By Ray Otero (baseballdecuba.com)
HAVANA TIMES – Veteran right-hander Shawn Hill, 34, preserved Canada’s unbeaten record in the Toronto Pan American Games on Tuesday night. Hill went six scoreless innings as his team won by a score of 3-1, on a three-run homer by Tyler O’Niell.
Canada now has a record of 4-0 in the tournament. The hosts take the day off on Wednesday before facing Puerto Rico on Thursday.
The loss complicated the situation for Cuba (2-2) in its quest to advance to the semifinals. They will face the Dominican Republic (1-2), on Wednesday at 7:00 P.M. (ET).
Hill pitched a gem against the unstable Cuban offense, allowing only 3 hits and a walk to give his team a sure ticket to the semifinals of Pan American Games baseball.
The right-handed pitcher had help from a couple of relievers, lefty Andrew Albers, who allowed one run on two hits, including the solo homer to right from Alfredo Despaigne in the bottom of the seventh. Closer Jeff Francis pitched the 9th inning without difficulties, picking up his second save of the tournament.
For Cuba, left-hander Yoanni Yera (0-1) pitched well into the sixth inning when after hanging five zeros. But in the wink of an eye he allowed the decisive three-run homer to the third man in the lineup, the talented 20-year-old Tyler O’Neill – who is being compared with the Canadian star Brett Lawrie, who plays this season with the Oakland Athletics. Yera allowed only three hits, struck out four and walked one.
Yera was relieved in the seventh inning by the 19-year-old Livan Moinelo, once again efective over the final three innings. He allowed only one hit, issuing two walks and striking out three to keep his team in the game.
In all, Canada had only four hits to Cuba’s five but the three-run homer made all the difference.
Meanwhile, the Cuban offense was unable to decipher the Canadian pitching, except for a momentary ray of hope when Alfredo Despaigne hit a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh.
Other results from Tuesday:
On a day where the United States had the day off, Nicaragua served Colombia its fourth loss in a row, this time with a score of 7-4. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico scored a major victory in getting its second win of the tournament by a score of 12-6 over the DR.
Wednesday 7 pm, Dominican Republic vs. Cuba
The probable Cuban starter is either of two right-handers, Lazaro Blanco or Ismel Jimenez, who would be pitching on only three days rest.
Cuba comes into the game with a 2-2 record after winning 10-3 and 8-1 over Colombia and Puerto Rico, and losing 5-2 and 3-1 to the USA and Canada. The Cubans need a victory to put them at the gates of the semifinals.
The Dominican Republic is thus far 1-2 record after losing 4-1 to 12-6 to Canada and Puerto Rico and winning 8-5 over Nicaragua. A loss would greatly reduce the DR’s chances of reaching the medal round of the tournament.