Canada's Otto Lopez, left, celebrates after hitting a three-run home run against Colombia during the ninth inning of a World Baseball Classic game in Phoenix, Tuesday, March 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Canada beats Colombia 5-0 at World Baseball Classic, Freeman leaves game with injury

Otto Lopez hit a three-run homer, Noah Skirrow threw five quality innings in his national team debut and Canada shut out Colombia 5-0 Tuesday at the World Baseball Classic.

Canada led 1-0 going into the eighth inning, but Lopez, a Toronto Blue Jays prospect, led off the inning with a triple and was driven in by Owen Caissie’s two-out RBI single to push the lead to 2-0.

Lopez’s three-run shot in the ninth gave Canada an even bigger cushion.

Canada’s pitching staff gave up just five hits and one walk, bouncing back from a 12-1 loss to the United States on Monday.

“I couldn’t ask for much more, really,” Skirrow said. “I mean, went about as good as you could ask for it to go. Just trying to be as aggressive as I could and give us a chance to win and give us as much length as possible.”

Colombia’s Oscar Mercado had two hits. Adrian Almeida took the loss, giving up one run over three innings.

Canada first baseman and Los Angeles Dodgers star Freddie Freeman left the game in the fourth inning because of a hamstring injury. He ran gingerly out of the batter’s box after popping up in the third.

“Right now he had tightness in his hammy. And of course for precautionary reasons we took him out of the game right away,” Canada manager Ernie Whitt said. “He felt something on one of his swings, his second at-bat. So again we would do that to anyone if there’s discomfort or something like that, we’re going to take them out.”

Whitt said Freeman would likely miss Canada’s final Pool C game Wednesday against Mexico.

“We’re waiting from the doctors to see what they say and also the Dodgers,” Whitt said. “Again, that’s the most important thing is his health.”

Canada had 10 hits in the game. Leadoff hitter Edouard Julien reached base four times with two singles, a double and a walk and also stole a base. The Minnesota Twins prospect is 5-for-9 with five walks over three games.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill added two hits and a walk for Canada and is 7-for-11 in the tournament.

Canada improved to 2-1 in Group C, while Colombia is 1-2. Canada can advance to the World Baseball Classic quarterfinals for the first time with a win over Mexico.

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