Canada beats U.S. for baseball gold

Former Surrey and Delta athletes help national team to first-ever Pan-Am Games win

Canada's men's baseball team defeated Cuba in the semifinals and then went on to beat the U.S.

It was yet another feather in Jimmy Van Ostrand’s cap.

The talented Richmond athlete and North Delta Blue Jay alumnus seems to have a penchant for coming up big when it matters most, especially in international competition.

He did so again Tuesday, as his two-out double in the top of the sixth gave Canada a 2-1 win over the United States in baseball’s championship game at the 2011 Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“To be going at this for so long and finally accomplish our goal is something truly special,” said team manager, Ernie Whitt. “I’m so happy for these kids. They’ve worked so hard.”

After giving up a run in the first inning, Canadian starter Andrew Albers (from North Battleford, Sask.), backed by catcher Cole Armstrong of Surrey (who now plays for the Salt Lake City Bees), turned in a phenomenal performance on the mound as he went more than six innings and allowed six hits, while striking out eight and walking none.

Scott Richmond of Vancouver came on in the bottom of the seventh with two out and runners on the corners only to get a fly-out to right field that ended the threat.

“Andrew Albers and Scotty Richmond came through for us tonight and my gosh, it’s just a dream come true,” added Whitt.

Richmond was perfect the rest of the way and fanned the final batter of the game which sent the Canadian players off in a wild, on-field celebration.

The gold medal is the first gold won at a major international baseball event at the senior level by a Canadian team.

Canada won bronze at the IBAF Baseball World Cup in Panama two weeks ago making this team the most successful in Baseball Canada’s history.

On Monday, Canada defeated Venezuela and the U.S. beat Cuba, which has dominated the competition for decades, pitting Canada and U.S. against one another in the gold medal game.

• Surrey’s Sukhwinder Singh and Delta’s Jagdish Gill are part of the Canadian men’s field hockey team playing in the semifinals beginning today (Thursday) and hopefully proceeding to the finals on Saturday. The team won Pan-Am gold in 2007.

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