Canada pitches combined no-hitter in rout of Colombia at Olympic qualifier opener
Andrew Albers notches 7 strikeouts in as many innings to help Canada win 7-0
Former big-leaguer Andrew Albers and two relievers combined to no-hit Colombia, and Canada opened up their Baseball Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament with an 7-0 victory on Monday.
Albers went seven scoreless innings, and threw 66 of his 90 pitches for strikes to finish with seven strikeouts.
Brendan McGuigan and Ben Onyshko finished off the no-hitter for Canada with an inning each, adding two strikeouts apiece for a total of 11 for Canada.
Canada (1-0) opened the game with a two-run first and blew it open with a four-run second for an early 6-0 lead.
WATCH | Canada's pitchers toss combined no-hitter to cruise past Colombia:
Jacob Robson went 3 for 4 with three RBIs including a bases-clearing triple in the second along with two runs.
Eric Wood hit a solo shot in the seventh to cap the offensive outburst.
Colombia (0-1) starter Moreno Alvarez lasted just 1 2/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on five hits and a walk.
Canada, currently ranked 13th in the world and one spot ahead of Columbia, 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 Cuba on Tuesday and Venezuela on Wednesday to wrap up preliminary-round action.
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.
🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦 Eric Wood Home Run!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RoadToTokyo?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RoadToTokyo</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tokyo2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tokyo2020</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/baseballcanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@baseballcanada</a> <a href="https://t.co/TS9Q4b1Bb7">pic.twitter.com/TS9Q4b1Bb7</a>—@WBSC
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.
U.S. keeps Olympic hope alive in win over Nicaragua
Todd Frazier hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in a two-run first inning, St. Louis prospect Matthew Liberatore pitched one-run ball for five innings and manager Mike Scioscia's U.S. team beat Nicaragua 7-1 Monday night in the first game of its second chance to qualify for the Olympics.
Liberatore, a 21-year-old left-hander taken by Tampa Bay with the 18th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft who is 0-3 this year at Triple-A Memphis, allowed five hits with four strikeouts and a walk.
The U.S. had 14 hits.
In the other Group A game, the Dominican Republic, with Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera in the starting lineup, won 5-2 over Puerto Rico. Luis Liberato hit a tiebreaking homer and Emilio Bonifacio had a go-ahead single in a two-run sixth inning.
The U.S. plays the Dominican Republic on Tuesday at West Palm Beach and closes the first round Wednesday against Puerto Rico.
In Group B openers at West Palm Beach, Venezuela beat Cuba 6-5 as the Yankees' Robinson Chirinos, Milwaukee's Hernan Perez and Oakland's Carlos Perez homered.
With files from The Associated Press