XI Men’s Pan American Championship – Gold Medal Game
Parana, Argentina – The Canadian Men’s National Softball Team won the silver medal after dropping a 4-1 decision to Argentina at the XI Pan American Championship. Canada jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first but three consecutive homeruns by Argentina in the top of the fourth inning made the difference.
Team Canada had the momentum early in the game, with catcher Bryan Abrey (Richmond, B.C.) throwing out the first of two runners on the day on a steal attempt in the top of the first. The red and white used that momentum to open the scoring in the bottom of the inning when Bradley Ezekiel (Harbour Main, N.L.) hit a solo homerun to center for the 1-0 lead.
The pitching took over from there, as Canada’s Sean Cleary (Harbour Main, N.L.) retired Argentina in order in each of the second and third innings, while Argentina’s Huemul Mata did the same to Canada in the second. Canada put some pressure on Mata in the bottom of the third, as Justin Laskowski (Warman, Sask.) hit a one-out single and Ezekiel was walked, but both runners were left stranded. After Cleary struck out the first batter in the fourth, Manuel Godoy hit a solo blast to right to get the crowd into the game, and the next two pitches were also taken deep by Bruno Motroni and Juan Zara as Argentina took a 3-1 lead, spelling the end for Cleary as Devon McCullough (Saskatoon, Sask.) came into the game.
Looking to get back into the game, Canada got a leadoff single by Jason Hill (St. John’s, N.L.) in the bottom of the fourth and a single up the middle by Blake Hunter (Nanaimo B.C.) later in the inning, but Mata struck out the other three batters to hold Canada to a two-run deficit. Argentina added another insurance run in the top of the fifth, as Federico Eder led off by dropping a hit into shallow left field for a double and scored on a single by Francisco Lombardo. Canada got one baserunner on with a walk in each of the fifth and sixth innings but was unable to move those runners over, and Laskowski hit a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but Canada couldn’t push anything across, ending the game with a deep fly caught by the right fielder and the pinch runner being doubled off trying to advance to second.
Box Score: Argentina 4 vs. Canada 1
Cleary took the loss in the pitcher’s circle, yielding three runs on three hits and striking out five batters over three innings and a third. McCullough pitched the last three innings and two thirds, allowing one run while scattering five hits and striking out six. After his first inning homerun, Argentina avoided pitching to Ezekiel by walking him twice. Laskowski singled twice, with Hill and Hunter each adding one.
Despite the loss in the gold medal game, Canada has qualified for the 2022 WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup that will take place from November 26 to December 4 in New Zealand. They will be joined by Argentina, Cuba and the United States from the WBSC Americas region. Cuba defeated the United States 11-6 to claim the bronze medal at the event. Venezuela finished fifth and Guatemala sixth.-SC-
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