Lefthander Andrew Albers (Twins) pitched into the seventh inning, and Jimmy Van Ostrand (Astros) hit a two-run double to give him all the offense he needed as Canada beat Team USA 2-1 to win the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Canada's victory earned the first baseball gold medal for the country at a senior level. Canada's best international finishes previously were bronze medals in the last two World Cups, earlier this month and in 2009.
Albers, who pitched collegiately at Kentucky, was the star, pitching out of the stretch and pounding the zone aggressively throughout. He struck out eight and walked none in 6 2/3 innings, giving up a first-inning run but dominating the rest of the way against an American lineup that put up three double-digit scoring outbursts in the previous four Pan Am contests.
"It was all about getting ahead and staying down in the zone with my fastball," Albers said in a postgame phone interview. "I was able to command the fastball, got ahead and got some great help from my defense, and my catcher Cole Armstrong called a great game. We really got in a rhythm tonight."
Veteran lefty Andy Van Hekken (Astros) matched Albers through the early innings, but lost his way with two outs and none on in the sixth. Chris Robinson (Cubs) singled, followed by an opposite-field single by Tim Smith (Royals). Van Ostrand then lined a double down the right-field line, scoring Robinson easily. Right fielder Brett Carroll (Red Sox) fielded and threw to second, and Smith alertly raced all the way around from first with the go-ahead run. [...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball's World Cup/Pan Am Games team got its biggest victory of the fall Monday afternoon, taking a 10-run lead and barely holding on to beat Cuba 12-10 at the Pan American Games. The victory put the Americans into the gold-medal game Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern against Canada, which beat host Mexico 5-3 Tuesday night.
It also ends Cuba's uninterrupted string of Pan Am golds. The United States won the Pan Am baseball competition in 1967, and Cuba has won every four years since then—10 consecutive tournaments since 1971. That string has included wins against amateur American clubs, such as in 2007 in Brazil and 1987 in Indianapolis, as well as the 1999 Pan Ams in Winnipeg, Canada, the first one with professionals in the baseball competition.
USA Baseball's pros lost 8-7 to Cuba in the World Cup earlier in the month, but reversed the result this time around by doing what Cuba did in that game—jump on the starter early. They banged out 11 hits overall and took advantage of six walks, then got just enough from the bullpen after righthander Todd Redmond (Braves) could give them just four innings.
"We jumped out to an early lead," manager Ernie Young said in a statement, "but at no point did we think we were going to run away with it. Cuba is a great team and their players showed their fight today. They never gave up, but neither did our guys, and we held on for the win." [...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball's professional team is playing in two tournaments this fall, moving on to the Pan American Games in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, after its bronze-medal game in the 2011 World Cup was washed out.
Team USA has not won the Pan Ams in baseball since 1967, when former Davidson and Wake Forest coach George Greer was the team's hitting star. Cuba has won the last 10 Pan Ams and beat the U.S. College National team for the gold medal in 2007 in Brazil.
Current Team USA members Jordan Danks (White Sox) and Jordy Mercer (Pirates) were on that club as collegians. However, this year's club—which has added catcher James McCann (Tigers) and outfielder Jimmy Gallagher (White Sox) to replace the injured Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays; left thumb surgery) and lefty Royce Ring since the World Cup—got off to a good start, winning its first two Pan Am contests in easy fashion with consecutive mercy-rule victories. [...] Continue Reading »
The Baseball World Cup announced its all-tournament team, with former Cardinals farmhand Curt Smith named MVP. The 26-year-old Smith, who starred at Vermont in college, now plays for the Lincoln SaltDogs of the independent American Association.
Here's the all-tournament team:
Starting Pitcher: Hyoun Taek Oh, South Korea
Relief Pitcher: Yadier Pedroso, Cuba
Catcher: Damaso Espino, Panama
First Baseman: Jose Abreu, Cuba
Second Baseman: Joe Thurston, U.S.
Third Baseman: Chang Min Mo, South Korea
Shortstop: Jonathan Malo, Canada
Outfielders: Rusney Castillo, Cuba; Tom Brice, Australia; Conception Rodriguez, Panama
DH: Fernando Seguinol, Panama
The United States' bronze-medal game against Canada was cancelled by rain. While the Americans were first told they would be co-bronze medalists, Canada's players were given bronze medals on a tiebreaker (Canada went 8-3 in the Cup, the U.S. went 7-4, and Canada won the head-to-head matchup), while the Americans did not get medals.
Also, the U.S. added Tigers farmhand James McCann, their 2011 second-round pick, to the roster for the upcoming Pan Am Games in Mexico, which begins Thursday. McCann replaces the injured Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), who had surgery on an injured thumb in Arizona this week.
Jonathan Schoop (Orioles) had an RBI single in a two-run fourth inning, and international veteran Rob Cordemans and the Dutch bullpen made it hold up as the Netherlands beat Cuba 2-1 in a rain-plagued final day at the 2011 World Cup in Panama.
The Netherlands scored two runs in the fourth, answering a Cuban run in the top frame, and held on behind Cordemans, who was the Florida junior college pitcher of the year in 1997 at Indian River (Fla.) JC. Cordemans has pitched in the Netherlands as a pro, and the 36-year-old has pitched in the Olympics and numerous international tournaments. This was his finest moment, as he pitched 7 1/3 innings, struck out six and yielded only one run. Juan Carlos Sulbaran (Reds) gave up two hits but got three outs, and veteran David Bergman got the last two outs to earn the save and the gold medal for the Dutch. The final out, a soft line drive by Cuba's Hector Olivera, can be viewed on this Dutch website. [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA started slowly at the 2011 World Cup, failing to earn a chance to defend its consecutive gold medals in the '07 and '09 events.
But a strong rally in the second round, including a doubleheader sweep Friday in dramatic fashion, have helped the U.S. salvage a shot at the bronze medal on Saturday. The Americans beat South Korea 3-1 in a game that started at 11 a.m. local time, then rallied from 4-1 down entering the seventh and final inning with a six-run rally—capped by a three-run homer by Jordy Mercer (Pirates)—to beat Venezuela 7-4.
The two victories left the U.S. at 4-3 in the second round and 7-4 overall in the World Cup. While it hasn't been announced officially, the U.S. will play Canada—which won the bronze medal in 2009 and which beat the U.S. 6-1 in this Cup's first round—for bronze on Saturday.
The Netherlands clinched a spot in the World Cup gold-medal game—the first European country to do so in a tournament format—with two victories Thursday, including a 4-1 victory against previously undefeated Cuba.
The last European country to play for gold was during what is now considered the first World Cup, in 1938. That was a best-of-seven series between the United States and the United Kingdom (won by host U.K.). Also, it was before World War II, so this Netherlands club has done something unprecedented with a meaningless game against Venezuela remaining tonight to end the second round. The Dutch team has ridden tremendous pitching to lose only once in nine games, posting a 1.57 ERA overall. It's allowed five runs twice—once in a 7-5 win against the U.S., once in its lone loss, 5-4 to Canada.
The U.S. remained in medal contention with a 2-1 victory against Australia and plays a doubleheader today and must sweep to reach the medal round, but it appears to be eliminated from a spot in the gold-medal game. [...] Continue Reading »
All the World Cup games scheduled for Wednesday in Panama were lost to rain. As a result, most teams are playing three games in the next two days.
Team USA plays Australia at 12 noon Central, then has a doubleheader Friday with games against South Korea and Venezuela. Canada is scheduled to play a doubleheader Thursday, facing Venezuela and South Korea before facing Cuba at 3:30 on Friday. The Cubans, the Cup's lone undefeated team, plays the Netherlands (the only one-loss team) on Thursday, after the Dutch play Australia earlier in the day. Cuba's doubleheader is on Friday with Canada and Panama.
The entire schedule is available here on IBAF's website.
Cuba blitzed Team USA starter Jeff Marquez (Yankees) for seven runs in three innings, then held off repeated American rallies to stay unbeaten in the 2011 World Cup in Panama. The 8-7 victory Tuesday night keeps Cuba as the favorite to reach the gold-medal game while dropping the U.S. to 4-4 overall but 1-4 in the Cup's unique second-round standings.
The first five hitters in Cuba's lineup—Rusney Castillo and national team veterans Alexei Bell, Frederich Cepeda, Alfredo Despaigne and Yulieski Gourriel—all singled to start the bottom of the first, and the Cubans took a 3-0 lead. [...] Continue Reading »
Andy Van Hekken (Astros) made five big league starts in 2002 for the Tigers, striking out five in 30 innings. A pro since 1998, the 32-year-old Van Hekken came through for the United States in the World Cup in Panama without the benefit of a strikeout.
Van Hekken pitched eight shutout innings, giving up just hits and no walks, to help lead the U.S. to a 5-0 victory against Panama. With a 4-3 record in pool play, the U.S. earned the fourth and final spot in the medal round from Group A. Van Hekken has now pitched 14 innings and allowed one run in his World Cup starts, both victories. [...] Continue Reading »
Canada thumped the United States 6-1 in World Cup play Sunday, but the Americans stayed alive for a medal-round berth thanks to Taiwan's 3-1 defeat of Puerto Rico.
The loss to the Canadians dropped the U.S. to 3-3 in Panama in the last week, with a game to go Monday against host Panama. Puerto Rico is 3-4 but owns the tiebreaker, having beaten the U.S. head-to-head. The Americans, the two-time defending champions of the World Cup, must win to advance to the medal round. [...] Continue Reading »
Only one of Saturday's World Cup games was a close game to the end, but that one was a thriller. Canada needed 11 innings, even with the international tiebreaker rule, to beat previously undefeated Netherlands 5-4. The victory clinched a spot in the medal round for Canada, which improved to 5-1.
Veteran reserve Emerson Frostad (Astros), who replaced a cramped-up Cole Armstrong (Angels) in the ninth inning, had the game-winning hit in the 11th inning. Both teams had scored a run in the 10th inning, and Frostad's RBI single in the 11th brought home Tim Smith (Royals) with the game winner. Jimmy Henderson (Brewers) got two popouts and a strikeout in the bottom half to keep the Dutch off the board and save the victory.
Lefthander Andrew Albers (Twins) continued his fine tournament with three scoreless innings in relief of Kyle Lotzkar (Reds), who didn't make it out of the third inning. Armstrong had a solo homer in the fifth, and Dustin Molleken (Rockies) added 3 1/3 innings to keep the game close late.
Canada and the Netherlands are both 5-1 in the group, while host Panama is 5-0. Panama's game with Team USA was rained out Saturday, leaving the Americans at 3-2. Puerto Rico beat Japan 6-0, keeping the pressure on the Americans. Puerto Rico is 3-3 and owns the tiebreaker for the fourth medal-round spot from the group, so the U.S. only guarantees itself a spot in the medal round if it can beat both Panama (rescheduled for Monday) and Canada (a 2 p.m. game Sunday) in the final two games of pool play.
Puerto Rico plays Taiwan on Sunday; if it wins, the U.S. must win both games to advance. If Taiwan wins, the U.S. needs one more victory to advance to the medal round. [...] Continue Reading »
The Netherlands and host Panama stayed unbeaten in World Cup play on Friday, moving to 5-0 to take a commanding lead in Group A by beating North American favorites the United States and Canada.
The Dutch took an early six-run lead and held on to beat the Americans 7-5, while Canada fell 12-3 to Panama.
U.S. pitcher Matt Shoemaker (Angels), the Double-A Texas League pitcher of the year, struggled in defeat, giving up all seven runs in three innings of work. He gave up a three-run first-inning homer to indy leaguer Curt Smith (formerly of the Cardinals organization), and a pair of walks and a single loaded the bases in the third for Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop. Schoop tripled to drive home three runs and scored on the play on an error by second baseman Joey Thurston (Marlins) to make it 7-1. [...] Continue Reading »
Lefthander Drew Smyly (Tigers) struck out seven in six shutout innings and Matt Clark (Padres) homered for the second time as the United States beat Greece 3-0 in the World Cup in Panama.
Greece (0-4) was coming off consecutive blowout losses to Canada and the Netherlands but kept it close against the Americans with lefthander Theon Bourdaniotis, who pitched at Sacramento City CC as well as Division II Cal State Los Angeles. He gave up seven hits in 5 2/3 innings and struck out just three but kept Greece in the game after giving up a first-inning run on two singles and a double play.
However, Clark's two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth gave the U.S. breathing room, and Smyly was suffocating. While Greek reliever Pete Sikaras, a former Diamondbacks farmhand, pitched 2 1/3 scoreless as the team of mostly Greek-Americans held the U.S. offense in check, Smyly and relievers Chuckie Fick (Cardinals) and Randy Williams (Red Sox) combined to register 10 strikeouts in the combined shutout.
The U.S. got just eight hits but improved to 3-1, keeping it one game behind the three undefeated teams that are in Group A. The Americans' next three games are against those three clubs—the Netherlands, host Panama and Canada. [...] Continue Reading »
Righthander Jeff Marquez (Yankees) retired the first nine batters he faced and gave Team USA six strong innings en route to a 7-3 victory against Japan in the 2011 World Cup in Panama.
The American team of non-40-man roster players improved to 2-1 on a day when the rest of the World Cup got a day off. This game had been rescheduled after being rained out Sunday, but the delay didn't keep the Americans from getting off to a good start, including a two-run second inning, keyed by a two-run double by catcher Tuffy Gosewisch (Phillies). [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA rebounded from an opening-game loss to win 13 straight en route to the 2009 World Cup championship.
While the roster is largely different for this World Cup, Team USA rebounded nicely from an opening loss in the 2011 Cup in Panama, beating Taiwan 15-1 in a game called after seven innings by the mercy rule. The game was played at Ramon Cantera Stadium in Aguadulce.
Four U.S. players hit home runs, starting with A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks), who hit a three-run shot in the seven-run fourth inning that broke it open. Tommy Mendonca (Rangers) hit a two-run shot in the fifth, while Matt Clark (Padres) added a three-run blast in the sixth and Jordy Mercer (Pirates) hit his solo homer in the seventh. It was one of three hits for Mercer, while Clark was the only other American with more than one hit. Taiwan committed four errors that helped lead to six unearned runs. [...] Continue Reading »
Team USA rallied from a 3-0 first-inning deficit, scoring in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, but lost its World Cup opener for the second straight World Cup, losing 8-4 to Puerto Rico on a 10th-inning grand slam by minor league veteran Luis Figueroa (Mets).
Figueroa was the second batter of the 10th for Puerto Rico under international tiebreaker rules, with runners placed on first and second with no outs to start each inning. Reymond Fuentes (Padres), a 2009 first-round pick, beat out a bunt to load the bases against veteran lefthander Randy Williams (Red Sox), and Figueroa homered on a full-count pitch. The U.S. went down in order in the bottom of the 10th against winning pitcher Adalberto Flores (Rangers).
Quick Hits from the first full day of games of the World Cup in Panama, where the United States' opener against Japan was rained out:
• Cuba announced its presence with authority, beating Australia 14-0 in seven innings. The Aussies had just three hits—one apiece from ex-White Sox farmhand Thomas Brice, Matt Kennelly (Braves) and Joel Naughton (Phillies). Meanwhile, Cuba teed off on four Australian pitchers, getting a grand slam from shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena in a 16-hit attack. [...] Continue Reading »
Just in time to compete with the MLB postseason, the 2011 Baseball World Cup opened Saturday in Panama City, Panama, with the host nation rallying from a 3-0 deficit to beat Greece 8-3.
The game was proceeded by a 90-minute opening ceremony at Rod Carew Stadium, and a sellout crowd officially listed at 20,000 watched as Astros slugger Carlos Lee threw out the first pitch. They then saw Greece's team of ex-minor league and ex-big league Greek-Americans take a lead in the second inning off righthander Paolo Espino (Indians), who reached Triple-A this season. The key hit for Greece was a two-run single to right by Gus Panagotacos, who played college ball at California in the late 1990s and is a lawyer who is a key organizer of the Greek team.
Panama rallied to tie the score in the bottom of the second off lefthander Mel Melehes, a former Frontier Leaguer, and the game stayed tied until a four-run Panamanian rally in the bottom of the seventh. Espino wound up striking out eight in six innings to keep the home fans happy.
The rest of the tournament starts in earnest Sunday, with marquee matchups including Team USA vs. Japan and Cuba vs. Australia. Fans who want to watch the games online can subscribe and follow online at www.ibaf.livesport.tv/home or follow the tournament at IBAF's official website.
USA Baseball finalized its roster for the 2011 World Cup, which begins next week in Panama, while Italy has released its final roster.
Team USA substituted veteran lefthander Royce Ring (Red Sox) to replace Joe Savery (Phillies), as well as adding first baseman Chad Tracy (Rangers), the former Pepperdine catcher (not the former Diamondbacks corner infielder).
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