Albers shines as Canada fails to strike Colombia to open Olympic qualifier with victory


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla .– Former big league Andrew Albers and two relievers combined for a no-hitting Colombia, and Canada opened their Olympic Baseball Americas qualifying tournament with a 7-0 victory on Monday.

Albers went seven scoreless innings and threw 66 of his 90 shots for strikes to finish with seven strikeouts.

“It was a great way to start the tournament,” said Albers.

“It’s really good when the offense ends and gives you six points and we played great defense behind me so overall it’s a great night for us and a great start.”

Brendan McGuigan and Ben Onyshko finished the game without a hitting for the Canadians with one inning apiece, adding two strikeouts each for a total of 11 for Canada.

“I can’t say enough about (Albers),” said Canada manager Ernie Whitt. “He controlled the strike zone, shifted gears and knocked their hitters off balance and when they put the ball into play we defended really well.”

Canada (1-0) opened the game with two runs first, then blew it up with a second of four runs for an early 6-0 lead.

Jacob Robson went 3 for 4 with three RBIs, including a baseline triple in the second with two runs.

Eric Wood hit a solo shot in the seventh to top off the offensive explosion.

Colombian starter (0-1) Moreno Alvarez lasted just 1 2/3 of an inning, allowing six earned runs on five hits and one walk.

Canada had eight wins in all, including six singles.

“We talked about reducing (our) swings and putting the ball in play so that things could happen (offensively),” said Whitt. “Colombia made three mistakes today and some steps so that also helped.”

Canada, currently ranked 13th in the world and one spot ahead of Columbia, is in Palm Beach and St. Lucia, Fla., During the competition from May 31 to June 5.

The winner of the eight-team tournament will advance to the Tokyo Games this summer. The second and third finalists will face each other in a last-chance qualifier for the sixth and final Olympic Games.

Canada compete in Group B and will face Cuba on Tuesday and Venezuela on Wednesday to conclude the preliminary round.

The American hosts are in Group A with the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. The top two countries from each group will advance to the Super Round.

The teams will play two Super Round matches with clashes from the first round counting towards 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 places in the Tokyo field.

The national team last participated in international competitions in 2019 at WBSC Premier12 in South Korea. Canada beat Cuba and lost to the host team and Australia in the first round.

All international baseball events have been canceled or postponed to 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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