Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Team USA dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to Canada in the gold medal game of the Pan American Games Tuesday night, but it was virtually a no-lose situation for Independent Baseball.

Both teams started pitchers who were signed by major league organizations out of Independent leagues in the last year and the closer for both was someone who not only emerged from an Indy circuit but got his first professional opportunity at that level.

The raw facts were that Canadian starter Andrew Albers (Quebec, Can-Am League) and closer Scott Richmond (Edmonton, then in the Northern League, now in the North American) shut down the USA on six hits. Albers, property of the Minnesota Twins, gave up a first inning run but also struck out eight (no walks) in 6.2 innings at Lagos de Moreno, Mexico. Richmond, a onetime starter for the Toronto Blue Jays and still in their organization, worked out of a first and third, two-out jam in the seventh and was perfect for the seven batters he faced, striking out three.

USA ace Andy Van Hekken allowed a two-run double in the sixth inning, but gave up only six hits in seven strong innings. The former Somerset, NJ (Atlantic League) hurler, soon to be a free agent after pitching in the Houston chain, finished the World Cup and Pan Am competition with a 0.96 earned run average for 28 innings and won three of his four decisions.

"Andrew Albers and Scotty Richmond came through for us tonight and my-gosh, it's just a dream come true," praised Canada's manager, former major league catcher Ernie Whitt. This was Canada's first-ever opportunity in the gold medal game of a major international tournament.

Catcher-first baseman Emerson Frostad, who was signed out of Lancaster, PA of the Atlantic League during 2011, also was a member of Team Canada although he did not play in the title game. Former Edmonton infielder Stubby Clapp is a coach on the team.

Albers saved 17 games (3-0, 1.41) to help Quebec to the Can-Am League crown in 2010 before his contract was purchased by Minnesota. He was in 40 regular-season games for the Capitales, striking out 59 batters in 58 innings.

Scott Patterson, whose pro debut was with Gateway (Sauget, IL) in the Frontier League and later a reliever with Lancaster, was the Team USA closer. While he did not pitch in the finale, the right-hander had three saves in eight appearances (1.29 ERA) in the international competition. Randy Williams (Edinburg, TX, Central League) had a loss and a save in five appearances (6.00).

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