Albers shines as Canada no-hits Colombia to open Olympic qualifier with win

Andrew Albers (Nathan Denette/CP)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Former big-leaguer Andrew Albers and two relievers combined to no-hit Colombia, and Canada opened up its Baseball Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament with a 7-0 victory on Monday.

Albers went seven scoreless innings, and threw 66 of his 90 pitches for strikes to finish with seven strikeouts.

"It was a great way to start the tournament," said Albers.

"It's really nice when the offence goes out and puts up six runs for you and we played great defence behind me so all in all it's a great night for us and a great start."

Brendan McGuigan and Ben Onyshko finished off the no-hitter for the Canadians with an inning each, adding two strikeouts apiece for a total of 11 for Canada.

"I can't say enough about (Albers)," said Canada manager Ernie Whitt. "He commanded the strike zone, changed speeds and had their hitters off balance and when they did put the ball in play we defended very well."

Canada (1-0) opened the game with a two-run first and then blew it open with a four-run second for an early 6-0 lead.

Jacob Robson went 3 for 4 with three RBIs including a bases-clearing triple in the second along with two runs.

Eric Wood hit a solo shots in the seventh to cap the offensive outburst.

Colombia (0-1) starter Moreno Alvarez lasted just 1 2/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on five hits and a walk.

Canada had eight hits in all, six of them singles.

"We've been talking about cutting (our) swings down and putting the ball in play so that things can happen (offensively)," said Whitt. "Colombia had three errors today and walks so that helped too."

Canada, currently ranked 13th in the world and one spot ahead of Columbia, is in Palm Beach and St. Lucie, Fla., at the May 31-June 5 competition.

The winner of the eight-team tournament will qualify for the Tokyo Games this summer. The second- and third-place finishers will compete at a last-chance qualifier for the sixth and final entry at the Olympics.

Canada is competing in Group B and will face Cuba on Tuesday and Venezuela on Wednesday to wrap up preliminary-round action.

The host Americans are in Group A with the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. The top two countries in each group will advance to the Super Round.

Teams will play two Super Round games with head-to-head contests from the opening round counting toward the Super Round standings. The team with the best Super Round record will be declared the winner.

Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Israel have already secured berths in the Tokyo field.

The national team last competed internationally in 2019 at the WBSC Premier12 in South Korea. Canada beat Cuba and lost to the host team and Australia in first-round play.

All international baseball events were either cancelled or postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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