ORLANDO, Fla. – The USA Men’s Fast Pitch National Team entered bracket play at the ISGU International as the number one overall seed but finished 1-1 in the single-elimination format. In their first game of the day, a walk-off, three-run homer from Matt Ratliff (Sandy, Utah) sealed the win for the Americans but the pitching of Australian Adam Folkard, whose widely considered the top pitcher in the world, proved too much in game two as Team USA fell to Sureno Soy 1-0.
USA 5, Venezolanos 3
The USA Men jumped on Venezolanos early via a Chris Miljavac (Easton, Mo.) home run in the first and a Bobby Rosthenhausler (Tucson, Ariz.) RBI single that scored Nick Mullins (Toms River, NJ) in the second but the scoring stalled for the next four innings.
Josh Johnson (El Paso, Texas) earned the start in the circle for Team USA and held Venezolanos scoreless through the first four innings until three singles and a double resulted in three runs in the top of the fifth to give the South American team a 3-2 lead. The score held into the seventh and the Americans found themselves one out away from an opening game loss. Pat Sagdal (Richland, Wash.) led off the at-bat with a double and Venezolanos chose to intentionally walk Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) three batters later. With two outs and two on, trailing by one, Ratliff pinch hit and came up huge for Team USA as he connected sending a long fly ball over the fence for the walk-off victory.
Johnson finished the game with 13 strikeouts, giving up three earned runs on seven total hits.
Sureno Soy 1, USA 0
In their second game, Team USA found themselves squaring off with a team that had defeated them 5-0 just one day earlier. Sureno Soy, led by Folkard, scored one run early and it proved to be enough as they defeated the USA 1-0. A single in the first at-bat of the game was the only hit that USA pitcher Tony Mancha (Las Cruces, NM) gave up in the game but a fielding error two batters later scored the sole run of the game for Sureno Soy.
Sadgal lead the way offensively for Team USA going two-for-four with a pair of singles but the Americans struggled to bring runners home throughout the game as they stranded seven on base.
Mancha finished the game with eight strikeouts, allowing just the one unearned run on one Sureno Soy hit.
The loss ends the tournament for Team USA who finishes 6-2 on the week. Next up for the team will be the announcement of the 17-man roster later in the year, prior to the team traveling to Parana, Argentina in October for an International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championship/Pan American Games qualifier. Please visit www.USASoftball.com throughout the year for updates on the USA Men’s Fast Pitch National Team.