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Canada’s Pierce LePage captures silver in world championship decathlon

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EUGENE – Canada’s Pierce LePage captured silver in the decathlon at the world track and field championships on Sunday.

The 26-year-old from Whitby, Ont., scored a personal best 8,701 points.

World record-holder Kevin Mayer of France won gold with 8,816 points in a field missing Canada’s Olympic champion Damian Warner.

American Zachery Ziemek collected the bronze (8,676).

LePage’s medal was the fourth for Canada at the world championships.

LePage led for much of Day 2 after big personal bests in the 110-metre hurdles and discus, but dropped a place behind Mayer after the javelin, the decathlon’s penultimate event.

The 1,500 metres became an intense battle between LePage and Ziemek for silver.

Warner had led the field through the first four events of Day 1, but his quest for a first world decathlon title ended with a hamstring injury in the 400 metres.

LePage has flirted with the podium numerous times, finishing fifth at both the Tokyo Olympics and 2019 world championships in Doha.

Earlier on Sunday, Moh Ahmed of St. Catharines, Ont., was fifth in the men’s 5,000 metres, the event in which he won silver at the Tokyo Olympics.

And Olympic bronze medallist Evan Dunfee of Richmond, B.C., was sixth in the men’s 35-kilometre race walk.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2022.

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Toronto Blue Jays clinch post-season berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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The Toronto Blue Jays locked up a playoff spot Thursday afternoon without taking the field, securing a berth when the Boston Red Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

Canada’s lone big-league team got the good news on an off-day ahead of Friday’s series opener against the visiting Red Sox.

With downtime valuable during the stretch drive, the team was expected to celebrate the accomplishment after the series opener against the Red Sox.

It will be Toronto’s first post-season appearance since the truncated 2020 campaign. With six games left to play, the Blue Jays can now turn their focus to playoff positioning.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home.

“So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

If Toronto maintains its grip on the first of three American League wild-card seeds, then the Blue Jays would play at Rogers Centre for the best-of-three first-round series.

The second- and third-seeded wild-card teams would open on the road.

It’s part of a new Major League Baseball playoff format this year. The top two division winners in each league get byes to the division series.

The third-ranked division winner will host the third wild-card seed (No. 6 seed overall) in one wild-card series and the top wild-card entry (No. 4 seed overall) welcomes the second wild-card seed (No. 5 overall) in the other.

Entering play Thursday, Toronto had a 1 1/2-game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays and a two-game cushion on the Seattle Mariners.

The Rays were scheduled to play the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday night and the Mariners were set to entertain the Texas Rangers.

The Yankees have already clinched the East Division title.

Toronto was swept by the Rays in the wild-card series in 2020. It was the Blue Jays’ first playoff appearance since 2016.

Toronto won World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.

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Blue Jays fan Frankie Lasagna just misses catching Aaron Judge’s 61st home run ball

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By Gregory Strong in Toronto

Blue Jays fan Frankie Lasagna grabbed a baseball glove from his garage before heading down to Rogers Centre for Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees.

With Aaron Judge on the verge of baseball history, Lasagna wanted to be prepared just in case the Yankees slugger hit his 61st homer of the season.

“I would never ever bring a glove other than this situation,” Lasagna said. “I needed a bigger one.”

The 37-year-old Toronto restaurant owner came agonizingly close to catching the historic ball when Judge went deep in the seventh inning.

Lasagna stretched over the railing but the ball hit the wall just a few feet below and bounced into the Toronto bullpen. A Yankees security official later came by to collect it.

The blast tied Judge with Roger Maris, who set the American League’s single-season home run record in 1961.

Lasagna bought his ticket in the front row of the 100 level thinking it would improve his odds of catching the ball if Judge went deep.

“In the front row I felt like you’ve got the best chance,” he said. “Lo and behold, I was just a few feet away.”

Lasagna said the anticipation built during every Judge at-bat.

“It’s like you’re in the game, you’re fielding and getting ready for the pitch,” he said. “When he hit the ball, it was like ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ I think I hit my buddy in his neck (as I stretched out). I almost got it.”

Lasagna could only look down into the bullpen as the ball — which could have been worth big bucks to a collector — bounced a couple times before it was picked up.

“The disbelief comes over you and just the shock and the amazement,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I almost had it.'”

One fan seated near Lasagna, still clearly frustrated at just missing the ball, declined to be interviewed.

Lasagna, sporting a baby blue Vladimir Guerrero Jr., jersey, said he would have kept the ball if he had caught it.

“I would have held on to it for as long as I could (to) negotiate,” he said. “Maybe get Judge to try to come to the restaurant.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

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