Two local athletes helped Canada in its pursuit of gold at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mex. this weekend.
Pitcher Chris Kissock of Fruitvale and Rossland field-hockey player Thea Culley contributed mightily, as both their respective teams qualified for the semi-finals.
Kissock’s Team Canada baseball squad earned a trip to the semis by beating Venezuela 4-1in a must-win game Saturday.
The former Trail Oriole came on in the seventh inning with a 4-0 lead and pitched two complete innings of one-hit ball while striking out two.
Canada finished second in the Group B standings with a 2-1 record, their only loss to Cuba, 9-5, on Thursday.
They will take-on Group A winner, Mexico (3-0) in today’s second semi-final at the Pan Am Games.
The game goes at 7 p.m. Central Time in front of an expected sold-out, pro-Mexican crowd of over 5,000 people at Armando Reynoso Gutierrez Stadium.
The first semi-final game on Monday will feature one of the greatest rivalries in international baseball as Cuba takes on U.S.A. at 2 p.m. CT.
In Women’s field hockey, Canada came back from a 1-0 half-time deficit to defeat Trinidad and Tobago, 2-1, on Sunday.
The win for team Canada ensures their spot in the semi-final on Wednesday against the winner of Pool B.
Canada fell behind early and despite relentless pressure was unable to capitalize on many opportunities and penalties. Finally in the 61st minute Brienne Stairs tied the match, much to the relief of the Canadian fans and players. Then with only minutes remaining, Kate Gillis notched the go-ahead marker on a deflection from a shot from Abigail Raye to seal the win and a berth in semi-finals, for the first time since the 1999 Games in Winnipeg.
After trouncing Barbados 10-0 Wednesday, Canada faced world number-1 ranked Argentina. Canada had a very strong game against the reigning World Champions who are also the overwhelmingly favourites to win the gold but were defeated 7-3. Culley, Hannah Haughn and Kate Gillis scored for Canada.
“We competed really, really well,” says Head Coach Louis Mendonca in a release. “Overall, I’m very happy. We are definitely a very different team than we were about 4 months ago.”