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Olympic dream ends for Port Moody outfielder

The Olympic dream is over for Port Moody's Michael Crouse after the Canadian national team lost 6-5 to the Dominican Republic at a qualifying tournament in Florida on Saturday.
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Port Moody's Michael Crouse gestures after striking out in a game against the United States last Friday.

It’s back to hotdogs for Port Moody’s Michael Crouse.

The 30-year-old outfielder is headed back to the Chicago Dogs of independent minor pro baseball league, the American Association, after his Canadian national team failed to qualify for a spot in the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Canada gave up two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to lose its final game of the Super Round qualifier tournament, 6-5, to the Dominican Republic in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Saturday.

After earning a berth amongst the final four teams in of the Baseball Americas Olympic Qualifier with a stunning upset victory over Cuba last Wednesday, Canada lost all three of its games against fellow finalists, including the United States and Venezuela.

The U.S. won all three of its Super Round games, and will be one of six teams at the Olympic tournament. The Dominican Republic and Venezuela will get another chance to qualify in the final qualifying tournament beginning June 22 in Mexico against sixth-ranked Australia and ninth-ranked Netherlands. Israel, Mexico, Japan and Korea have already earned places in the Tokyo Games.

Canada needed a win against the Dominican Republic to keep its Olympic dream alive, and the future looked bright after they scored three runs in the top of the first inning.

But the Dominican team chipped away with one run in the second and two more in the bottom of the third inning to tie it, then took the lead with another run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Canada evened the score, 4-4, in its half of the sixth inning then scored again in the top of the eighth to take a 5-4 lead.

Crouse went 0 for 4 and struck out once.

Canada’s manager, Ernie Whitt, said the team equated itself well despite the disappointing result.

“We left everything on the field, and that’s something that Team Canada has always done,” he said. “Our guys have nothing to hang their heads about.”

Friday, 13th-ranked Canada lost 10-1 to the United States, and on Wednesday it was beaten 5-0 by Venezuela in the first game of the Super Round.

The latter was the team’s first setback in the tournament after it had defeated three-time Olympic gold medalists, Cuba, 6-5, last Tuesday. In that game, Crouse hit a solo homerun, walked and stole a base. Canada also beat Colombia, 7-0, in the tournament’s opening game.

Canada played twice in the Olympic tournament that ran from 1992 to 2008. In 2004, it lost the bronze-medal game to Japan.

The sport is making its return to the Summer Games after a hiatus of 13 years.

Crouse, who grew up in Port Moody’s Genayre neighbourhood, is in his second season with the Dogs, a team that’s named after hot dogs and has a mustard squeeze bottle as its mascot. In six games so far this season, he’s hitting .217 with three runs batted in.

Crouse is also a veteran of Canada’s national team. He helped the team win gold at the 2011 Pan Am games in Mexico, as well as silver at the 2019 Pan Ams. He also has a bronze medal from the 2011 World Baseball Classic in Panama.