Team Canada men’s baseball team did the improbable Tuesday night, coming back from a 1-0 deficit and defeating the U.S.A. to win the gold medal at the Pan Am Games in Gaudalajara, Mex.
Fruitvale’s Chris Kissock was warming up in the bullpen ready to come into the game but Canada’s Scott Richmond, who has struggled of late, nailed down the win by striking out the last U.S. batter to preserve the 2-1 victory.
“To be going at this for so long and finally accomplish our goal is something truly special,” said Canadian Manager, Ernie Whitt. “I’m so happy for these kids. They’ve worked so hard.”
In Canada’s 5-3 semifinal win against Mexico, Kissock picked up the save, throwing two shutout innings.
In all, the former AM Ford Oriole did not allow a run in either the Pan Am Games or the IBAF Baseball World Cup tournament in Panama where they won bronze.
“It was unbelievable,” said Chris’ father Rick Kissock Wednesday, after speaking with his son. “Ernie told Chris that if Scott gave up a walk or a hit, be ready to go.”
Kissock had already helped beat the U.S. 6-1 in the World Cup, entering the game in the eighth inning with the score 3-1, bases loaded and only one out.
He got the final two outs without allowing a run and shut down the vaunted attack in the ninth, striking out two of the three U.S. batters.
“He loves this role, long relief, short relief he just loves the pressure, ” said Rick.
Canada has never won gold at the Pan Am Games and were decided underdogs after the U.S. beat perennial winners Cuba in their semifinal Monday.
After giving up a run in the first inning, Canadian starter Andrew Albers turned in a phenomenal performance on the mound as he went 6 2/3 innings and allowed six hits, while striking out eight and walking none.
Canada’s Jimmy Van Ostrand stepped up to the plate with two men on base in the top of the sixth inning and doubled down the right field line to bring in Chris Robinson and Tim Smith. Both Robinson and Smith had two-out singles to start the rally.
Scott Richmond 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 mygosh, 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 along with Canadas bronze at the World Cup in Panama two weeks ago, makes this team the most successful in Baseball Canada’s history. Kissock also won bronze with Team Canada at the World Cup tournament two years ago but the gold medal is one of the highlights of his baseball career, says his father.
“Chris was telling me his neck was sore, and I was worried until he told me, it was from carrying all this hardware around it.”
Whitt is also Kissock’s coach down in Reading, Penn. with the Phillies, and he has come full circle in his involvement with Baseball Canada as he first managed the National Team at the 1999 Pan Am Games.
“I’m a US citizen but I feel like I’m a Canadian at heart,” added Whitt. “I couldn’t be more proud of these kids and more proud to have Canada written across my chest.”
Team Canada flew out of Leon, Mexico early on Wednesday morning where players will fly their separate ways later in the day.
With files from Baseball Canada