PARANA, Argentina - The USA Men's Fastpitch National Team rebounded from their opening day loss at the IX Conpasa Men's Fastpitch Panam Championship, picking up a 2-1 (9 inning) win over Venezuela and a 4-2 victory over Cuba. Announced today by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball , Team USA's bats came alive and answered in key situations while the pitching staff continued to stifle opponents as the Red, White and Blue move to 2-1 at the tournament.
"Those were two great team wins, especially after our opening day loss," said Head Coach Denny Bruckert (Gillespie, Ill.). "Our pitchers gave everything that they had and Tony came in and shut the door when he was needed. Tony is known as a bulldog, and he showed why coming in after pitching that extra inning game against Mexico."
Game One: USA 2, Venezuela 1 (9)
The USA Men's Fastpitch National Team's defense remained resilient as the Eagles soared to a 2-1 (9 inning) win over Venezuela. Team USA's defense proved itself throughout the nine inning contest, getting eight batters out via ground balls and five batters out via fly outs.
Starting in the circle, Josh Johnson (El Paso, Texas) pitched seven strong innings, allowing just three hits throughout his seven innings pitched with one run, four walks and six strikeouts.
"Our defense was incredible," said Johnson. "With only a couple strikeouts, they did most of the work. It was a great first win, but we have some tough opponents to face still so we can't celebrate long. We have to come with our 'A' game again."
Tony Mancha (Las Cruces, N.M.) entered in relief as the game went into extra innings, throwing the final two frames with four strikeouts and one walk. Mancha also came up with a huge hit in the top of the ninth inning, connecting for an RBI single to score Nick Mullins (Toms River, N.J.) to give the U.S. the eventual 2-1 win.
Both teams would put runners on the bases in the first three innings, but key pitching and defensive plays kept either side from doing any damage. In the bottom of the third, Venezuela came close to plating a run as three walks from Johnson loaded the bases, but a huge strikeout ended the threat.
Three up, three down innings kept the game at a stalemate until the eighth inning when the International Tie Breaker Policy came into effect. With Chris Miljavic (Easton, Mo.) on second base to start the inning, Nate Devine (Sonora, Calif.) singled to right field to plate Miljavic and give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. Venezuela would not let the lead last long, however, as they brought around their own runner in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at one run apiece.
With two outs and Mullins on second base to start the top of the ninth, Mancha sent a line drive to center field to regain the lead for Team USA. That lead would prove to be enough, as key defensive plays from Bobby Rosthenhausler (Tucson, Ariz.) and Derrick Zechman (Watsontown, Pa.) and a game ending strikeout from Mancha gave the U.S. the 2-1 win.
For his efforts, Mancha earned the win, moving to 1-1 at the IX Conpasa Men's Fastpitch Panam Championship. Ramon Jones suffered the loss for Venezuela.
Game Two: USA 4, Cuba 2
Team USA took the lead early and never looked back as the Eagles captured a 4-2 win in Sunday's matchup against Cuba. The U.S. combined for five hits, while three pitchers saw action in the game. Gerald Muizelaar (Grand Forks, N.D.) got the start in the circle, throwing five full frames. Muizelaar gave up five hits, two runs and three walks while striking out six of Cuba's batters. Johnson entered in relief in the top of the sixth inning, giving up one walk and one strikeout in his one complete inning. Mancha closed out the game in the top of the seventh, allowing just one hit, one walk and striking out one.
The game was scoreless through the first three innings as both sides allowed few runners to reach base. The U.S. jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the third inning as Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) legged out a triple, scoring Pat Sagdal (Richland, Wash.) and Miljavic.
Muizelaar retired the side in order in the top of the fourth inning, bringing the hot U.S. offense back to the plate. Team USA would pad their lead in the bottom half of the inning as Sagdal singled to left field to score Marcus Tan (Union City, Calif.) and a walk to Miljavic plated Kris Bogach (Hugeunot, N.Y.). Entering the sixth inning, the U.S. held a 4-0 lead.
Cuba would not be kept off the board for much longer, however, as an RBI single from Yessander Rodgriguez closed the lead. The U.S. would get a base runner in the bottom of the fifth as Devine reached on a walk but a ground out and strikeout kept the score at 4-1, USA.
Cuba cut the lead in half in the top of the sixth inning as back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases. A fielder's choice to Mullins at short stop plated another run for Cuba to shorten USA's lead to 4-2.
The lead would prove to be enough as Mancha closed out the game in the top of the seventh. Striking out his first batter faced and getting the second to line out, a walk and a single put two runners on base for Cuba. USA's defense shut down the rally as a ground ball to Zechman at third base ended the game with the U.S. taking the 4-2 win.
Muizelaar got the win for the Eagles while Gusbal Plutin took the loss for Cuba.
Up next for the Team USA is a matchup against the Dominican Republic on October 27 at 4:30 p.m. CT. Live stats and live streaming are available via USASoftball.com.About ASA
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.