Men finish out ISGU tournament with one win and one loss
ORLANDO, Fla. – The USA Men’s Fast Pitch National Team entered Saturday’s 28-team bracket portion of the International Sports Group Union (ISGU) tournament looking to pick up three wins and advance to Sunday’s semifinals. The day started well as the Americans scored five runs in the first three innings on their way to defeating Barraquitas 9-3 in game one. However, in their second game Team USA struggled to get much going offensively and fell to Excellent Car Service by a final of 3-1 the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and USA Softball announced today.
“We didn’t make it as far as we had hoped in this tournament,” said USA Head Coach Pete Turner. “We would have liked to be playing on Sunday. But the fact remains that we came here to get better and prepare for March’s [International Softball Federation| World Championships and I think we were able to lay a solid foundation to build on as we prepare for that event in just over a month. As a coaching staff we saw much improvement from the first game we played on Thursday to today.”
USA 9, Barranquitas 3
In game one, the eighth seeded American’s took the field with the tournament’s twentieth seed Barraquitas. Pitching dominated the opening inning of the game as both teams went three up, three down in their first at-bats. As the visiting team on the scoreboard, Team USA came alive in the top of the second with three runs off two hits and two walks. The rally was capped off by a Todd Schultz (Williamston, Mich.) single that scored two.
In the bottom half of the inning, Travis Price (Orange, Calif.) and the American defense gave one run back as they allowed three hits in the inning but at the end of the second Team USA still held a 3-1 lead.
Three walked to start the next USA at-bat loaded the bases and prompted a pitching change for Barranquitas but despite the fresh arm, Josh Johnson (Brooklyn, Wis.) and Dave Lohman (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) hit back-to-back run scoring sacrifice-flies to extend the team’s lead to 5-1.
Barranquitas picked up another run in the bottom of the third off of two hits but soon after the bats went cold for both teams. The 5-2 score held steady until the sixth inning when the home team cut slightly into the American lead with their third run.
Looking to pad their lead in the top of the seventh, Team USA responded with a bit of a hitting clinic that saw three singles and two doubles resulting in four more USA runs. The lead was extended to 9-3. Gerald Muizelaar (Grand Forks, N.D.), who had entered the circle to relieve Price in the fifth, pitched a 1, 2, 3 inning in the bottom to secure the win for the USA Men.
Excellent Car Service 3, USA 1
With the opening round win, Team USA went on to face Excellent Car Service, who had earlier defeated El Dorado 9-0 in round one. The offense that had earlier in the day produced nine runs on eight hits struggled to get much going in game two. Jaime Cruz Garcia Jr. (Kansas City, Kan.) opened the game with a single but was caught stealing later in the inning. That out started a streak of 12 USA batters who failed to reach base through the first four innings of the game.
Despite the lack of offense, Muizelaar, who started the game at pitcher, managed to keep Excellent Car Service’s bats fairly quiet until the third inning. Two hits and a USA error allowed two runs to cross for the American opponents in the third. The 2-0 score held for two innings before the visiting team added a third run off of three hits in the top of the fifth.
Team USA scored their only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth when Adam LaLonde (Ashland, Ky.) lead off with a single and Garcia Jr. drove him in with a hit later in the inning. Another Team USA single from Matt Palazzo (Des Moines, Iowa) gave them two runners on base but a strikeout and fly out left the runners stranded.
In the end, the USA Men’s National Team couldn’t find enough offense to overcome the deficit as they fell by a final of 3-1, eliminating them from the tournament.
The Americans will now turn their focus towards to ISF World Championships scheduled for March 1-10 in New Zealand. Team USA will practice as a team for the final time on American soil Sunday before traveling overseas in late February for the 10-day tournament. The Red, White and Blue are slated to open pool play against defending Champion Australia. You can follow all of the National Team’s games in the ISF World Championship at www.USAsoftball.com