FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
Tokyo, Japan – Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt) scattered three hits over seven innings and George Springer (Connecticut) hit a grand slam as USA defeated host team Japan 4-2 in semi-final action at the V FISU World University Baseball Championships inside Yokohama Stadium Thursday night. With the win, USA (16-2) will make its fourth-straight appearance in the FISU gold medal game when they square off against Cuba on Saturday, Aug. 7 at 5 a.m. (EST).
Gray, who improved to 3-0 on the summer, allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out six to push his summer total to 37 punch outs. The right-hander surrendered a run in each of the first two innings before settling down where he allowed just four base runners of the next five innings, two of those reaching second base. Noe Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton) notched his fifth of the season after tossing hitless innings allowing a walk and striking out three.
Yuki Saitoh, who suffered the loss, made one mistake on the night serving up a bases loaded home run to Springer on a first pitch offering in the first stanza. The right-hander was touched for four runs on four hits with four punch outs over six innings of work. From the third to sixth frame he allowed four runners to reach base and fanned four. Japan’s bullpen was stellar as Masahiro Inui tossed a scoreless seventh and Tatsuya Oishi struck out the side in the eighth.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom half of the first, Springer put USA up for good, 4-1, with his second home run of the summer. Nolan Fontana (Florida) drew a one-out walk, Jackie Bradley, Jr. (South Carolina) singled to left and Ryan Wright (Louisville) loaded the bases when he was plunked by a Saitoh pitch setting up Springer’s monster shot to left field that went 10 rows deep.
Shouta Ishimine the game’s first run on a passed ball in the top of the first inning giving Japan an early 1-0. Ishimine walked to start the frame then took second on failed pick off and third on a sac bunt by Kimio Watanabe.
In the second, Japan cut USA’s lead in half, 4-2, when Fumiya Araki plated Kouichiro Matsumoto on a ground ball to third. Matsumoto doubled to start the inning and moved to third on a ground out to short before touching home.
Notes: Jason Esposito had his nine-game hitting streak snapped with a 0-for-3 performance from the plate … Sonny Gray improved to 6-1 during his two-year career with the Collegiate National Team … He has 64 strikeouts to 12 walks in 48.0 innings of work … George Springer took the team lead in RBI (17) on his grand slam and is tied for second with 20 base hits behind Jackie Bradley, Jr.