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Wilkins, USA Slam Past Guatemala 18-1 in Series Finale

SonnyGrayVandy(DURHAM, N.C.) – Andy Wilkins (Arkansas) hit a 435 foot grand slam that left the ball park and Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt) kept Guatemala hitters off-balance to lead the USA Baseball National Team (Collegiate) to an 18-1 series finale victory at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park Saturday, July 4.

Rick Hague (Rice) started things off for Team USA in the bottom of the first inning when he laced a single to left to kick start the U.S. offense. After stealing second base, Hague moved to third base on a routine ground out by Colon and scored the first run of the game when Wilkins placed a single down the right field line for an RBI.

With runners on second and third with two outs, Casey McGrew (Wright State) sent a single through the left side of the infield for a two-RBI single to put the U.S. ahead 3-0 on starting pitcher, and member of the San Diego Padres organization, Marlon Claveria, after one inning.

Team USA picked up where it left off in the bottom of the second inning. Blake Forsythe (Tennessee) started things off with a walk and Brad Miller (Clemson) lined a single to center on a hit-and-run to put runners on the corners for the top of the order and no outs. Christian Colon (Cal State Fullerton) tallied his team-leading 21st RBI as he reached on a fielders choice with the bases loaded for a 4-0 lead. Wilkins finished the scoring for Team USA in the inning when his routine ground out brought in Forsythe.

Starting pitcher Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt) was solid on the mound for Team USA in his first three innings pitched. The right handed hurler only surrendered one hit through three.

Colon send two more runs across the plate with a single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning and Bryce Brentz (Middle Tennessee State) sent a ball deep into the left centerfield alley for a two-RBI triple. McGrew plated another run in the fourth with a sac fly to left for the 10-0 lead through four.

Andy Wilkins brought the 9,534-person crowd to its feet in the fifth inning when he slammed a 435 foot grand slam home run to right field that cleared the park to put USA up 14-0.

Guatemala scored its first run of the game, and the first run scored since Wednesday, after Brentz surrendered a balk against his first batter in relief of starter Gray. But Forsythe responded quickly for the U.S. as he sent his second home run of the summer over the Blue Monster in left centerfield and Team USA led 15-1 through six.

Team Guatemala threatened Brentz in the top of the eighth inning when back-to-back hits to left center and to right put runners on the corners, but Brentz got out of the jam when his fourth strikeout against pinch-hitter Boris Bucaro ended the inning.

USA finished its scoring in the bottom of the eighth inning after Hague tallied an RBI walk and Christian Colon knocked in a two-RBI single up the middle for the final tally of 18-1.

Sonny Gray (1-0) received the ninth victory for Team USA on the summer. In five and two thirds inning, Gray gave up one run and struck out eight batters. Starting pitcher and Dominican League player Claveria suffered the loss after he gave up five runs in two innings pitched.

Brentz closed the game out for Team USA. He pitched two and one-third innings and struck out four batters.

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the farewell speech of Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, every Team USA player and coach wore commemorative number four jerseys. Also in honor of Gehrig, Tim LoFollette, a patient of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), read the famous Lou Gehrig speech during the seventh inning stretch.

MLB has kicked off a new charitable campaign called 4♦ALS Awareness, working with four leading organizations — all of which have the same goal: to find a cure for ALS, a disease that destroys nerve cells controlling muscles, ultimately causing complete paralysis. There is currently no cure, and those afflicted have a life expectancy of three to five years from diagnosis.

The USA Baseball National Team (Collegiate) will travel to Manchester, N.H., Sunday to continue its 2009 summer season against the NECBL All-Stars at 2:45 PM in Stadium. Cody Wheeler (Coastal Carolina) is expected to take the mound for Team USA.

Batting practice will take place at 12:15 PM.

Game notes:

– Attendance was counted at 9,534.

– With the win, the USA Baseball National Team (Collegiate) has won 33 consecutive games dating back to last summer.

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