It's rarely a good idea to spot the opposition a 5-0 lead. Especially when your opponent happens to be the No. 1 ranked team in the world.
The Canadian women's baseball team found that out the hard way when it gave up four runs in the first inning and another in the third en route to a humbling 13-3 defeat in the Pan Am gold-medal game Sunday afternoon.
Nevertheless, placing second was Canada's best-ever international finish and the team got silver medals.
"They have a great team and they never quit," said U.S. manager Jonathan Pollard. "Every single time we play them we know it's never over until the final out."
Pollard makes a good point. After his team pulled ahead 5-0, Canada started to peck away at the lead, cutting it to 5-3 at one point. However, Team USA, which was undefeated in the tournament and outscored its opponents 44-10, was not to be denied.
"It was not the idea outcome, but at the end of the day we made a good run at it and we sincerely hope people realize the girls [from both teams] can play baseball," said Team Canada manager Andre Lachance. "We're not softball. We hope also we will remain a Pan Am Games sport."
This is the first time women's baseball has been included in a multi-sport event.
"When people see women's baseball for the first time they are amazed," Lachance said.
Pollard was highly complementary of Canada, the Pan Am Games volunteers and women's baseball in general. He pointed out winning the first Pan Am games gold is more about the sport in general than anything it says about American baseball.
"The entire world needs to respect this and come and see it and support it," Pollard said. "Give it a chance and you'll see how great women are capable of playing. I respect the Canadian crowds so much. I love the pride Canadians take in their country. I can honestly say I am leaving Canada without one negative thing to say."
Canada strands 12
Canada's starting pitcher Vanessa Riopel lasted just one-third of an inning, giving up four runs on three hits and a walk. All told, Canada used five pitchers and gave up 12 hits.
American starter Sarah Hudek allowed three runs on four hits with five walks and two strikeouts. Reliever Stacy Piagno got the win, giving up two hits with four strikeouts and a walk in 3 2/3 innings work.
Canada lost 3-1 to the United States Friday and knew it was going to be a tough task to win the gold medal.
"With the U.S. you cannot make any mistakes," Lachance said. "To their credit they played a better game today. Every time they had runners in scoring position they scored a runner, which we failed to do today."
That is an understatement.
Twice Canada loaded the bases, but got nothing to show for it at the end of the inning. All told, Canada left 12 runners stranded on base.
"We had our opportunities," Lachance said. "We hit the ball and we had runners on base. We ran the pitch count on their starter [Sarah Hudek] and had runners in scoring position, but the big hit never came.