Canada Finishes Sixth at X Pan American Men’s Softball Championship
Softball Canada – Santo Domingo, D.R. – The Canadian Men’s National Team suffered its third straight setback by one run after losing 3-2 to Cuba at the X Pan American Men’s Softball Championship. Cuba jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning and held strong over the last five innings to secure the fifth and final spot for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
Cuba got a pair of base runners with two outs in the top of the first inning on a walk and a hit by pitch but the next batter grounded into a fielder’s choice. The following inning, Cuba got a leadoff single followed by a double just inside the third base line that allowed the runner to score from first, and the batter advanced to third when the left fielder misplayed the ball. The following batter hit a safety squeeze bunt to the pitcher and beat the throw to first to score the runner from third, followed by a double and a wild pitch as Cuba took the 3-0 lead.
Looking to respond in the bottom of the inning, Canada got a one-out single to right by Bryn Redhead (Leduc, Alta.) before Kyle Cowick (Sooke, B.C.) hit a towering homerun over the centerfield fence to bring Canada within one. Both teams drew a walk in the third but were unable to score, while Cuba got a pair of singles and a walk in the fourth but Canada got out of the inning unscathed. The red and white had a glorious chance to tie the game and perhaps take the lead in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with no outs on a single to center by Bryan Abrey (Richmond, B.C.), an infield single by Redhead and a hit by pitch to Cowick. However, the next batter lined out to shortstop followed by a pair of strikeouts as Cuba escaped the inning with the lead.
After a quick fifth inning, Cuba was looking to add to its lead in the top of the sixth by putting two runners on base with a walk and a single. The next batter hit a single to left, but the runner on second was thrown out at home by Cowick from left field to keep Canada within one run. The following batter cracked a line drive near the first base line that was snagged by Patrick Burns (Saskatoon, Sask.) as Canada avoided the threat.
Canada got a pair of two-out base runners on a walk and a hit by pitch in the bottom half of the sixth but a strikeout ended the inning. In the seventh, Canada tried to make things happen late again as Kyle Ezekiel (Holyrood, N.L.) hit a one-out single in the hole at shortstop, but the next batter lined out hard to the first baseman who dove onto the bag for a game ending double play.
Box Score: Cuba 3 vs. Canada 2
Scott Lieph (Sooke, B.C.) started the game in the pitcher’s circle for Canada and allowed all three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out two in an inning and two thirds. Jason Hill (St. John’s, N.L.) threw two innings and a third of scoreless relief, giving up three hits and three walks and struck out five batters. Devon McCullough (Saskatoon, Sask.) came in for the final three innings, holding Cuba to three hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Cowick’s two-run blast was the only big hit Canada could muster, with Redhead hitting a pair of singles and Ezekiel and Abrey each getting one to round out Canada’s five hits.
Canada finished sixth with the loss, failing to qualify for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
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