Canada Falls Flat In 5-0 Loss To Venezuela At Baseball Americas Olympic Qualifier

Matching up with Venezuela in its first game against a Super Round opponent at the World Baseball Softball Confederation Baseball Americas Qualifier tournament, Canada fell flat in a 5-0 loss on Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Fla. 

Venezuela allowed just one hit—a Jacob Robson single in the opening frame—and worked around four walks to keep the Canucks off the board, while its offense helped Team Venezuela to a perfect 3-0 record in group play.

“It was a tough loss,” Canadian catcher Kellin Deglan said. “We couldn’t get a whole lot of momentum going, and those guys came out swinging early and they had a pretty good approach up there. … Tip the cap to them, they outplayed us.” 

Canada’s loss followed an incredibly quick tournament turnaround. After an almost two-hour rain delay before the beginning of its matchup on Tuesday night, the Canadians didn’t secure their victory over Cuba until the early morning hours on Wednesday, only to return to the diamond several hours later to face Venezuela after another weather delay. 

“We came out flat,” Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt said. “It was a tough night last night, getting back to the hotel after 2 o’clock and then having the early game today. What can I say? We had one hit, and we got that in the first inning, and it was crickets after that. 

“There’s no excuse. They pitched well, they played well, we didn’t, and that’s the bottom line. We just came out flat today after a long night last night, a rain delay, and getting back to the hotel late, and an early morning call. It’s very difficult to do and we just were not able to overcome that.”

Canada will once again see day-game-after-night-game action in the Super Round, taking on Team USA Friday evening and turning around to play the Dominican Republic on Saturday afternoon. Whitt understands the similarity in circumstances but doesn’t believe the sentiment will be the same going forward. 

“We’re going to have to step up,” Canada’s skipper said. “A lot of these guys, it could be their last opportunity to achieve this goal of going to the Olympics. That in itself, if that’s not enough (motivation) for you to try to do it, then something’s wrong. I don’t think that you’ll see us come out flat again. We know what we have to do, and again you don’t get this opportunity all the time. Our kids will respond.”

Canada used five arms on Wednesday, getting lesser-internationally-experienced pitchers Travis Seabrooke, Trevor Brigden, Will McAffer, Brendan McGuigan and Ben Onyshko into action against Venezuela. 

“They’re great competitors,” Deglan said. “We’ve got a good staff. These young guys have come in and they’ve competed. Just a matter of getting ahead. Sometimes we’re falling behind, working behind in the count, and it was tough against a good-hitting lineup like (Venezuela) to work from behind … They kept us in the game, we just couldn’t really muster enough offense today.”

Venezuela’s baseball contingent has never competed in an Olympic Games, while Canada is looking to return after taking part in the 2004 and ‘08 editions of the Olympics. Several members of the Canadian squad have extended their playing careers just for the shot at the Games, and will need the best record in the Super Round to directly advance, or to finish either second or third to move onto the last-chance qualifier in Mexico later this month. 

“These guys know that, and some of them are getting long in the tooth, and they want to be a part of it,” Whitt said. “It was one of the greatest events that I ever attended in ‘04 in Athens, Greece. It’s something that you go and you represent your country, and you’re there with all the best athletes in the world, and it’s something that you just cherish. It doesn’t come along that often, so our boys will be ready and fired up to accomplish this.”

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