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Team USA rolls to 9-3 victory

(BRNO, Czech Republic) – Team USA overcame an early deficit and scored multiple runs in three different innings en route to a 9-3 victory over Japan in Wednesday’s pool-play game at the FISU World Championships at Mestsky Stadium. Team USA improved to 5-0 in FISU pool play and 21-0 on the summer with the victory, with which the U.S. squad clinched the top seed in this weekend’s tournament portion of the FISU World Championships.

Japan scored a run on Keijiro Matsumoto’s RBI double in the bottom of the first inning, but the lead was short-lived as Team USA rallied for a four-run second. Ryan Jackson (Miami-FL; Miami Springs, Fla.) tied the game with an RBI single, and a Mike Leake (Arizona State; Fallbrook, Calif.) bases-loaded walk gave Team USA a lead it would never relinquish. Blake Smith (California; Modesto, Calif.) capped the inning with a two-run single up the middle.

Single runs in the second and third innings allowed Japan to pull within one run at 4-3. However, Team USA scored three runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batsman in the top of the fifth, and Japan never seriously threatened again. Jared Clark (Cal State Fullerton; Castaic, Calif.) plated the first run with a bases-loaded walk, and Josh Fellhauer (Cal State Fullerton; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) followed with a two-run single.

Team USA used a pair of walks, a Japan error and one hit to score two more runs in the seventh. Colon had the inning’s only RBI on a single up the middle.

U.S. starter Chris Hernandez (Miami-FL; Miami, Fla.) earned the victory; he allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over 6.1 innings. Kyle Gibson (Missouri; Greenfield, Ind.) recorded three strikeouts against one hit over 1.2 scoreless innings; Gibson used 20 pitches, 19 of which were strikes. Kendal Volz (Baylor; Bulverde, Texas) worked a perfect ninth with one strikeout in a non-save situation.

Japan starter Hisashi Takeuchi took the loss after allowing four runs on three hits and three walks with two strikeouts over 2.0 innings; he also hit one batter.

Smith went 2-for-2, walked twice and scored twice for Team USA. Fellhauer was 2-for-5, and Clark walked twice.

Team USA concludes FISU pool play Thursday, facing Chinese-Taipei. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 a.m. EDT at Mestsky Stadium. This will be the ninth meeting between Team USA and Chinese-Taipei; the U.S. squad swept a six-game series in the USA last month and won both meetings at Haarlem Baseball Week earlier this month.

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