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USA Baseball edges Netherlands 1-0

HAARLEM – Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State) and Dan Child (Oregon State) combined to throw the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team’s second straight shutout as it held on to defeat the Netherlands, 1-0, in front of a sold-out crowd on Thursday at Pim Mulier Stadium.

The U.S. pitching staff, which shutout Chinese Taipei on Wednesday, has not allowed a run over its last 20.1 innings of work and has a combined 1.02 ERA in the tournament as the squad enters the medal rounds at Honkbal Week. It will have Friday off before playing the winner of tomorrow’s Cuba-Netherlands matchup on Saturday.

“Carlos Rodon was excellent today,” Team USA manager Dave Serrano said. “It was his best outing of the summer for us, but probably the most exciting thing for me was Dan Child. He came in and gave us a real spark tonight. I’ve been very happy with the way our pitching staff has come together during this tournament.

“This was a good win, but I’m a realist and I know that we are going to have to score more runs to win this thing. Our guys are going to have to get out of their own way and just be aggressive. They are good hitters, that’s why they are here. Hopefully, we can get turned around offensively when the new phase of this tournament starts on Saturday.”

Making his final start of the summer tour, Rodon posted a stellar outing, striking out nine in seven shutout frames. He allowed seven hits, three of which were bunt singles, and walked two.

Child then came out of the bullpen to hurl two perfect innings, striking out the first four batters he faced en route to closing out the game and earning the save.

Offensively, the U.S. managed just three hits all night but didn’t have to lift the bat off its shoulder even once to score the game’s only run in the top of the fifth.

After a lineout to deep left to start the stanza, Austin Cousino (Kentucky) and Kyle Farmer (Georgia) were both hit by pitches and a four-pitch walk to Brett Hambright (Oregon) loaded the bases. Michael Lorenzen (Cal State Fullerton) then became the third hit batter of the frame to drive in the game’s first run and put Team USA up 1-0.

Just two innings earlier, the U.S. had dodged an early bullet to keep the game scoreless as it worked out of a bases-loaded, no outs jam in the bottom of the third. The Netherlands used a little small ball to crowd the basepaths, laying down three straight bunt singles load the bases and put the U.S. in a tight spot.

It got a bit of a break, however, as Dwayne Kemp hit a pitch right on the nose, but D.J. Peterson (New Mexico) was able to make a lunging grab and double up the runner at first to put two outs on the board. Rodon then blew a high fastball past Bas de Jong to end the inning with the bases still juiced.

From that point on, Rodon and Child allowed just three runners to reach second, all with two outs, and none to third. After the third inning scare, the two pitchers would proceed to strike out 10 batters over the next six innings as well.

The U.S. had a pair of scoring opportunities slip through its fingers late in the game as it got leadoff singles from Kris Bryant (San Diego) and Trea Turner (North Carolina State) in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, but couldn’t cash in despite sac bunts in both frames that moved the runners into scoring position with just one out.

Netherlands relief pitchers were able to follow both sacrifices with a strikeout and a pop-up to leave both runners stranded in scoring position.

Fortunately it made little difference as Child struck out the side on 12 pitches in the eighth and retired the side in order in the ninth. In the game’s final frame, he struck out the first batter, but the next two both hit balls sharply to second where defensive replacement Adam Frazier came through with two solid plays to end the game.

With the pool play portion of Honkbal Week complete, Team USA will have Friday off before playing the winner of tomorrow’s Cuba-Netherlands showdown at either 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. Saturday.

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