Jonathan Lynch walk off-home run earns Team USA first win at Intercontinental Cup

By Codi Warren (cwarren@usasoftball.com) | Aug. 29, 2018, 9:23 a.m. (ET)

Team USA celebrates after Jonathan Lynch's last-inning heroics. 

Prague, Czech Republic — Trailing by one run and down to their final at-bat, Team USA picked up their first win at the Intercontinental Cup in dramatic fashion, downing Argentina 5-4.  With one out and a runner on base, Jonathan Lynch (Cape Girardeau, Mo.) delivered a two run blast that earned Team USA the walk-off win.

“Joel Cooley came out today and pitched a great game,” said Head Coach Gregg Leather (Staten Island, N.Y.).  “We had one bad inning with a couple missed balls in the sun that led to a couple of runs but we didn’t panic.  Our bats were much better today against some really tough pitching.  Argentina’s pitching is so deep and we just had a grind in the box and made them throw a lot of pitches early in the game.  Tyler Dudley’s home run really got us back in the game.  We knew that if we could keep them within a run that we would have a good chance.  Matt Ratliff coming off the bench and getting a leadoff single and then Jonathan Lynch driving him home - it was a great job all around and a total team effort.”

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Argentina quickly jumped out to a one run lead in their first at-bat and held the U.S. offense with three strikeouts in the bottom half of the inning.  Joel Cooley (St. Paul, Minn.) and Team USA’s defense halted a scoring attempt in the top of the second inning after back-to-back singles with two outs by Argentina.  A strikeout from Cooley and a grounder to Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) kept the U.S. within one run.

The Red, White and Blue tied the game in the bottom of the second inning as the bats came alive.  Pat Sagdal (Richland, Wash.) started the rally with a one out single and moved to second after Kevin Castillo (Long Beach, Calif.) walked.  A fly ball to right field held both runners at their respective bags before Nick Mullins (Toms River, N.J.) punched a ball through the left side of the infield to give Sagdal time to score from second. 

A shaky third inning for Team USA on defense resulted in three Argentina runs.  A solo home run put Argentina up by one and a walk and single put two on with no outs.  A bobbled fly ball to centerfield added another run to Argentina’s lead and put runners on the corners to continue the threat.  After a popup to Palazzo at first recorded the first out, another run scored after the runner at first attempted to steal second and was called out after a run down between first and second. 

Trailing by three, Team USA continued to show their grit and responded with two runs of their own to bring the game back within one run.  A one out walk to Palazzo got the momentum rolling for Tyler Dudley (Battle Creek, Mich.), who squared up on a pitch to drive the ball over the left field fence to record two RBI. 

The score held at a 4-3, U.S. disadvantage through the top of the sixth when Argentina threatened to tack on a few more to their lead.  An error on a pop fly put the leadoff batter on second base before a sac bunt put him on third.  A ground out to Palazzo held the runner at bay and then a walk from Cooley resulted in runners on the corners and a pitching change as Tony Mancha (Las Cruces, N.M.) entered the circle.  Mancha issued a walk to his first batter faced, but Team USA got out of the jam unscathed with a ground ball to Cameron Schiller (Prescott, Ariz.) at shortstop.

With the U.S. kept off the board in the bottom of the sixth and a three up, three down outing by Mancha in the circle in the top of the seventh, Team USA came up to their final at-bat needing at least one run to keep the game going.  Enter Matt Ratliff (American Fork, Utah) as a pinch hitter, who beat out a ground ball to shortstop for a leadoff single.  A sac bunt by Mullins moved him to second base to bring the leadoff batter, Lynch, to the batters box with a new Argentina pitcher.  On an 0-1 pitch, Lynch drove the ball over the left field fence just over the extended glove of the left fielder for the walk-off win. 

Both Lynch and Dudley picked up two RBI in the contest while Dudley finished 2-for-3.  Mancha picked up the win after tossing the last one and one-third innings in the circle.  Cooley picked up two strikeouts in five and two-third innings of work, limiting Argentina to just three earned runs.

Team USA returns to the field tomorrow for a 7:30 p.m. CEST (12:30 p.m. CT) match against No. 7 Czech Republic.  All games will be live streamed for free while free live stats are also available for fans to follow along with the action at USASoftball.com. 

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