Managed by Ernie Whitt, Baseball Canada’s Senior National Team secured its second consecutive Pan Am Games gold medal with a thrilling, extra-inning win over the United States on July 19, 2015.
In the nail-biting gold medal contest played in front of 5,489 boisterous fans in Ajax, Ont., the Canadian squad trailed the Americans 6-4 heading into the bottom of the 10th inning. International baseball rules dictate that teams must start extra innings with runners on first and second base. With one out, Pete Orr (Richmond Hill, Ont.) flared a single to centre field to score Tyson Gillies (Vancouver, B.C.) to make it a 6-5 game. American lefty David Huff then threw wildly when he attempted to pick Orr off first base and Skyler Stromsmoe (Bow Island, Alta.) darted home to tie the game. Orr aggressively dashed for third base and U.S. right fielder Brian Bogusevic threw the ball wide of the bag. Orr then scampered for home, while U.S. shortstop Tyler Pastornicky corralled the ball and threw it to U.S. catcher Thomas Murphy. Orr slid in safely in a close play at the plate and Canada won 7-6. It was an unforgettable sequence of events that will be remembered as one of the greatest in Canadian baseball history.
The gold medal game triumph avenged Canada’s 4-1 loss to the Americans earlier in the tournament. That was Canada’s only defeat in the event that saw them go 7-1 overall and down the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico. It was a combination of strong pitching and a balanced offensive attack that propelled Canada to gold. The team’s 2.34 ERA was the best in the tournament. The pitching staff was led by Chris Leroux (Mississauga, Ont.) who recorded three wins, Phillipe Aumont (Gatineau, Que.) who didn’t allow an earned run and struck out 16 batters (second-most in the tournament) in 13 innings and Jeff Francis (North Delta, B.C.) who had two saves as the team’s closer before starting and hurling seven innings in the gold medal game.
The team’s offence was led by Rene Tosoni (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) who batted .433 in the tournament and belted a three-run home run in the gold medal contest. Jordan Lennerton (Langley, B.C.) also contributed nine RBI (second-most in the tournament), while Gillies tallied nine runs (second-most in the tournament).
“Winning Pan Am gold for the second time in a row, on home soil and in the fashion that we did is something that I’ll never forget,” said Whitt. “It’s an honour to be part of a team being inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and I’m really looking forward to being a part of the festivities in June.”
Greg Hamilton, director of Canada’s national teams, who was a coach on the gold medal-winning squad, shared similar thoughts.
“The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame includes inductees that have had a significant impact on baseball in our country, so to be a part of this group is truly an honour,” he said.
Andrew Albers, North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Phillippe Aumont, Gatineau, Quebec, Shane Dawson, Drayton Valley, Alberta, Kellin Deglan, Langley, British Columbia; Brock Dykxhoorn, Goderich, Ontario; Jeff Francis, Delta, British Columbia; Tyson Gillies, Vancouver, British Columbia; Shawn Hill, Georgetown, Ontario; Jesse Hodges, Victoria, British Columbia; Sean Jamieson, Kitchener, Ontario; Brock Kjeldgaard, London, Ontario; Jordan Lennerton, Langley, British Columbia; Chris Leroux, Mississauga, Ontario; Kyle Lotzkar, Delta, British Columbia; Jared Mortensen, Abbottsford, British Columbia; Tyler O’Neill, Maple Ridge, British Columbia; Pete Orr, Richmond Hill, Ontario; Jasvir Rakkar, North York, Ontario; Scott Richmond, Vancouver, British Columbia; Chris Robinson, Dorchester, Ontario; Evan Rutckyj, Windsor, Ontario; Tim Smith, Toronto, Ontario; Skyler Stromsmoe, Bow Island, Alberta; Rene Tosoni, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
Ernie Whitt, Clinton, Michigan, Manager; Larry Walker, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Coach; Denis Boucher, Lachine, Quebec, Coach; Stubby Clapp, Windsor, Ontario, Coach; Paul Quantrill, Port Hope, Ontario, Coach; Greg Hamilton, Ottawa, Ontario, Coach & Director of National Team; Bernie Soulliere, Windsor, Ontario, Business Manager; Keith Sanford, Windsor, Ontario, Equipment Manager; Dave Blatz, Steinbach, Manitoba, Athletic Therapist; Adam Morissette, Ottawa, Ontario, Media-PR