Junior Men's National Team sees split day to close out Las Vegas Road Trip XI

By Codi Warren (cwarren@usasoftball.com) | April 07, 2018, 6:48 p.m. (ET)

Paul Miklovic leads off on second base for Team USA.

LAS VEGAS -   The USA Softball Junior Men’s National Team’s (JMNT) run at the Las Vegas Road Trip XI has come to an end as the team split the day. The JMNT earned a 13-5 win over the Blue Jays in their first contest of the day but were unable to overcome a seven-run first inning in a 9-6 loss to the Athletics.

“I like where we were offensively this weekend,” said Head Coach, Tyron McKinney (Ashland, Ohio).  “I thought we swung the bats really well.  Defensively there’s some stuff we’ve got to get better at.  We’ve got to work with our pitchers on getting ahead in the count and staying ahead in the count.  We’ve got to pitch according to our defense.  If we do those type of things we’ll be okay.  We’ve got a young and scrappy group of guys which I like.  They never gave up all weekend.  I like the direction we’re going in, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.” 

USA 13, Blue Jays 5

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Team USA scored multiple runs per inning as the offense exploded for a 13-5 win over the Blue Jays.  Sparked by the hot bat of Justin Martinez (Covina, Calif.), Team USA took an early lead in the first and never looked back.

A two-out rally brought home the first runs of the game for the U.S. after Craig Lewis (Winston, Mo.) drove in the first run of the game with an infield single to bring the speedy Paul Miklovic (Caro, Mich.) home.  Jason Obregon, Jr. (Pico Rivera, Calif.) followed with an infield single to plate Chayton Lloyd (Lakeside, Calif.) before a passed ball allowed C. Lewis to score the third run of the at-bat.  The Blue Jay cut the lead to just one run, however, in the bottom of the first inning after two singles drove in a pair of runners.

Team USA plated an additional three runs in the top of the second inning after Travis Miller (Kewaunee, Wis.) led off with a single and advanced to second on a fielding error by the center fielder.  With Miller scoring on a double from Jeff Lewis (Amboy, Minn.), a walk to Miklovic put two runners on base until Martinez tripled to extend the lead to 6-2.

The U.S. made it a 9-2 ballgame in the top of the third inning after Seth Brandel (Houghton Lake, Mich.) tripled to bring in Obregon, Jr., who reached on a walk.  A double from Miller brought home Brandel and then a single from Dustin Thompson (Nevada City, Calif.) plated Ethan Rodriguez (San Ramon, Calif.), who entered to run for Miller.

The Blue Jays scored a run in the bottom of the third, but the Red, White and Blue responded with four runs in the top of the fourth to go up by 10 runs.  Tony Wark (Munger, Mich.) walked and scored on a double from Martinez.  Lloyd then hit his second home run of the weekend and was followed by back-to-back singles from C. Lewis and Derek Gomez (Austin, Texas).  A single by Jose Dominguez, Jr. (Union City, Calif.) plated those two runners, giving Team USA a 13-3 edge over the Blue Jays.  Down to their final at-bat, the Blue Jays would cut the lead to eight runs after scoring two, but Team USA would walk away with the win.

Martinez was nearly unstoppable at the plate, going 2-for-3 with three RBI and one run scored.  Nathan Landry (Indian Brook, Nova Scotia) picked up the win, going the full four innings with one earned run and two strikeouts.

Athletics 9, USA 6
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A seven-run deficit proved to be too much to overcome for Team USA as they dropped a 9-6 decision to the Athletics in their final game of the Las Vegas Road Trip XI.  The U.S. pitching staff struggled in the loss, allowing 10 batters to reach on walks.

A leadoff double, a walk and a single put the first run on the board for the Athletics in the top of the first and then back-to-back walks from C. Lewis loaded the bases.  A bases loaded walk, two singles and a fielding error by the U.S. defense put the Red, White and Blue down by seven runs before a popup to J. Lewis at second bases ended the at-bat.

Both sides would get runners on base but fail to get their offenses going until the bottom of the fourth inning when Team USA got on the board with a pair of runs.  A leadoff single from Obregon, Jr. and a walk to Gomez put two on with no outs.  A wild pitch allowed Martinez, who entered as a courtesy runner for Obregon, Jr., and Gomez to advance a base before an error allowed Martinez to score.  Trey Brown (Sanford, Fla.) drove a ball up the middle to bring Gomez home and cut the Athletics lead to 7-2.

Two more runs by the Athletics put the U.S. down by seven heading into their final at-bat, but the young U.S. roster showed their grit and refused to go down without a fight.  A leadoff single from Dominguez, Jr. and back-to-back passed balls put a runner in scoring position with one out.  The U.S. looked to score after Miklovic hit a ground ball to shortstop, but Dominguez, Jr. was called out attempting to swipe home on the play. 

With two outs and a runner on first, a single from Dalton Gray (South Jordan, Utah) allowed Miklovic to scoot around the bases to third.  A walk to Obregon, Jr. loaded the bases and then back-to-back walks to Gomez and Miller brought home two U.S. runners.  Brown picked up two more RBI with another single up the middle to make it a 9-6 ballgame, but a strikeout ended the rally with the U.S. coming up just a few runs shy of the win.

Offensively, Brown shined at the plate in a 2-for-3 outing with three RBI while Obregon, Jr. reached in every at-bat with a pair of singles and a walk.  Three U.S. pitchers saw time in the circle with C. Lewis suffering the loss after issuing four walks and six earned runs.  Alejandro Ibarra (Cedar Hill, Texas) did not allow a run in his two and two-third innings in the circle, fanning three batters while walking three.  J. Lewis closed out the game with two earned runs and three walks in two innings.

Team USA will take some time off before reuniting in Houston, Texas for training camp and competition June 12-17.  To follow along with the USA Softball National Team Program, please visit USASoftball.com.

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