Canadian men hit their way to Pan Am softball gold
The Canadian men’s softball team continued their winning ways, by defeating Venezuela 2-1 to win gold on Saturday.
Centrefielder Brad Ezekiel led the way for the reigning world champions, going 1-for-3 and driving in both of Canada’s runs. His game-winning RBIs came on a 6th inning home run off Venezuelan starter Erick Urbaneja. Leftfielder Mathieu Roy was the man on base when Ezekiel hit the homer.
“It wasn’t my week at the plate, and I’m thankful to the coaches for sticking with me,” Ezekiel said after the game. “I finally managed to catch a break and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Canada’s pitching continued their strong showing, with starter Sean Cleary pitching a complete game for the second straight day. He struck out 6 batters and only allowed 3 hits and 3 walks over 7 innings. Cleary finished the Toronto 2015 tournament with a 4-0 record.
Ezekiel spotted Cleary a 2-0 lead heading into the top of the seventh, the final inning in softball. But Cleary allowed the Venezuelans back into it, giving up 2 hits in the final half inning, which cut the score to 2-1, before shutting the door and securing the gold for Canada.
The Canadians won all of their matches by a combined score of 37-14. They went undefeated in the preliminary round and then beat the Argentinians 2-0 in the semifinal on Friday to give them their shot at gold. Coach John Stuart (not the host of The Daily Show) described the significance of the win: “It’s history. It’s never been done before; that’s something these guys can be very proud of.”
Over the past two weeks at the World Championships in Saskatchewan and at Toronto 2015, the Canadian men went a combined 17-1. Their only loss came to New Zealand at the worlds, who they then beat in the final.
Canada’s women will look to follow suit when they begin their tournament on Sunday against Brazil.