Albers to Start Pan Am Gold Medal Game for Canada

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- After Canada advanced to the championship game of the 2011 Pan American Games with a thrilling win over host Mexico on Monday, the Canadian team will turn to former Kentucky baseball southpaw Andrew Albers to make the start in the gold medal round, set for 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday against Team USA at the Pan American Baseball Stadium.

A native of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Albers will be making the biggest start of his baseball career on Tuesday night for his native country. Albers will be looking to lead Canada to its best finish in its Pan American Games history and its best since a bronze medal finish in 1999. Canada will finish with either a gold or silver medal after Tuesday night. The next edition of the Pan American Games is set for 2015 in Toronto.

This will be Albers’ second career start for Team Canada, also turning in a dominating performance against Puerto Rico in the 39th IABF World Cup earlier in October. Albers tossed five shutout innings in a win, facing 17 hitters with two strikeouts, two walks and only one hit allowed vs. Puerto Rico.

Albers was a workhorse on UK’s pitching staff from 2005-08, serving as a weekend starter, closer and stopper out of the bullpen during his career. With 81 career outings for UK, Albers ranks fifth in UK history and with 20 career wins, ranks fourth in UK annals. In addition, Albers owns 12 career saves, the third-best total in the history of the program.

As one of the top relievers in college baseball as a senior, Albers led UK with 31 appearances in 2008, posting a 7-4 record and a 2.40 ERA with five saves. He started a team-best 15 games in 2007, posting a 6-5 mark and a 4.85 ERA. A 10th-round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres, Albers led UK to a school-record 151 wins during his four years at UK, including the 2006 Southeastern Conference Championship.

The gold medal game will be streamed live on the official Pan American Games website.

During the 2011 minor league season, Albers played at two levels for the Minnesota Twins farm system, advancing as high as the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats in the Eastern League. Over the two levels, Albers appeared in 35 games with seven starts, posting an 8-2 record and a 2.16 ERA with four saves in 95.2 innings, striking out 80 and walking only 14. The 2011 season was Albers’ first in affiliated baseball since 2008, when he pitched for the Padres rookie-level team in Arizona. After his 2008 professional debut, Albers suffered an injury and after pitching well in independent baseball in 2010, was signed by the Twins organization as a free agent.

Since UK head coach Gary Henderson arrived in Lexington as the recruiting coordinator and pitching coach in 2004, UK has boasted a bevy of talent from Canada, including Albers, 2010 fourth-round MLB Draft pick infielder Chris Bisson and 2009 MLB Draft first-round selection southpaw James Paxton.