Canada dashes Cuba's Olympic hopes to book spot in WBSC Super Round
Undefeated Canadians to play Venezuela on Wednesday for 1st place in Group B
Connor Panas went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a walk, and Michael Crouse went deep in the seventh inning with a solo shot, and Canada hung on to beat Cuba 6-5 on Tuesday for its second straight win at the Baseball Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament.
The victory guarantees Canada a spot in the next round of the tournament with one round-robin game to go.
"It's a great rivalry [with Cuba], something that has built over the years and it was a another great game tonight," manager Ernie Whitt told Baseball Canada. "Cuba always battles you but so do our players and we were fortunate to come out on top tonight."
Eric Wood also went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI for a Canadian squad that was up 5-1 going into the bottom of the seventh.
"We've competed in games like this before together and I think that really helped us tonight," Wood said. "The fact that everyone's pulling on the same side of the rope and pulling for each other is big."
Ryan Kellogg started and went 3 2/3 innings for the 13th-ranked Canadians (2-0), giving up five hits and no runs with two strikeouts.
Carlos Viera started for No.7 Cuba (0-2) but didn't make it out of the first, allowing four hits and three earned runs to go with a walk.
Canada scored three runs in the top of the first and could have been up more as it left five men on base in the first two innings.
The Canadians left a total of 11 runners on base in a game that became close following three fielding errors made by Canada — including a throwing error in the bottom of the ninth leading to Cuba's second run of the inning to make it a one-run game.
WATCH | Canada edges Cuba to reach Super Round:
Canada was outhit 11-9 and combined to be struck out 14 times, but was helped with eight free passes on balls.
Canada is in Palm Beach and St. Lucie, Fla., at the May 31-June 5 competition.
The winner of the eight-team tournament will qualify for the Tokyo Games this summer. The second- and third-place finishers will compete at a last-chance qualifier for the sixth and final entry at the Olympics.
Canada is competing in Group B and will face Venezuela (2-0) on Wednesday for first place in its group. The Canadians opened their tournament with a 7-0 win over Colombia Monday.
"It's going to be a quick turnaround for our team," Whitt said. "We want to crossover [into the Super Round] 1-0 so we'll have to pull out all the strings and do whatever it takes to win."
The host Americans are in Group A with the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. The top two countries in each group will advance to the Super Round.
Teams will play two Super Round games with head-to-head contests from the opening round counting toward the Super Round standings. The team with the best Super Round record will be declared the winner.
Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Israel have already secured berths in the Tokyo field.
The national team last competed internationally in 2019 at the WBSC Premier12 in South Korea. Canada beat Cuba and lost to the host team and Australia in first-round play.
All international baseball events were either cancelled or postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WATCH | Canada tosses combined no-hitter vs. Colombia on Monday:
Scioscia ejected, U.S. beats Dominican Republic
U.S. manager Mike Scioscia was ejected after Philadelphia prospect Luke Williams hit a two-run triple in a four-run sixth inning, and the United States rallied to beat the Dominican Republic 8-6 Tuesday night in Olympic baseball qualifying to advance to the super round of the Americas tournament.
Scioscia came out of the dugout to ask for a video review when, with the U.S. ahead 8-5, a drive by Todd Frazier down the left-field line with two on was ruled foul. The foul call was upheld and Scioscia popped out of the dugout again as plate umpire Edwin Hernandez of Puerto Rico put up his hands, signaling for Scioscia to stop. The manager kept walking to the plate and was tossed.
The U.S. is 2-0 and leads Group A over the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua (both 1-1) going into the Americans' first-round finale on Wednesday against Puerto Rico (0-2).
In the other Group A game, Nicaragua defeated Puerto Rico 7-6 in 10 innings. Ofilio Castro broke a 5-all tie in the 10th when he scored on Freddie Muniz's wild pitch, and Juan Diego Montes' sacrifice fly built a two-run lead. Ruben Castro hit an RBI groundout in the bottom half before Osvaldo Martinez's game-ending flyout against Sheyder Garcia.
In Group B, Venezuela beat Colombia 3-2 at Port St. Lucie on a solo ninth-inning homer by San Francisco prospect Diego Ricones off Chicago Cubs prospect Carlos Ocampo after Oakland prospect Jordan Diaz tied the score with a solo homer off Gabriel Moya in the top half.
With files from The Associated Press