Argentina outscores Junior Men
PARANA, Argentina – A crowd of 7,000 watched the USA Softball Junior Men’s National Team faceoff with the Argentinean National Team in Parana on Thursday in the first round of playoffs at the International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championship the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) announced today. The seven inning contest saw four lead changes with Argentina ultimately coming away with the 8-5 win.
USA jumped on the board first in the bottom of the second inning. Jonathan Lynch (Cape Girardeau, Mo.) gave the Americans their first base runner when he drew a walk with one out in the inning and in the next at-bat, Jake Rutt (Ephrata, Pa.) was hit by a pitch advancing Lynch to second. With the runners in position, Junior Centeno (Salem, Utah) connected on a 1-2 pitch for an infield grounder. Centeno was thrown out at first but the ground ball was enough to bring Lynch home for the first run of the game. After two innings, Team USA led 1-0.
Argentina responded in the top of the third with two runs of their own off of two hits and a USA error but the Americans retook the lead in the bottom half of the inning. With two down, Mauro Olivarria (San Diego, Calif.) walked prompting a rally that saw three consecutive USA hits resulting in four runs. After the third inning was complete the USA Junior Men had retaken the lead by three runs.
It didn’t long for Argentina to cut into that American lead. A single from the first batter of the inning in the top of the fourth was followed with a two-run homer to left field making the score USA 5, Argentina 4.
Team USA was unable to pad their lead in the bottom of the fourth going three up, three down and Argentina took advantage in the top of the fifth. With the crowd behind them, they rattled off three more runs on four hits prompting the fourth lead change of the game. The Americans continued to struggle from the plate in the bottom of the inning and after five the score was Argentina 7, USA 5.
Argentina added an insurance run in the sixth inning. After a single and stolen base gave them a runner in scoring position, third baseman Juan Cruz Zara hit a high fly ball to the gap in right-center field that was just out of Dakota Wells’ (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) reach. The ball rolled to the fence giving Zara an RBI Triple and Argentina a three-run lead.
Neither team managed to get anything going offensively in the bottom of the sixth or top of the seventh and Team USA found themselves with one last chance to get back into the game in the bottom of the seventh. A throwing error on a ground ball to third base put Justin Wurtz (New Haven, Mo.) on second base to start the at-bat but it was followed with consecutive strike outs. With two down, Lynch drew another walk to reach base for the fourth time in the game and keep Team USA’s hopes alive. With two runners on, Jake Rutt (Ephrata, Pa.) stepped to the plate representing the tying run. The right hander, already having hit two home runs in the tournament, took a called strike on the first pitch before fouling off the second and looking at a ball on the third. With a 1-2 count, Rutt swung hard and popped up to second base ending the game.
Jerlin Rutt (Bernville, Pa.), who pitched the complete seven innings, picked up his first loss of the tournament after giving up eight runs on 11 hits and recording eight strikeouts. Rutt’s tournament record now stands at 3-1.
With the loss, the USA Junior Men, 5-2 in the tournament, move on to face Canada (5-2) on Friday at 1:00 p.m. (EST) in an elimination game. The winner of USA’s game with Canada will get the opportunity to face the winner of New Zealand and Australia at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on Friday for a spot in Saturday’s medal games. Please visit www.USAsoftball.comto follow live stats and see photos from all of USA’s games at the ISF Junior Men’s World Championship.