Men’s National Team claims Bronze Medal at Pan American Championship

Sept. 24, 2017, 9 p.m. (ET)

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic — The USA Softball Men’s National Team (MNT) claimed the Bronze Medal at the Pan American Championship Sunday, its first international medal for the U.S. since 2003, USA Softball announced. After advancing to the medal round following their 6-5 victory over Canada, Team USA dropped a 7-2 decision to Argentina before falling to Venezuela, 5-4, in the Bronze Medal game.

“I am tremendously proud of this team and what we accomplished here at the Pan American Championship,” said Head Coach Gregg Leather. “The team went through a lot given the two hurricanes that unfortunately affected the area and the subsequent delays and rainouts that followed. The team never looked for an excuse and tried their best to keep all distractions off the field. We came into this tournament with some goals; to get double life in our pool, win a medal, and be on top of the podium receiving a medal. We came up short on the last goal but are very happy with the Bronze Medal we did earn. Several young players were added to the squad and they all stepped up this past week. The team is where we are as a direct result of (former Head Coach) Denny Bruckert and all of the time and effort he has put in, and we were inspired by his messages throughout the week.”

Game One: Argentina 7, USA 2

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Originally slated for Saturday, Sept. 23, the MNT started their game against Argentina before weather delays would cause the game to stop in the fourth inning late Saturday evening.

Argentina jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after back-to-back singles put runners on base before a two-out single by Zara plated two runs to make it 2-0. A walk was issued next before Argentina tacked on another two runs off a two RBI double. Heading into the bottom half of the frame trailing 4-0, Nick Mullins (Toms River, N.J.) and Erick Ochoa (Imperial, Calif.) were issued two straight walks before a ground ball single from Jeff Nowaczyk (Midland, Mich.) and an error by Argentina’s infield plated courtesy runner, Tyler Dudley (Battle Creek, Mich.) to make it 4-1.

Joel Cooley (St. Paul, Minn.) entered the circle to replace Duane Weiler (Richland, Pa.) in the second inning. Argentina was issued a leadoff walk to start the second but was retired by the U.S. defense to bring the Red, White and Blue back to the plate. Despite Chase Turner (San Jose, Calif.) reaching first on an error by the shortstop, Argentina would convert an infield hit into a double play next before a fly out finished the second.

While both teams would come up scoreless in the third, the game would be halted in the top of the fourth due to heavy rain. Argentina and Team USA continued the game Sunday morning at approximately 9 a.m. CT where Argentina’s 4-1 lead carried into the fifth inning. It was then that Argentina extended their lead and ultimately secured their victory. A leadoff single and walk put two on before a home run tacked on an additional three runs to the scoreboard. Jonathan Lynch (Cape Girardeau, Mo.) doubled in the bottom half of the fifth and after a two-out RBI single from Cameron Schiller (Prescott, Ariz.), it looked as if the Americans were going to rally, however, a fly out to center field ended their chances.

The Red, White and Blue would succumb to pitcher Maxi Montero and the Argentina defense after the lineup was retired in order through the final two innings. Tony Mancha (Las Cruces, N.M.) took the loss for the U.S., pitching one inning and surrendering four runs on four hits and striking out one. The lone two hits of the game came from Lynch and Schiller, who both went 1-for-3. With the loss, Team USA moved on to face Venezuela in the Bronze Medal game of the Pan American Championship.

Game Two: Venezuela 5, USA 4

Click here for a box score

In the Bronze Medal game of the Pan American Championship, it proved to be a back-and-forth battle for both USA and Venezuela who played seven innings and fought for the chance to advance to the Gold Medal finale.

Both sides were retired through the first inning, with the U.S. unable to score after a fly out, line out and strikeout kept them off base. Kevin Castillo (Long Beach, Calif.) was hit by a pitch in the top of the second with two outs but a strikeout dealt to Turner sent Venezuela to the plate, where they took the lead on a two-run shot over the left field fence.

Down 2-0, the U.S. cut the lead in the top of the third after Yusef Davis (Long Beach, Calif.) doubled on a fly ball to left field before a two-out RBI single from Lynch brought him home and made it 2-1. Lynch then advanced to second after Ochoa was hit by a pitch before Dudley was issued a walk to make the bases loaded. Hoping to garner up some two-out magic and take the lead, the U.S. was stopped via strikeout to end the top of the third inning. A RBI double by Venezuela in the bottom of the third prompted a U.S. pitching change to Cooley, while a RBI single followed to make it 4-1 after three innings.

The Red, White and Blue battled back and responded in the top of the fourth with a RBI single from Davis to make it 4-2. With one out and two runners on, a fielder’s choice double play by Venezuela quickly stopped the U.S. momentum. However, Cooley kept at it and retired their lineup in order via three straight strikeouts in the bottom half.

The score remained 4-2 until the sixth inning where the U.S. offense looked to make a comeback. Castillo led off with a single and Turner was hit by a pitch, before Jenner Christiansen (Castro Valley, Calif.) grounded into a fielder’s choice getting Castillo out at third. Despite a strikeout coming next, Schiller singled to left field which plated Turner and Christiansen and made it a tie ballgame.

It wouldn’t be tied for long as a two-out single put Venezuela on the bag before a RBI double to right field brought the runner home. That run would ultimately seal the fate for the U.S. who ended the Pan American Championship finishing in third place and receiving the Bronze Medal after the 5-4 loss.

As a team, the U.S. hit .237 with 11 home runs and recorded 56 RBI in 10 games played. Ochoa and Nowaczyk led the team with nine RBI apiece. From the circle, the U.S. staff combined for a 2.904 ERA and 62 strikeouts.

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