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18U National Team strikes early in Win at International Super Series


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OKOTOKS, Alberta – Nolan Fontana (INF; Winter Garden, Fla.) scored twice and collected three hits, including a two-out double to trigger a decisive three-run fifth inning, as the USA Baseball 18U National Team clipped the Okotoks Dawgs 5-2 tonight in exhibition action in the second day of the International Super Series at Seaman Stadium. Besides the USA and the Dawgs, a college summer league squad, the national teams from Chinese Taipei and Canada comprise the field for the series.

Now sporting a 4-0 exhibition record, the Americans will conclude play in the Super Series with a doubleheader July 23. Team USA will meet Canada at 2 p.m. (EDT) followed by a 5 p.m. contest against Chinese Taipei. The USA blanked Chinese Taipei 6-0 on July 21 in the opening day of the three-day international event.

Fontana, Team USA’s leadoff hitter, notched base hits in each of his first three at bats. He led off the game with a double to left field and scored two batters later on an RBI single by Harold Martinez (INF; Miami, Fla.).

“Nolan did a great job for us tonight,” Team USA Head Coach Mark Elkins said. “He did what a leadoff hitter needs to do by getting on base. His play really set the stage for the rest of our lineup.”

A solo home run by Austin Maddox (C; Jacksonville, Fla.) to left field to open the second inning padded the USA’s lead to two runs. After the Dawgs closed to within 2-1 with a run off Team USA starter Ryan Webber (RHP; St. Petersburg, Fla.) in the fourth inning, it was Fontana who once again ignited the Americans’ offense.

With two out in the fifth inning, the USA shortstop belted his second double and third hit of the game. Fontana then came around to score when a line drive by Nick Franklin (INF; Longwood, Fla.) bounced off the glove of Okotoks shortstop Manny Kumar for an error. Martinez followed with a RBI double to the right field corner to plate Franklin. Jeff Malm (INF; Las Vegas, Nev.) then knocked in Martinez with a run-scoring single for a 5-1 USA advantage. All three of the Americans’ fifth-inning runs were unearned.

“We did a good job in getting a lead but then we sat on it the final four innings,” Elkins said. “We had chances to score runs but didn’t capitalize on those chances. We need to get better at converting on opportunities to score.”

Weber and Jacob Turner (RHP; St. Charles, Mo.) made the USA’s five runs stand up. Weber allowed four hits and a single run over the first four innings while fanning four. Turner went the final five innings and struck out eight. The only two hits he allowed, consecutive doubles to start the Dawgs’ sixth inning, resulted in Okotoks’ final run.

“Ryan and Jacob did a great job of attacking the strike zone and working ahead of hitters,” Elkins said.

Following participation in the International Super Series, the USA will compete in the International BAseball Federations’ “AAA” World Junior Championships July 25-Aug. 3 in Edmonton.

“We need to continue to develop to become a more well-rounded ball club before the start of the Worlds,” Elkins said.

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