AUCKLAND, New Zealand – The USA Men’s Fastpitch National Team found themselves on the winning side of their pool play matchup with Czech Republic on Monday in the International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championship the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of American and USA Softball announced today. The Americans used six runs on five hits in their first at-bat to jump out early on the Czechs. USA captain Todd Schultz (Williamston, MI) led the way offensively going two-for-four with three RBI on a single in the first inning and a homerun in the fifth inning.
“It’s nice to get the win.” said USA Head Coach Pete Turner. “We finally capitalized on early base runners and it helped us build a good lead early. That was key to us getting the win. It was one of those games where you just never quite felt comfortable with your lead. We knew we needed to keep scoring because they could go on a run at any time and that’s what we did. We put runs on the board in four of our six at-bats.”
After batting around their lineup in the first inning, USA starting pitch Gerald Muizelaar (Grand Forks, ND) kept the Czech bats quiet in the top of the second and USA was able to pad their lead in the bottom half of the inning when Roman Foore (Rosemount, Minn.) doubled to score Jaime Garcia Jr. (Kansas City, Kan.) from first base.
Just when the Americans were thinking run rule, Czech Republic came alive in the top of the third. Five hits, a hit batter and an error helped the Czech’s to six runs in the inning, putting them just one shy of Team USA. Josh Johnson (Brooklyn, Wis.) entered the circle in relief of Muizelaar and stopped the bleeding as he retired three of four to end the inning.
The USA held their one-run lead to the fourth before a Derrick Zechman (Watsontown, Pa.) RBI single followed by a solo homer from Marcus Tan (Union City, Calif.) provided some breathing room.
In their next at-bat, still holding a 9-6 lead, Schultz blasted a shot over the center field fence for his second hit of the game. The four-run lead was short lived as Petr Vacha of the Czech led off the top of the sixth with a homerun of his own. The solo shot brought Czech Republic within three runs of the USA but it wouldn’t be enough as Johnson retired six of the next nine batters he faced to get the win for the Red, White and Blue.
With the win, the USA Men move to 1-3 in pool play. They will next face Indonesia (0-4) on Tuesday at 2:30 PM local time. Pool play will continue through March 7 when the top four teams from each pool will be seeded into a bracket scheduled for March 8-10. You can follow all of the USA Men’s National Team action at www.USASoftball.com.