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Team USA cruises to 30-1 victory over Lithuania

(OSTRAVA, Czech Republic) – Micah Gibbs (LSU; Pflugerville, Texas), Hunter Morris (Auburn; Huntsville, Ala.) and Scott Woodward (Coastal Carolina; Markle, Ind.) hit two home runs each as the USA Baseball National Team defeated the Lithuania National Team 30-1 in seven innings Sunday in pool-play action of the FISU World Championships at Ostrava Field. Team USA improved to 3-0 in FISU pool play and 19-0 on its 2008 tour with the victory.

Team USA hit 12 home runs in the game, establishing a USA Baseball National Team record. The previous mark of seven was set against Italy (1996) and Japan (1996). Five of the eight homers came in a 10-run third inning.

The U.S. squad also established single-game National Team records for runs and RBI (29). Team USA had 28 runs and 26 RBI against Spain in 1988. The U.S. squad batted around in four of the seven innings and sent 14 batters to the plate in the third.

Gibbs, Morris and Woodward all tied the National Team record for home runs in a game. They provided Team USA’s first two-run homer games since Matt LaPorta accomplished the feat in 2005.

Jared Clark (Cal State Fullerton; Castaic, Calif.), Christian Colon (Cal State Fullerton; Corona, Calif.), Matt den Dekker (Florida; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Mike Leake (Arizona State; Fallbrook, Calif.), Ryan Lipkin (San Francisco; Vacaville, Calif.) and Blake Smith (California; Modesto, Calif.) also had round-trippers for Team USA. The U.S. squad had 19 hits, 14 of which went for extra bases.

Meanwhile, Team USA pitching over-matched the Lithuania batters. Starter Brett Hunter allowed only an infield single with nine strikeouts over 5.0 shutout innings. He walked one and issued one wild pitch, which came on a third strike. Hunter faced two batters over the minimum and allowed only one ball out of the infield – a fly ball to left to lead off the first inning.

Tyler Lyons (Oklahoma State; Lubbock, Texas) allowed one unearned run on one hit with three strikeouts over the final two frames. Team USA lost the shutout in the seventh when Edgara Matusevicius led off with a single to right and reached third when the ball got by Team USA’s make-shift right-fielder, typical third baseman Tommy Mendonca. Matusevicius later scored on Vytautas Kirlys’ RBI groundout.

Team USA scored one run in the first inning on one hit, two walks and a hit batsman, leaving the bases loaded. Morris led off the second with a home run to right. After Gibbs walked, Colon ripped an RBI double off the right-center fence. Clark pushed Team USA’s lead to 6-0 with a three-run homer later in the inning. It was never much of a game after that.

The 10-run third inning put the game well out of reach. Team USA added a three-run fourth, a six-run sixth and a five-run seventh, failing to score only in the fifth inning.

Six players had multiple-hit games for Team USA. Leake was 1-for-4 but walked three times, and Josh Fellhauer (Cal State Fullerton; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) left the game after going 1-for-2 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch and three runs scored. Gibbs and den Dekker both had three-hit games.

Smith and Gibbs had five RBI each, while Leake and Woodward had four RBI each. Gibbs scored five runs, tying the National Team record shared by Robin Ventura (1988) and Russ Johnson (1994). Morris scored four times.

Monday is a travel day for Team USA, which will move its headquarters to Brno, Czech Republic. The National Team returns to action Tuesday, facing Canada at 11 a.m. EDT.

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