USA Men finish fourth

Feb. 08, 2004, 2:08 p.m. (ET)
USA Men finish fourth
Christchurch, N.Z.—The USA Softball Men’s National Team dropped a heartbreaker to Australia, 5-4, to finish fourth at the ISF Men’s World Championships. The U.S had a chance to tie the game in the seventh but left the bases loaded.
The U.S., which went undefeated (6-0) in pool play, was 1-2 during the playoff round to finish fourth.
The Aussies took the lead in the top of the second with three consecutive hits to start the inning. Clean-up hitter Kris Kiefel led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a single to right field by Terry Downes. Pitcher Andrew Kirkpatrick helped his cause with a single through the left side to score Kiefel and place Downes at third. A squeeze bunt by Peter Clout scored Downes and Kirkpatrick took third with heads up base running when it was left uncovered by the U.S. defense. Australia stretched its lead to 3-0 on an error by U.S. shortstop Joe Morales that allowed Kirkpatrick to score.
The lead was cut to 3-2 in the bottom of the inning after Chris DeLarwelle (Appleton, WI) and Chad Boom (Barnesville, MN) drew walks and Don Garvey (Greenville, WI) singled to load the bases. Morales made up for the error in the field with a single up the middle to drive in the two runs.
Boom put the USA right back in the game with one swing of the bat sending a 1-1 offering from Kirkpatrick over the right field wall to tie the game at 3-3.
A leadoff single by Kirkpatrick got the Aussies going again in the top of the seventh then a one out triple by Zenon Winters put them on top 4-3. The lead was stretched to 5-3 after a successful squeeze play by pinch hitter Paul Maisey scored Winters from third to give the Aussies a comfortable two run lead.
Down to its final three outs, the U.S. would not go away with a fight. Chris Miljavac (St. Joseph, MO) laced a triple to right field and Ross Dey (Sedalia, MO) singled down the right field line to cut the lead to 5-4. But despite loading the bases, the U.S. couldn’t push the tying run across and was eliminated from the tournament.
Morales drove in two RBI in the game and six different U.S. hitters collected hits.
This marks only the second time since 1966 that the U.S. Men’s team has finished out of the medals at the World Championships.
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