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Team USA slides by Chinese Taipei 4-3 in 12 innings

(GREENVILLE, S.C.) – Ryan Jackson (Miami-FL; Miami Springs, Fla.) scampered home on a passed ball with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the USA Baseball National Team a 4-3 victory over the Chinese-Taipei National Team in the first game of a six-game series Wednesday night at Fluor Field. It was the first game for the U.S. squad since reducing to a 20-man roster for international play.

Jackson led off the inning with a single up the middle and moved to second on a Matt den Dekker (Florida; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) sacrifice bunt. Josh Fellhauer (Cal State Fullerton; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) followed with a single through the right side, but a strong throw home from Chinese-Taipei right fielder Chan Chih-Yao forced Jackson to hold at third and allowed Fellhauer to reach second.

Two pitches later, Chinese-Taipei catcher Wang Chun-Chieh could not stop a low fastball from skirting through his legs and to the backstop, allowing Jackson to score with the winning run.

That made a winner of reliever Blake Smith (California; Modesto, Calif.), who held Chinese-Taipei scoreless over 4.0 innings. Smith surrendered only one hit and no walks with five strikeouts.

Chinese-Taipei reliever Lo Chia-Jen suffered the tough-luck loss, allowing the one unearned run in the 12th inning.

The U.S. squad took the game’s first lead in the fourth inning. Smith walked and Derek Dietrich (Georgia Tech; Parma, Ohio) followed with a double to put runners at second and third with no outs. Hunter Morris (Auburn; Huntsville, Ala.) scored Smith with a sacrifice fly, and Jackson followed with an RBI groundout.

That lead stood until the top of the sixth when Chinese-Taipei scored three unearned runs on two infield hits, a walk and two U.S. errors. All three runs scored on one play. With the bases loaded and two outs, Lin Ken-Wei reached on a single off Hunter’s glove at first base, scoring two runs as an aggressive Lin Kuo-Min scored from second on the play. Colon’s throw home in attempt to get Kuo-Min skipped into the third-base dugout, allowing a third run to score.

The Americans tied the game in the bottom of the seventh, and Jackson was the catalyst for that run, as well, drawing a leadoff walk. He moved to second on den Decker’s sacrifice bunt and to third on a Fellhauer infield single. Colon followed with a sacrifice fly.

U.S. starter Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State; San Diego, Calif.) allowed three runs, all unearned, on four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over 6.0 innings. Mike Leach (Arizona State; Fallbrook, Calif.) and A.J. Griffin (San Diego; El Cajon, Calif.) each worked one scoreless inning in relief.

Chinese-Taipei starter Tsung-Hsuan allowed two runs on two hits and two walks with no strikeouts over 4.0 innings. Wen-Yang surrendered the tying run in the seventh; he scattered two hits and walked two with three strikeouts over 4.0 innings.

Dietrich and Fellhauer both had two-hit nights for the Americans, while Jackson scored twice.

The USA Baseball National Team and the Chinese-Taipei National Team continue their six-game series Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EDT at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium in Kannapolis, N.C. Right-hander Mike Minor (Vanderbilt; Chapel Hill, Tenn.) is scheduled to start on the mound for the U.S. squad.

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