USA Softball Women’s National Team drops 6-3 decision to Japan in Game 2 of USA vs Japan All-Star Series

By Katie Willis (kwillis@usasoftball.com) | June 21, 2018, 11:55 a.m. (ET)

Sendai, Japan — Despite Game 2 of the USA vs Japan All-Star Series being tied at one through four innings of play, Japan capitalized on a four-run fifth inning to seal their victory and the U.S. fate, USA Softball announced. Although the game didn't end in favor of the U.S., Courtney Gano (West Covina, Calif.) and Mo Mercado (Temecula, Calif.) each went yard in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, to try and garner some momentum for the Red, White and Blue during the contest. With Japan up in the series, 2-0, first pitch of the final showdown between the two top-ranked teams in the world per the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) is set for 1 p.m. JST (11 p.m. CT) Saturday, June 25 at Fukushima Azuma Stadium.

 

Click here for live stats, box scores and more from the USA vs Japan All-Star Series

 

“I felt like we put some good at-bats together,” said Head Coach Laura Berg (Corvallis, Ore.). “(Mo) Mercado and (Courtney) Gano’s home runs were huge for us. We showed some fight in the last inning with getting the tying run to the plate. Delanie (Gourley) threw well and kept them (Japan) off balance for most of the game.”

 

Japan took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning after Misato Kawano was hit by pitch, made it to third after a walk and wild pitch, before being brought home on a RBI single from Natsuko Sugama. With two outs and one runner left on base, U.S. starter Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.) went to work and collected her first strikeout of the game against Japan's Manami Daikuya to end the inning. A two-out single from Kelly Kretschman (Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.) in the bottom half of the frame put a runner on for the U.S. but a dropped third strike led to Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) being called out at first.

 

A pair of groundouts by the U.S. defense led off the second inning and although a single and walk to follow put two baserunners on for Japan, shortstop Mo Mercado (Temecula, Calif.) caught Kawano’s fly out to bring the Red, White and Blue offense back to the plate. Amanda Lorenz (Moorpark, Calif.) was issued a walk to begin the bottom half of the inning but Japan’s Yukiko Hamamura shut down any chances of the U.S. scoring with a pair of strikeouts and groundout.

 

In the third inning, Gourley and the defense retired the side for the third time this series to keep the score at 1-0. Mercado looked to shift momentum to the U.S. side with a leadoff single to centerfield but was halted at second after Nikki Udria (Covina, Calif.) grounded into a fielder’s choice one out later. A walk issued to Kretschman would then put two baserunners for the U.S. squad before Chidester hit a stand-up double to plate Udria and tie the ballgame at one apiece.

 

It was a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth as Japan was once again retired off a pair of groundouts before Gourley dealt her second strikeout of the game. 

 

With the score tied at one, it was Japan who jumped ahead to take the lead in the top of the fifth inning. Initiated by a one-out single from Eri Yamada, Kawano stepped up next and doubled before both were brought home off a single to right field from Saki Yamazaki. Trailing 3-1, the U.S. would bring in Carley Hoover (Clemson, S.C.) to pitch but a single from Yamamoto resulted in Japan’s fourth run crossing the plate. A hit by pitch to Minori Naito put two runners aboard and signaled another pitching change for the U.S., bringing in Ally Carda (Elk Grove, Calif.). Another single loaded the bases for Japan and a wild pitch would plate a run for Japan to make it 5-1 before a groundout concluded the inning. Leading off the bottom of the fifth frame, Flippen reached first on a walk but would be stranded after a fielder’s choice caught her advancing to second and a strikeout and fly out ensued to finish the inning.

 

Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) entered the circle for the U.S. to start the sixth but after a pair of singles put baserunners aboard, Japan’s Kawano would advance to third before she was called safe at home on a close play at the plate from a passed ball. With Japan leading 6-1, Gano connected on a 3-2 pitch for Team USA’s first home run of the series to make it 6-2.

 

With one inning left to play, the U.S. defense retired the Japanese side for the third time and kept fighting to stay in the game. Mercado led off with her first solo shot of the season to make it 6-3 and despite Flippen and Kretschman both reaching on a walk and single, respectively, Chidester and Lorenz would be issued back-to-back strikeouts to end the game. Gourley suffered the loss for the U.S., issuing two strikeouts and surrendering four runs on five hits in four and one-third innings of work. 

 

The U.S. and Japan return to action for the final matchup to close out the series on Saturday, June 25 at Fukushima Azuma Stadium, which was added as an official venue for baseball and softball events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Live stats can be found online 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