PARANA, Argentina - It was a battle of the pitchers in the USA Softball Men’s National Team opening game of the IX Conpasa Men's Fastpitch Panam Championship against Mexico as the U.S. came up short in a 2-1 (11 inning) loss the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA softball announced today. Tony Mancha (Las Cruces, N.M.) was nearly lights out from the circle, throwing a complete game with 18 strikeouts, three hits and one earned run.
"It was a tough loss to start the tournament," said Head Coach Denny Bruckert (Gillespie, Ill.). "Their pitcher really moved the ball around and made some key pitches in key situations. Tony pitched great and got us out of a lot if situations with their big hitters up at the plate, but we need to start coming up with the big hits in big situations."
Pitching dominated the first half of the matchup as neither side produced a hit until the top of the fourth inning. The U.S. would get a base runner in their first at-bat as Chris Miljavic (Easton, Mo.) would reach on a hit-by-pitch but would later be called out after leaving the base early.
Mancha came out strong in the circle for the U.S, retiring Mexico in order through the first two innings. A leadoff walk in the bottom of the third put the first Mexico runner on base, but Mancha and the USA defense retired the threat with a sac bunt, strikeout and fly out.
Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) produced the first hit of the game in the top of the fourth with a two-out single to center field, but a ground out to third base brought the U.S. defense back out on the field. Mexico scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth, pushing a run across on an RBI single from Ruben Delgadillo. A leadoff hit-by-pitch and a walk put two runners on for Mexico with one out before Delgadillo connected for a single to center field to plate Cesar Rodriguez. With runners on the corner, Mancha came up big for the U.S., producing a pop-up to third and a strikeout to end the damage with just one run on the board.
The Red, White and Blue responded with their own run in the top of the fifth inning as Nick Mullins (Toms River, N.J.) reached on a walk with two outs. Entering as a pinch runner, Tyler Dudley (Battle Creek, Mich.) advanced to third on a single from Nate Devine (Sonora, Calif.) and came around to score after Pat Sagdal (Richland, Wash.) hit a line drive to left field.
Both teams failed to push any additional runs across the plate through the next two innings, forcing the game into extra innings. With the International Tie Breaker policy in effect, Mullins started the top of the eighth inning on second base and advanced to third on a one-out single from Sagdal. With runners on the corner, back-to-back pop-ups kept Mullins from scoring, bringing the bottom half of Mexico's lineup to the plate.
Mancha worked his way out of a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the eighth to keep the game going into the ninth inning. Miljavic started at second in the top of the ninth and advanced to third on a groundout from Palazzo. A walk to Derrick Zechman (Watsontown, Pa.) and Chase Turner (San Jose, Calif.) loaded the bases for the U.S. with two outs, but a fly ball to left field kept the U.S. from doing any damage.
Mancha continued to shine in the bottom half of the inning, retiring Mexico in order with three strikeouts. Neither team could produce a run in the tenth inning and the U.S. could not push a run across in the top of the eleventh. In the bottom of the inning, Mexico's Jesus Medina started at second base and an intentional walk to Delgadillo put two runners on base for Mexico. With no outs, Erick Ochoa connected for a single to left field to plate Medina and give Mexico the 2-1 win.
Mancha took the loss for the U.S., pitching the complete game with 18 strikeouts while allowing just three hits and one earned run.
" I felt good during the game," said Mancha. "Hopefully I can keep the momentum going throughout the rest of the tournament and our offense can come alive ."
Eduardo Escobedo got the win for Mexico. He allowed one run over 11 innings, striking out 11, walking three and giving up four hits.
Up next for the U.S. is a matchup against Venezuela at 4:30 p.m. CT. Live stats and live streaming are available via USASoftball.com.
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 165,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2.5 million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of the only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles as well as claimed seven World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com.