Stromsmoe, Orr on their golden tour of base paths

Peter Orr (Newmarket, Ont.) arrives in a cloud of dust -- with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th as Canada edged Team USA 7-6 in the Pan Am gold medal game. 

Peter Orr (Newmarket, Ont.) arrives in a cloud of dust -- with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th as Canada edged Team USA 7-6 in the Pan Am gold medal game. 

By Bob Elliott

Skyler Stromsmoe was talking on the phone from the noisy Team Canada bus lurching from Ajax to the Pan Am Athlete’s Village in down town Toronto early Monday morning.

But what was that racket in the background.

The radio?

Teammates re-hashing one of the wildest finishes to a ball game ever seen?

It took a while before the listener could identify it, but it was none other than the Back of the Bus Chorus in the midst of their lone hit:

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

The bus must have hit a bump or two as the song was a tad off key, but celebratory nonetheless.

Playing under international tie-breaking rules- runners placed on first and second with no outs - Stromsmoe was on first and Tyson Gillies on second when the bottom of the 10th began with Sean Jamieson at the plate in a bunting situation.

Team USA had done the same in the top of the 10th and scored a pair for a 6-4 lead. 

Jamieson fouled off the first two pitches and then a third. One out.

“We planned to get the bunt down but when we didn’t Larry Walker (first base coach) told me ‘two gappers and we still win,’” said Stromsmoe. “The thing about this team if one guy is struggling hitting, pitching or bunting, the other guy picks him up.”

From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.

Pete Orr blooped a single to centre and Gillies scored on a bang-bang play at the plate. Now, Canada had men on first and second with No. 3 hitter Tyler O’Neill stepping into the batter’s box.

Lefty David Huff took over. Huff has pitched 118 games in the majors with the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. He had had 58 chances and handled 57 flawlessly. His one error coming in 2012 with the Giants when he attempted to pick off Chicago Cubs Anthony Rizzo, but threw the ball away.   

In 10 years in the minors he had six errors in 138 chances 

Huff tried to pick off Orr at first throwing to first baseman Casey Kotchman, sneaking in behind. 

“I have no idea where that play came from,” said USA manager Jim Tracy.

His errant toss set in motion a track meet. 

“It was pretty wild,” said Stromsmoe, who broke for third and saw coach Stubby Clapp back peddling towards the plate frantically waving him home. “I honestly thought there would be a play on me at the plate. I slid in safely, look up and there is Pete sliding into third in a cloud of dust.”

God keep our land, glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Orr said as he led off first he was telling himself not to get picked off.

“For some reason I thought they might throw over, Walker said he had his eye on the first baseman,” said Orr, likely the only person at President’s Choice Field -- besides Walker -- worried about the first baseman sneaking in behind.

Huff’s throw sailed past first into foul territory and off went the speedy Orr on the start of his magical tour of the bases.

“I ran to second and looked to third, but Stubby was no where to be seen,” said Orr as the bus arrived at the village. Clapp had accompanied Stromsmoe up the line, a la Leo Durocher waving Pete Rose home in the 1970 all-star game when Rose flattened Ray Fosse.

“I was panicking, I had no idea what was going on behind me, Stubby was busy waving Stromsmoe home.”

Orr slid into third and noticed “out of the corner of my eye,” that the throw to third from right fielder Brian Bogusevic also was off line. Bogusevic had made seven errors in 371 chances in four seasons with the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs.

That was the cloud of dust Stromsmoe saw at third.

Up Orr got and was off. Clapp was waving him home, but Orr didn’t see him.

Third baseman Tyler Pastornicky bounced his throw home, the throw was on line and beat Orr. This time his instincts told him to slide. He slid head first into catcher Tommy Murphy.

“I knew the ball was in the catcher’s glove and it might have hit my hand, but I’m not really sure,” Orr said. “All I knew is I had to touch the plate before their catcher.”

Stromsmoe watched the throw home and said “here comes Pete sliding in another cloud of dust. Pete signalled safe and then the ump did too. I don’t know if he was going to call him out ... but them the ball trickled out loose.”

O’Neill jumped on Orr.

“He overthrew the pickoff and I saw Petey running,” said O’Neill. “Really it was a blur. I saw him going to third and it was going to be a close play there, but they threw it away and he came home ... It was really a blur to me. Still. I thought he was out. Then I saw the ball got away from him and all hell broke loose.” 

And then Stromsmoe jumped onto the pile.

“I was on the bottom,” Stromsmoe said. “I tried to cover Jordan Lennerton’s head so he wouldn’t get trampled and hoped no would step on my hand in the excitement.”

That’s what happens where you are on the low layer of an 24 player dog pile.

Stromsmoe headed for Pearson Monday bound for Sacramento, the San Francisco Giants triple-A affiliate.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Back-up catcher Chris Robinson who came out of retirement to play, will go back to coaching the Great Lake Canadians. He said he received a text from coach Kyle DeGrace of the Ontario Blue Jays which read “guess we know what trick play the Great Lake won’t be running next season.”

“It’s a shame for a first-class team like USA had to lose that way,” Orr said with sincerity. “They are a great bunch of people. We waited before shaking hands. We wanted to some them as much respect as they showed us.”

And Monday Orr flew to Denver to rejoin triple-A Colorado Springs and the Milwaukee Brewers affiliate. 

They came.

They saw.

They conquered to win gold in the most unusual way.  

 

CANADA
BATTING AND FIELDING
Player BA GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SLG% OB% SO BB IBB SH SF HP SB CS Pos GP IP PO A E FLD% DP

TOSONI R .433 8 30 7 13 2 - 1 6 .600 .500 6 3 - - - 1 - 1 RF 7 64.0 10 - - 1.000 -
SMITH T .417 5 12 2 5 - - - 1 .417 .429 2 1 - - 1 - 1 - PH 2 - - - - - -
ORR P .353 8 34 6 12 - 2 - 8 .471 .395 3 1 - - 1 2 3 - 3B 8 70.0 3 12 - 1.000 -
LENNERTON J .292 8 24 7 7 1 - 2 9 .583 .486 6 8 1 - 1 2 - 1 1B 8 72.0 70 2 - 1.000 3
GILLIES T .259 7 27 8 7 1 - 3 7 .630 .355 4 2 - - - 2 - - CF 7 64.0 13 - - 1.000 -
KJELDGAARD B .250 7 24 5 6 - - 3 7 .625 .308 9 2 - - - - - - DH 5 - - - - - -
STROMSMOE S .208 8 24 5 5 2 - 1 4 .417 .406 3 3 - - - 5 1 - 2B 8 73.0 11 21 - 1.000 4
O’NEILL T .188 8 32 5 6 - - 3 6 .469 .278 11 4 - - - - 2 - LF 7 64.0 20 1 - 1.000 -
DEGLAN K .179 8 28 2 5 - - - - .179 .233 12 1 - - - 1 - 1 C 7 62.0 56 9 - 1.000 1
JAMIESON S .179 8 28 5 5 - - - 1 .179 .369 10 6 - - 1 3 - - SS 8 73.0 11 20 - 1.000 4
HODGES J .000 1 1 - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - 3B 1 3.0 - - - - -
Totals: .264 8 269 52 71 6 2 13 49 .446 .369 69 31 1 - 4 16 7 3 8 73.0 219 76 2 .993 5

PITCHING
Player L/R W L S ERA GP GS CG Sho IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HP SH SF WP BK

AUMONT P L 2 - - 0.00 2 2 - - 13.0 6 - - - 3 - 16 - - - 2 -
DAWSON S R - - - 0.00 2 - - - 6.1 2 - - - 1 - 5 - - - - -
HILL S R 1 - - 0.00 1 1 - - 6.0 3 - - - 1 - - - - - - -
RAKKAR J R - - - 0.00 2 - - - 2.0 4 - - - - - 1 - - - - -
RUTCKYJ E R - - - 0.00 2 - - - 2.0 1 - - - 1 - 3 - - - - -
LEROUX C L 3 - - 0.71 3 2 - - 12.2 10 1 1 1 3 1 15 - - - - -
ALBERS A R - - - 2.84 3 - - - 6.1 5 4 2 2 1 1 6 - 2 - - -
FRANCIS J L - - 2 4.00 3 1 - - 9.0 8 4 4 1 1 - 9 - 1 1 - -
DYKXHOORN B R - - - 4.50 2 - - - 2.0 3 1 1 - - - 3 1 - - - -
MORTENSEN J L 1 1 - 5.91 2 2 - - 10.2 9 7 7 2 2 - 10 - - - - -
RICHMOND S R - - - 9.00 1 - - - 1.0 2 1 1 - - - 1 - - - - -
LOTZKAR K L - - - 13.50 2 - - - 2.0 3 3 3 1 - - 1 1 - - - -
Totals: 7 1 2 2.34 8 8 - - 73.0 56 21 19 7 13 2 70 2 3 1 2 -