Men bounce back with two win
ORLANDO, Fla. – The USA Men’s National Fast Pitch Team found themselves down 0-1 in pool play to begin the day but were able to come out on top in both sets of their Friday doubleheader to improve to 2-1 entering Saturday’s bracketed portion of the tournament the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. In their first game of the day, the Americans needed two runs in the final half inning to get the win over the Padres while game number two, a 12-0 run-rule of the Bravos, was never in doubt.
“We played better today,” said USA Head Coach Pete Turner. “We’re now three games in and we’re doing what we need to do. We’re improving with each outing. Our guys know that our ultimate goal is in New Zealand at the World Championships and we just have to keep improving with every game we play.”
USA 3, Padres 2
In their first game of the day, the Americans found themselves trailing by two after the opening half inning. Josh Johnson (Brooklyn, Wis.) got the start in the circle and struggled early as he allowed two singles followed by a two-run triple in the Padres first at-bat. Team USA responded however, in the bottom half of the inning when Chase Turner (San Jose, Calif.) singled and eventually scored when Frank DeGroat Jr. (Ringwood, N.J.) grounded into a fielder’s choice. At the end of the first inning the Padres held a 2-1 lead.
The scoring slowed as Johnson retired six of the next seven batters he faced. Neither team added runs in the second and third innings and with the time limit approaching they entered the fourth still with a 2-1 score.
The Padres picked up their fifth hit of the game with one down in the top of the inning but Johnson struck out his third batter of the game and then got the next batter to ground out ending the at-bat.
In what proved to be their last shot of the game, due to the one hour and 30 minute time limit, the Americans need one run to guarantee a tie and two for the win. Trevor Kelly (Marshall, Mich.) reached on a walk and two batters later, with the Padres only needing one out for the win, Jaime Cruz Garcia Jr. (Kansas City, KS) grounded back to the pitcher but a throwing error sent the ball sailing over the first baseman’s head and brought Kelly around from second to score the tying run.
With the game tied, Garcia Jr. then reached second on a wild pitch. A walk gave Team USA runners at first and second with Turner returning to the plate. The left-hander battled but found himself trailing in the count. With two strikes he swung and missed but the Padres catcher dropped the ball and Turner took off for first. A blotched attempt to throw him out was just enough to bring Garcia Jr. around from second for the go-ahead run sealing the win for the Americans.
“It’s not every day that you get a walk-off on a dropped third strike but we’ll definitely take it,” said Turner.
USA 12, Bravos 0
Team USA started their second game of the day with the bats first and quickly capitalized on the opportunity to take an early lead. Two hits and two Bravos errors allowed the Americans to bat around their lineup in the first inning and put five runs on the board. Gerald Muizelaar (Grand Forks, N.D.) got his first start in the circle for the Red, White and Blue and made it a good one. The right hander pitched four innings striking out four batters while not surrendering a single hit. He retired the first nine batters he faced before allowing two walks in the fourth and final inning.
“It felt really good to get the start and throw well,” said Muizelaar. “My teammates really backed me up today. I just threw the ball and they made plays in the field to get outs.”
Team USA picked up a sixth run in the second and three more in both the third and fourth innings to finish with a 12-0 advantage. In all, the Bravos allowed nine USA hits and committed two fielding errors. Dave Lohman (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) lead the way offensively for the USA going 2-for-2 with a single and an inside the park homerun. The lefty also drew a walk and ultimately scored three of the team’s 12 runs.
With pool play continuing through the evening, Team USA now must wait to find out their seed in Saturday’s single-elimination bracket portion of the tournament. Visit www.USAsoftball.com to find out when the Americans will play and see live stats and photos from all of the team’s games at the ISGU International Tournament.