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USA Baseball defeats Florence 9-0

USABASEBALL_thumb.jpgFLORENCE, S.C. – Matt Chapman went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs to help the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team to a 9-0 victory Friday night. Four pitchers combined to throw Team USA’s third shutout of the CPL tour.

“Tonight’s game was almost as complete of a game as we’ve played all summer,” said manager Jim Schlossnagle (TCU). “I thought we had a lot of good at-bats, we had timely hits and outstanding base running. Matt Chapman sat back on a line drive with one out, setting up a two-out hit from Will Maddox. I thought A.J. Reed threw really well. I was really impressed with Chris Diaz.”

A.J. Reed (Kentucky) made his first appearance on the mound for Team USA and pitched five shutout innings. He allowed just one hit, walked one and struck out four. Miami’s Chris Diaz tossed two scoreless frames, giving up one hit, walking one and striking out three. Tommy Thorpe (Oregon) struck out two and gave up a hit in a scoreless eighth inning. Riley Ferrell (TCU) struck out the side around a pair of walks in the ninth.

Just three pitches into his debut, Michael Conforto (Oregon State) drove a 2-0 offering over the fence in right center to give Team USA a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

The first four batters reached in the second for Team USA as it added three runs to its lead. Brad Zimmer (San Francisco) led off the frame with a base hit and was standing on third after a base knock from Kyle Schwarber (Indiana). After a Schwarber stolen base, Chapman lined a double into left field to make it a 3-0 game. With runners on the corners, Red Wolves starter Jacob Long unleashed a wild pitch to allow Chapman to score for a 4-0 lead.

“Being a trial’s player, you don’t want to put any extra pressure on yourself, but you know you have to perform to make the team,” said Cal State Fullerton’s Matt Chapman. “I’ve been working with Coach (Tim) Esmay on turning on the ball a little bit and catching the ball out in front and it worked out for me tonight. I reacted and didn’t try to do too much.”

After a pair of scoreless frames for Team USA, a trio of hits in the fifth inning led to a pair of runs for the CNT. Zimmer opened the inning with his second hit of the night. After a one-out stolen base, he scored easily on a Chapman double. With two outs, Will Maddox (Tennessee) delivered a two-out double to drive in Chapman for a 6-0 lead.

Team USA added two more runs in the sixth inning to push its lead to 8-0. With one on and two out, Zimmer started a string of three straight hits with a bloop into right field. The throw back to the infield sailed into left field, allowing Conforto to score all the way from first. Chapman collected his fourth RBI of the night with a single to left field.

Florence’s best chance to get on the board came in the seventh inning. A lead-off base hit and a walk had two on with nobody. Diaz struck out Logan Domencio for the first out then got the next two batters to strand the runners and keep the shutout intact.

A two-out rally in the eighth inning saw Team USA tack on another run. Zimmer’s fourth hit of the night started the rally. A walk and an error had the bases loaded for Nate Irving (Virginia) who drew a four pitch walk to account for the final run of the game.

Team USA improved to 6-0 on its tour through the Coastal Plains League. The team will head to Thomasville, N.C. for a two-game set against the High Point-Thomasville HiToms. Florida State’s Luke Weaver will make his second start of the summer at 7:05 p.m.

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