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USA picks up another Win over Chinese Taipei

(DURHAM, N.C.) – Five consecutive hits produced a four-run fourth inning that propelled the USA Baseball National Team to a 7-3 victory over the Chinese-Taipei National Team in the fifth game of a six-game series Sunday evening at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The game was called after the completion of the top of the eighth inning due to inclement weather. Team USA has won each of the first five games of the series.

Team USA built a 2-0 lead with a run on two hits in the first and third innings. Kentrail Davis (Tennessee; Theodore, Ala.) produced both runs with an RBI single in the first and an RBI double in the third. Taipei got its first two hits of the game in the top of the fourth as Lin Kuo-Min doubled and Huang Chih-Pei followed with an RBI single.

That was as close as Taipei would get, though, as the Americans sent seven batters to the plate in the fourth. Christian Colon (Cal State Fullerton; Corona, Calif.) and Tommy Mendonca (Fresno State; Turlock, Calif.) opened the inning with consecutive singles, and Blake Smith (California; Modesto, Calif.) followed with an RBI double off the wall in left-center. Derek Dietrich (Georgia Tech; Parma, Ohio) then plated two with a triple off the left-field wall. Matt den Dekker (Florida; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) capped the inning with an RBI single.

The U.S squad pushed its lead to 7-1 in the seventh when Smith tripled with one out and scored on Dietrich’s groundout.

Taipei scratched the board for two runs on two hits, a walk and a U.S. error in the top of the eighth. Chan Chih-Yao singled with two outs and Tsai Ming-Chueh followed with a walk. Yang Hsien-Hsien’s single to right-center plated Chih-Yao, and Ming-Cheuh scored when Lin Ken-Wei reached by way of an error.

U.S. starter Chris Hernandez (Miami-FL; Miami, Fla.) allowed one run on two hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts over 7.0 innings. He came one strikeout shy of tying Kirk Saarloos (2000) for the most by an American pitcher against Chinese-Taipei. A.J. Griffin (San Diego; El Cajon, Calif.) was touched for the two runs in the eighth, one of which was unearned; he walked one and had two strikeouts.

Taipei starter Cheng Wei-Jen was saddled with the loss after allowing one run on four hits and no walks with two strikeouts over 2.0 innings. Reliever Lai Po-Kai allowed the bulk of the damage, surrendering five runs on four hits in 1.0-plus innings.

Smith finished the game 3-for-3 with two runs scored, while Dietrich had three RBI. Colon and Davis both produced two-hit games with the latter driving in two.

Team USA and Chinese-Taipei conclude their six-game series Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EDT at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, N.C. Team USA has not yet announced a starting pitcher for Monday’s game.

NOTE: USA Baseball announced Sunday that right-handed pitcher Brett Hunter (Pepperdine; Moorpark, Calif.) has been named as the final member of the 2008 National Team, finalizing the 22-man roster. Hunter was a member of the 2007 National Team. He posted a 3-0 record with a 0.66 ERA in 14 relief appearances last summer, logging 31 strikeouts in 27.1 innings. Hunter was 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in five outings, four starts, this spring for Pepperdine.

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