SPORTS

Ezekiel homers as Canada wins eighth straight gold medal in men's softball

07/18/2015 04:50 EDT | Updated 07/18/2016 05:59 EDT
AJAX, Ont. - Canada beat Venezuela 2-1 in the men's softball final Saturday afternoon to win the country's eighth straight gold medal in the sport at the Pan Am Games.

It's the first time men's softball has appeared at the Pan Ams since since 2003.

Canada has won men's softball gold every time it has been contested: 1979, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 and now 2015.

Brad Ezekiel provided the heroics with a game-winning two-run home run to left-centre in the sixth inning.

That was all the offence Canada needed as pitcher Sean Cleary kept Venezuelan hitters off-balance until the seventh. He gave up a run then but held on.

Cleary settled down after some early control issues and worked out of trouble.

In the sixth, after Mathieu Roy worked a lead-off walk, Ezekiel came up as enough of a power threat that Venezuela made a defensive replacement in left field. The 28-year-old from Harbour Main, N.L., made that moot by hammering a pitch from Erick Urbaneja far enough over the fence in left-centre that the ball almost reached Taunton Road.

Cleary, one of five Newfoundland natives on Canada's roster, didn't allow his second hit until there was one out in the seventh and final inning. Venezuela's third hit scored its first run, but it wasn't enough.

Venezuelan players were visibly upset at the conclusion of the game and tried to get at the home plate umpire.

Canada dominated the tournament from start to finish, outscoring opponents 35-14 with stellar pitching and one of the best hitting teams in recent history.

Canada won the world championships in Saskatoon earlier this month.

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