."
The gold was Canada’s first at the Pan American Games, a competition that has been dominated by Cuba for 40 years. The Cubans had won 10 straight titles until the United States defeated them 12-10 in Monday’s semifinals. They instead had to settle for bronze.
Canada beat Mexico in the other semifinal to get a chance at gold, and they didn’t let the chance slip away.
Andrew Albers started for Canada and gave up six hits while striking out eight through 6 2-3 innings. Scott Richmond came on in relief and shut down the Americans, striking out three of the seven batters he faced without surrendering a hit.
"Our guys played their hearts out," U.S. manager Ernie Young said. "I wanted so bad for those guys to win a gold medal. We just came up one run short."
The Americans took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning at the Pan Am Baseball Stadium. A.J. Pollock singled through the right side with one out and advanced to second on a passed ball with two down.
Brett Carroll then doubled down the left field line to bring in Pollock and give the U.S. an early lead.
Andy Ven Hekken pitched seven innings for the Americans, and gave up both runs on six hits. Jeff Beliveau pitched the eighth, giving up one hit, and Pete Andrelczyk came on in the ninth.
"In every international baseball tournament there is a surprise team that comes out, plays their heart out and wins the event," Young said. "Canada played unbelievably throughout the tournament. They only lost one game.
"You only lose one game, you deserve to win."