Tokyo, Japan – Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt) struck out a career-best 14 batters setting a new USA FISU single-game record as the Collegiate National Team (CNT) used the 15-run rule after five innings to record its first win at the V FISU World University Championships Friday afternoon over Sri Lanka, 15-0 at Utsumi Shimaoka Ball Park.
Gray was unhittable through 3 1/3 inning retiring 10 in a row, nine by strikeout, before Theekshana Gammanpila singled down the right field line on a ball that hit first base and popped over the head of Nick Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton). In all the right-hander allowed just two runners to reach base, one was on a wild pitch strikeout) and faced two over the minimum through five innings (17 hitters) notching his second win of the summer tour. With his 14-strikeout performance, Gray also tied a CNT single-game record for punch outs joining Jason Jennings (7/1/98) and B.J. Wallace (7/20/02) in the record books.
Offensively, Team USA pounded out 12 hits and plated multiple runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, which was finished off by back-to-back solo home runs by George Springer (Connecticut) and Nick Ramirez.
USA (12-2) manufactured a run in the first stanza on a sac fly by Jackie Bradley, Jr. (South Carolina) putting CNT up 1-0. Drew Maggi (Arizona State) doubled to right center then moved to third on Nolan Fontana’s (Florida) ground out to first before touching home on Bradley, Jr.’s long fly to center.
Neranjan Mudiyanselage (0-1) held Team USA scoreless in the second, but couldn’t overcome a six-hit, seven-run third that put USA up 8-0. Consecutive singles by Mikie Mahtook (LSU), Maggi and Fontana produced the first run before Ryan Wright (Louisville) and Springer drove in runs on one-out base hits. Mahtook completed the frame with a bases loaded triple, his second hit of the inning, scoring Springer, Nick Ramirez and Jason Esposito (Vanderbilt).
Mudiyanselage went 3 1/3 innings allowing 11 runs (nine earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts. Rajitha Dulige and Prasad Arachchilage both gave up two runs on two hits in two-third’s of an inning.
Team USA’s five-run fourth was highlighted by Esposito’s three-run double to left center. Bradley, Jr. reached on an error then scored on Wright’s double to left center. Springer drew a one-out walk and Nick Ramirez was plunked in the back loading the bases for Esposito’s two-bagger, where he advanced to third on an errant throw by the center fielder. Peter O’Brien (Bethune-Cookman) plated Esposito on a sac fly to right capping the inning.
The Collegiate National Team will be back on the diamond Sunday, Aug. 1 when the take on Chinese Taipei inside Meiji Jingu Stadium at 5 a.m. (EST).
Notes: Team USA will conduct a 2-3 hour practice on Saturday, July 31 … In other play in USA’s bracket, Canada topped Chinese Taipei 3-2 … Mikie Mahtook led all USA hitters with three hits and three RBI … Jason Esposito extended his current hit streak to six games with his double in the fourth … Team USA’s pitching staff lowered its ERA to 1.08 on the summer … Sonny Gray now has 31 strikeouts in 17.0 innings this summer.