U.S. Men defeat Japan
Christchurch, N.Z.---The USA Men’s National Team proved it is a true contender at the IX ISF Men’s World Championships taking down world silver medalist Japan in convincing fashion. Despite falling behind early, the U.S. rallied for a 7-3 win to remain undefeated in the championship.
Doug Middleton (Blue Springs, MO) went the distance in the circle allowing only three runs in the complete game effort. Middleton scattered six hits, allowed two walks and fanned seven.
Japan took an early advantage in the first inning posting three runs on just two hits. After a leadoff walk to Hiroshi Ishimura and an infield single by Shinichi Nagayoshi, clean-up batter Tomoaki Okamoto hit a three-run homer to deep left field.
The U.S. was unable to respond in the bottom of the first inning but managed to cut the lead to 3-2 in the third. With one out, Chad Boom (Barnesville, MN) singled up the middle and Don Garvey (Greenville, WI) hit a towering shot over the left field fence to get the U.S. back in the game.
“We knew we had to get the momentum turned in our direction and after Chad got on base I just wanted to keep things going,” Garvey said. “You never expect to hit it out but it’s nice when it happens.”
In the bottom of the third inning the U.S. batters took control of the game scoring five runs on three hits but were aided by two Japan errors. Chris DeLarwelle (Appleton, WI) got the rally started with a one out walk. Mike Dryer (Blue Springs, MO) then singled through the right side to put runners at first and third. Boom continued the rally, collecting his second hit of the game with a single down the left field line that scored DeLarwelle and moved Dryer to second.
“You never want to fall behind early, but I had the confidence in this team and their talents to know that we had the ability to come back,” head coach Peter Turner said.
After a pitching change, Garvey was walked to load the bases for Todd Garcia (Woodbridge, CA), who drilled a shot to right field scoring two more runs.
The final runs of the inning came when Steve Schott (Kelso, MO) hit a hard grounder that was misplayed by the shortstop allowing two runs to cross the plate.
”Japan is one of the top teams in this tournament and we knew we would have a battle with them tonight,” Turner said. “They will be in the playoffs and I would not be surprised to see them in the top three again at these championships.”
Boom was on fire at the plate going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Dryer and Garcia each collected two hits while Garcia and Garvey both plated two RBI.
With the win the U.S. is tied atop Pool B with the Czech Republic who is also undefeated at 3-0. The two teams meet at 7:30 p.m. CST on Monday, February 2.
The U.S. is the No. 3 seed at the XI ISF Men’s World Championship and looks to capture its first World title since 1988. The U.S. is paired with Japan, Czech Republic, Argentina, Botswana, Great Britain and Hong Kong in Pool B. The gold medal game of the championship is scheduled for Saturday, February 7 at 9 p.m. EST.