Team USA falls 6-1 to host country Czech Republic

By Codi Warren (cwarren@usasoftball.com) | Aug. 30, 2018, 5:42 p.m. (ET)

Prague, Czech Republic — Despite outperforming their opponents at the plate, Team USA could not overcome a three-run, first inning as the team fell 6-1 to Czech Republic at the Intercontinental Cup.  Unable to string together timely hitting, the U.S. now falls to 1-3 at the tournament that serves as preparation for next year’s World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Men’s World Championship.

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Team USA made contact with the ball early on but could not get anything to drop.  Both Jonathan Lynch (Cape Girardeau, Mo.) and Erick Ochoa (Imperial, Calif.) had solid cuts with a pair of fly balls to left field that resulted in the first two outs and a strikeout ended the top of the inning. 

Six Czech batters reached base in the bottom of the inning starting with a leadoff walk.  A bobbled double-play attempt and hit batter loaded the bases with no outs before a double to deep left field plated the first two runs of the game.  Another walk loaded the bases before Mancha fired back-to-back strikeouts.  A single plated another run and looked to score another until a diving Cameron Schiller (Prescott, Ariz.) prevented another run from crossing the plate by keeping the ball in the infield.  With the bases loaded and two outs, Mancha issued the third strikeout of the inning to keep the damage to three runs.

Team USA looked to put some runs on the board in the top of the third inning after a leadoff walk to Kevin Castillo (Long Beach, Calif.), but a ground ball, strikeout and fly ball shutdown the rally attempt.  Another opportunity arose in the top of the fourth inning with a one out single to center by Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa).  Tyler Dudley (Battle Creek, Mich.) followed with an infield single, but back-to-back strikeouts kept Team USA’s run column blank.

The Czech Republic added three more runs to their lead in the bottom of the fourth with the help of a three-run home run.  This prompted a pitching change for the U.S. as Cooley entered the circle, who gave his defense the opportunity to do some work with a pair of groundouts to end the inning.

The sole run of the game for Team USA came in the top of the sixth inning.  Lynch reached on a bunt, advanced to second on a walk to Ochoa and scored on an RBI single up the middle from Palazzo.  The U.S. looked to add more after Dudley reached on an error by the Czech defense to load the bases, but three strikeouts kept the offense from doing any more damage.

Cooley retired the side in order with three K’s to bring the U.S. offense back to the plate for their final at-bat, with the Red, White and Blue trailing by five.  Marcus Tan (Union City, Calif.) entered as a pinch hitter with one out and delivered a line drive single to right field and used his speed to advance to third on a Lynch single through the left side of the infield.  Ochoa’s second walk of the game loaded the bases, but a sharply hit ball back to the pitcher was snagged for a double play to end the game.

Mancha suffered the loss for Team USA, fanning six batters and allowing three runs in his three and one-third innings of work.  Cooley picked up four strikeouts and gave up no hits in the final two and two-third innings in the circle.  Offensively, Lynch and Palazzo had 2-for-4 performances in the batter’s box with Palazzo picking up one RBI.

Team USA will take on No. 3 Japan at 4:30 p.m. CEST (9:30 a.m. CT) tomorrow in their final game in round robin play before the Championship Rounds begins on Saturday, September 1.  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.

About USA Softball

USA Softball is a 501(c)(3) not-for profit organization headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla., and is designated as the National Governing Body (NGB) of Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, USA Softball sanctions competition in every state through a network of 69 local associations and has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 150,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2 million.  USA Softball is dedicated to providing people of all ages the opportunity to play the game they love at a variety of levels by offering recreational, league, tournament and competitive play for fast pitch, slow pitch and modified pitch.  USA Softball annually conducts thousands of tournaments throughout the country including over 100 National Championships.  The USA Softball umpire program is among the nation’s largest and are widely known as the best trained umpires in the game. As the NGB for the sport of softball, USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in events such as the Olympics, Pan American Games, World Championships and other international and domestic events. For more information on USA Softball, including its founding and history as the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), please visit, www.USASoftball.com.