FROM USA BASEBALL
(TOKYO) – Japan took advantage of back-to-back errors in the bottom of the 11th inning to clinch the 37th Annual USA vs. Japan Collegiate Championships with an 8-7 victory at Jingu Stadium.
With the game tied at seven, pitcher Sonny Gray’s (Vanderbilt) errant pickoff attempt moved Shota Kioke to third base with two outs. Christian Colon (Cal State Fullerton) then misplayed a ground ball at shortstop that scored Kioke from third base to seal the game and best-of-five series.
With the game tied at four heading into the ninth inning, Team USA scored three runs to take the lead. Blake Forsythe (Tennessee) and Andy Wilkins (Arkansas) hit back-to-back singles and Hague laid down a sacrifice bunt that pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano misplayed to bring in pinch runner Kolten Wong (Hawaii) for a 5-4 lead. Brad Miller (Clemson) added some insurance with an RBI single to right field and Tyler Holt (Florida State) hit a sacrifice fly to center for the third and final run of the inning.
But Japan answered right back with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Masayoshi Kato hit a two-run triple to deep left center off reliver Chad Bettis (Texas Tech) to get Japan within one and forced the U.S. into a pitching change. Keiji Nakahara then sent the first pitch he saw from Gray to right centerfield to tie the game.
U.S. starter Gerrit Cole (UCLA) pitched 4.2 innings, giving up four runs and striking out five. Nick Pepitone (Tulane) pitched three innings of scoreless relief with a strikeout, and Bettis pitched one inning, allowing three runs.
Gray (2-1) surrendered one unearned run and struck out three batters in the loss. Yusuke Nomura (1-0) got the win for Japan.
Rick Hague (Rice) went 2-4 with a solo home run to left field in the fourth inning and Holt was 2-5 with two RBI and two runs scored to lead U.S. hitters.
Team USA leads the all-time USA vs. Japan Collegiate Championships series 21-16 and has an all-time record against Japan of 117-93-1. USA owns a 45-67 all-time series record in Japan.
The 2009 USA Baseball National Team (Collegiate) will travel to Prince George, British Columbia, Canada to compete in the Enbridge Northern Gateway World Baseball Challenge July 16-26. Team USA will face off against Canada, Sunday, July 19, at 7:00 PM (10:00 PM ET).