PARANA, Argentina - In front of packed stadium, the USA Softball Men’s National team earned its third victory at the IX Conpasa Men's Fastpitch Panam Championship over host country Argentina in a 1-0 decision the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball announced today. Scoring in the first inning, the U.S. pitching staff was lights out from the circle, giving up just four hits combined while Josh Johnson (El Paso, Texas) came up with a clutch RBI in the first inning to give Team USA the win. With the win, USA moves to 3-3 at the IX Conpasa Men's Fastpitch Panam Championship.
"I thought the team came back and played their guts out," said Head Coach Denny Bruckert (Gillespie, Ill.). "We were in a must win situation and Gerald threw a great game. He shut them down twice throughout the batting order and then Tony closed out the game for us. Josh Johnson came up big with an RBI single in the first that proved to be the game winner. We have to come out just as strong when we face Guatemala."
USA's starting pitcher Gerald Muizelaar (Grand Forks, N.D.) came out strong in the top of the first inning, retiring Argentina in order. The U.S. struck first in the bottom half of the inning as Nate Devine (Sonora, Calif.) walked and advanced to second when Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) was hit by a pitch. With two runners on base and one out, Johnson got a timely hit for the U.S. with a line drive to right field to score Devine from second base and put the USA up 1-0.
Muizelaar came out just as strong in the second inning, retiring two Argentina batters via strikeout and a ground out to first base, bringing Team USA back to the plate. A leadoff walk to John Rozich (Oxford, Pa.) looked to get things going offensively for the U.S., but a pair of ground outs and a strikeout ended the rally.
Things were quiet for both sides until the top of the sixth inning when Argentina would load the bases with two outs. Tony Mancha (Las Cruces, N.M.) entered the circle for the U.S., giving up a leadoff single before retiring the next batter with a strikeout. A wild pitch advanced the runner to second base but was held up with a ground ball to Chris Miljavic (Easton, Mo.). Mancha then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases, but got out of the jam with a strikeout.
Leading 1-0 in the top of the seventh inning, the U.S. needed three outs to secure the upset over Argentina. A single to centerfield and a bunt put the two leadoff batters on base for Argentina, but USA's defense proved strong with two groundouts and a popup to earn them the win.
Muizelaar got the win for the U.S., pitching five complete innings with one hit, two walks and six strikeouts. Mancha pitched the final two frames, issuing three hits, two walks and two strikeouts.
"Our backs were up against the wall tonight," said Muizelaar. "It was a complete team effort, from top to bottom, and everyone contributed. We've been a bit inconsistent this week, but we beat two of the top three teams and had a lead on Canada. It just proves that we can play with anybody."
Team USA will play their final round robin game today against Guatemala at 4:30 p.m. CT. Team USA awaits their playoff schedule, which will be released following the conclusion of today's remaining matchups at the IX Conpasa Men's Fastpitch Panam Championship. You can follow all of the USA Men’s National Team action at www.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.