By John Matisz/London Community News
Team Canada is golden in baseball for the very first time at the senior level on an international stage. And three London Badgers alumni were right in the thick of things.
Members of the 2011 Pan American Games gold medal-winning squad included Jamie Romak of London, Chris Robinson of Dorchester, and Brock Kjeldgaard of London by way of Edmonton, Alba. The monumental win took place in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, Tuesday night (Oct. 25) versus Team United States (US), via a 2-1 final score. Cuba defeated Mexico in the bronze medal game.
All three local players used to suit up for the London Badgers baseball organization. Last night, they were all in the starting lineup for Canada.
Robinson, a catcher for the Chicago Cubs' Iowa affiliate who took on designated hitter duties versus the Americans in the final, called the feelings associated with the historic win "tough to describe," noting "to accomplish what we accomplished with this group of guys is something we will be able to share forever."
"(I'm) really looking forward to getting home and sharing our gold medals with all of our family and friends," Robinson added.
Robinson's temporary teammate Romak is a Kansas City Royals prospect who was nearly speechless following the gold medal game, stating he was "incredibly pumped." Romak played right field for Team Canada in the final while Kjeldgaard, right next to him, manned centre field.
In the top of the sixth versus the US, Richmond, BC's Jimmy van Ostrand hit a two-out double, giving Canada the go-ahead run. They held on to the one-run margin on the back of pitcher Scott Richmond.
In early October, Team Canada, with a large bulk of the same players, captured the bronze medal in the 2011 International Baseball Federation (IBAF) World Baseball Cup in Panama. Collectively, the pair of tournament victories could make a strong case for the team being considered Canada's most accomplished squad to partake in international competition.
Canada, presently ranked seventh in the world by IBAF, was coached in both events by former Major League Baseball catcher Ernie Whitt, who is actually an American.
"I'm a US citizen but I feel like a Canadian at heart," Whitt said in a statement. "I couldn't be more proud of these kids and more proud to have Canada written across my chest."