Canada beats Nicaragua in Pan Am baseball, moves to 3-0
Aumont pitches 5 strong innings, striking out 8
Skyler Stromsmoe was pleasantly surprised when he launched a ball over the left-field fence on Monday night.
That's not exactly a sight he gets to see too often.
The 31-year-old second baseman from Bow Island, Alta., had four hits, including the two-run homer, and drove in three to pace Canada to a 9-1 win over Nicaragua in Pan Am preliminary play.
"I was just happy to square up a ball, I hadn't really squared any up," said Stromsmoe, who last went deep in a game on July 18, 2013 for the San Francisco Giants' double-A affiliate. "I was kind of surprised when I hit it."
Pete Orr also drove in three runs on three hits and reached base four times, Rene Tosoni had four hits and an RBI, and Sean Jamieson and Jordan Lennerton drove in a run apiece as the defending Pan Am champion Canadians (3-0) won their third straight.
The pitching did its job, too.
Phillippe Aumont of Gatineau, Que., pitched effectively over five innings, striking out eight batters and walking two.
"Just throw them the fastball and let our defence work," Aumont said of his game plan. "Just make them pound it into the ground and keep my defence on its toes and that was basically what we had going throughout the whole game."
Blue Jays prospect Shane Dawson of Drayton Valley, Alta., racked up two strikeouts in the sixth inning in his national team debut. Kyle Lotzkar worked the seventh, Brock Dykxhoorn — in his first appearance for the senior team — pitched a scoreless eighth and Scott Richmond finished the job after giving up one run in the ninth.
Canadian manager Ernie Whitt was happy to get some of his young pitchers into the game.
"It was more of a confidence boost for them," Whitt said. "They can tell their families that they pitched in the Pan Am Games. Not a lot of kids get an opportunity to do that so I'm happy about that."
Left-hander Elvin Garcia gave up two runs on five hits and walked five batters in shouldering the loss. Reliever Junior Tellez was charged with three runs, Douglas Solis gave up three and Jose Saenz allowed one more as Nicaragua (0-2) dropped its second straight game.
Sander Guido drove in Nicaragua's only run with a double off Richmond in the ninth. Darrel Campbell had two of Nicaragua's six hits.
Orr put Canada on the board with a two-run single in the fourth inning. The Richmond Hill, Ont., native laced the first pitch he saw from Garcia into right field to score Tosoni and Tyson Gillies.
A big fifth inning gave the Canadians four more runs. Base hits from Kellin Deglan and Tosoni along with Gillies being hit by a pitch loaded the bases for Stromsmoe, who hit an RBI single off Solis for a 3-0 lead.
Jamieson followed with a sacrifice fly and Orr picked up his third RBI with a single. Lennerton drove in the sixth Canadian run with a force out.
Stromsmoe's two-run shot off Solis in the sixth made it 8-0 and Tosoni tacked on one more with an RBI single off Saenz in the seventh.
Canada got off to a slow start, stranding runners in each of the first three innings — including a bases-loaded opportunity in the first — before finally getting to the Nicaragua pitching staff.
But Orr wasn't too concerned with the lack of production early.
"The biggest thing that I look at is that we are getting better every game," Orr said. "Today we struggled. Obviously those first three innings we should have scored some runs and we didn't.
"Hopefully those are learning experiences. The teams that win these things at the end are the teams that have some struggles at the beginning, and come through at the end."
Aumont got himself out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth, getting a strikeout and a pop out after giving up a lead-off single and one-out base hit.