“Venezuela wins Pan American softball Qualifier” Written By Bill Plummer
Canada and the USA dominated since softball made its Pan American Games debut in in 1979.
Canada won seven gold medals with the USA finishing runner-up each time for seven silver medals. The USA men compiled a record of 61-16 for a winning percentage of .792 with 15 of those losses to Canada. Men’s fast pitch was contested in the Pan American games from 1979-2003, then dropped from the program.
Men’s fast pitch, however, has been put back on the program for 2015 when the Games are held July 12-26 in Toronto, Canada. The qualifying tournament for Toronto was recently held in Parana, Argentina, which hosted the 1995 Pan American Games softball with the USA women and the Canadian men taking home gold medals. This time, however, Venezuela surprised host Argentina, 2-0, to win the qualifier with Canada third and the USA fourth.
The USA lost to Argentina, 3-1 to finish with an overall 4-4 record, but did qualify for the 2015 Pan American Games and the XIV Men’s World Championship, June 26- July 5th in Saskatoon, Sk. Men’s softball will join women’s softball at the 17th Pan American Games after a brief absence. Host Canada will be joined by the top five men’s countries – Venezuela, Argentina, USA, Dominican Republic, and Mexico – in the quadrennial multi-sport celebration for the Americas region in July 2015.
The 14th ISF Men’s World Championship also saw five more teams qualify and will join Czech Republic, Denmark, Great Britain, and host Canada in the line-up. The 2015 world championship is the final championship requiring teams to qualify following the 2009 decision to change to an open system.
“Tonight (Friday, November 1) was a tough loss for the team, but we also saw the resilience of our guys,” said USA Head Coach Denny Bruckert (Gillespie, Ill.). “These guys had their backs against the wall so many times throughout this tournament and proved that they will fight until the last pitch. We saw a lot of great things from the team, and are looking forward to continuing to grow as a team and program.”
Except for one game, losing 6-1 to the Dominican Republic, the USA men’s team held its own against the rest of the teams and were competitive with their other losses by two runs or less. The USA scored 14 runs while the opposition tallied 18 runs. The USA collected 35 hits while the opposition had 38 hits. The USA made six errors to the opponents’ six miscues. The USA lost to Argentina 3-1 in the fourth place game after beating Argentina 1-0 earlier in the competition. The USA also lost to Mexico, 2-1 (11 innings), and Canada 4-3, while beating Cuba 4-2, Guatemala, 1-0, and Venezuela 2-1 (nine innings).
As a team, the U.S. finished the tournament with a .175 batting average and were led by Pat Sagdal, who ended with a .250 (5-for-20) batting average and three RBI. From the circle, Tony Mancha finished the tournament with a 1-3 record, 55 strikeouts and a 1.60 ERA in 35 innings pitched.
Eight countries competed in the qualifier in round robin competition with the top four teams qualifying for the Page playoffs. Canada went 6-1 in the round robin with Venezuela and Argentina each 5-2 and the USA 4-3. Behind the top four were the Dominican Republic (3-4), Mexico (3-4) Guatemala (1-6) and Cuba (1-6). Cuba had a bronze medal in the 2003 Pan American Games
Venezuela, behind the pitching of Ramon Jones, shutout Argentina, 2-0, in the Grand Final. Jones allowed three hits and struck out 10 batters.
In the third inning, Venezuela scored the only two runs of the game. Jorge Lima led off with a double. Franklin Gonzalez then hit a two out inside-the-park home run scoring both himself and Lima.
At the bottom of the fourth inning, Argentina threatened. Francisco Sabaté led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third following two consecutive pass balls. The next batter, Bruno Motroni, walked (putting runners on the corners with no outs) and advanced to second on a Manuel Godoy ground out. Mariano Montero was later able load the bases after being hit by a pitch. But Jones was able to settle down, striking out both Ladislao Malarczuk and Juan Zara to end the inning unscathed.