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Canada wins gold in Pan Am men's baseball on botched pickoff attempt

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Pete friggin' Orr
Pete friggin' Orr
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It didn't end prettily, but it probably didn't matter to Team Canada, who beat Team United States 7-6 in 10 innings and secured their second consecutive gold medal in the Pan American Games.

Extra innings in international baseball uses a weird rule to encourage offense. Teams begin each half-inning with runners on first and second, with the manager choosing where to begin in the lineup. It's ridiculous, but that's the way the games have to be played because of tight schedules. In any case, Team USA scored two runs in the top of the 10th to take a 6-4 lead.

Going into the bottom of the 10th, Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt speedster Tyson Gilles (8th batter) at second base and Skyler Stromsmoe (9th batter) at first, bringing up leadoff man Sean Jamieson. Despite my screaming into the computer against bunting (and to give slugger Tyler O'Neill the at bat), Jamieson failed to get the bunt down and struck out bunting foul for the first out. Pete Orr then came up to bloop a hit to centre field, scoring Gilles from second. Then the fun began when O'Neill, who had scorched the ball the entire game, stepped up to the plate against USA pitcher David Huff.

With runners on first and second, a set play was on and Huff tossed the ball to first in a pickoff attempt. It got away and went all the way to right field as Stromsmoe scored all the way from second base. Right behind him, Orr chugged his way around the bases and made the turn at third. The throw beat him by a lot but catcher Thomas Murphy dropped the ball and Orr scored the game- and tournament-winning run. O'Neill didn't even see a single pitch in his plate appearance.

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It really isn't clear what happened to the ball between the point where it got away from the first baseman to the catcher receiving it. Thankfully, Melissa Couto from The Canadian Press was in attendance.

The right-fielder's throw to third then went wide, allowing Orr to score the winning run as the Canadians beat the Americans for Pan Am gold for the second straight Games.

Blue Jays farmhands Jeff Francis and Andrew Albers both got game action. Francis, who had been Canada's closer, had a good-enough start, giving up four runs and eight hits through seven innings, striking out seven Americans. Albers was clean in the two "normal" innings, but gave up two runs in the top of the 10th. Those two runs, which were from the "free" runners, were credited as unearned runs.

Also deserving recognition is Rene Tosconi, who hit a three-run home run and finished the night 2-for-3.