Team USA and the Japanese team were rained out on July 4th, so they began Tuesday with the makeup game at Team USAâ€™s training complex. They battled through a pitcherâ€™s duel early on until Japan broke through to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 6th on Yoshihiro Ikedaâ€™s RBI triple.
That lead was short-lived as Team USA finally broke through in a BIG way. Dominic Ficociello (Arkansas) doubled to lead off the inning and Chris Elder (Oral Roberts) followed with an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1. Matt Reynolds (Arkansas) followed with a single, putting runners at the corners. With Erich Weiss (Texas) at the plate pinch-hitting for Tom Murphy (Buffalo), Reynolds took off for second base and as the catcherâ€™s throw went down to second base, Elder stole home, completing the double steal and giving the USA a 2-1 lead. Weiss then delivered an RBI single.
Then things fell apart for Japan. Michael Lorenzen (CSF) reached on a throwing error by the Japanese pitcher on a sac bunt. Nolan Fontana (Florida) reached on a fielderâ€™s choice, in which Weiss scored on the Japanese second basemanâ€™s throwing error. With one out, Deven Marrero (ASU) singled in a run, Tyler Naquin (Texas A&M) doubled Marrero in, and Josh Elander (TCU) singled in Naquin to give Team USA a 7-1 lead. Yes the USA scored SEVEN runs after not being able to do anything against Japanâ€™s Takahiro Fujioka for six innings.
Kevin Gausman (LSU) got the start for Team USA and allowed one run on just three hits over 5.2 innings. He also struck out seven. Brian Johnson (Florida) followed and allowed one run on four hits over 2.1 innings to earn the win. Andrew Mitchell (TCU) closed out the game for Team USA with a scoreless 9th inning.
Following the first game, the two teams headed to Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the regularly scheduled night game. Michael Wacha of Texas A&M got the start for Team USA.
Team USA took a quick 1-0 lead on Elanderâ€™s RBI triple. The score would stay that way until the top of the 7th inning. Japan got to Wacha as he left losing 2-1. Hoby Milner (Texas) allowed a sac fly before escaping further damage. At that point, Japan led 3-1. Wacha allowed three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six.
Team USAâ€™s offense woke up in the bottom of the 7th inning. Johnson homered to lead off the inning. Lorenzen reached on a bunt single and went to second base on Fontanaâ€™s ground out. After Marrero struck out for the second out, Naquin doubled in Lorenzen to tie the game at 3-3. After a walk, Ficociello singled in Naquin to give the USA a 4-3 lead.
Dukeâ€™s Marcus Stroman pitched a scoreless 9th inning to pick up his fourth save of the summer. He struck out two in the inning.
Elander and Ficociello extended their summer hitting streaks to nine games, while Naquin extended his to eight games. Team USA and Japan continue their series on Wednesday night in Kannapolis, NC for their next to last game. The final game of the series will be played at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, home of the College World Series, on Friday.
*Five Team USA players were selected to Baseball Americaâ€™s Freshman All-America Team. The first-teamers include Lorenzen and Texasâ€™ Corey Knebel. The second-teamers include Weiss, Ficociello, and Mitchell.