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USA Baseball defeats High Point-Thomasville 5-2

USABASEBALL.jpgTHOMASVILLE, N.C. – Four unearned runs in the fourth inning proved to be the difference as the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team took a 5-2 victory over High Point-Thomasville Saturday night. Texas’ C.J. Hinojosa drove in three runs to help Team USA remain undefeated.

“We had to work out of the jam there in the fourth inning. Cole Irvin came in and got a big strikeout of their lead-off hitter,” said manager Jim Schlossnagle (TCU). “We also knew we wanted to pitch Irvin, Thorpe and Burr tonight. I thought it was a good win. C.J. Hinojosa played outstanding, both defensively and swung the bat really well. Luke Weaver was good enough. I think Thomasville has a good team. They are definitely the best group of hitters we have faced to this point. They hit a lot of balls hard in the first couple innings. We were fortunate to get through it, but I was real pleased with the way we played.”

Florida State’s Luke Weaver started and allowed a run on three hits in 3 2/3 innings of work. He fanned four and walked three. Oregon’s Cole Irvin (1-0) earned the win in relief, giving up a hit, walking one and striking out four in 3 1/3 innings. Tommy Thorpe (Oregon) gave up a run on a hit in the eighth inning. Ryan Burr (Arizona State) struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth inning to tally his third save of the summer.

Team USA started the scoring early, manufacturing a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Trea Turner (NC State) led the game off with a single to right. After a sacrifice from Skye Bolt (North Carolina), a wild pitch had Turner standing on third with one out. Michael Conforto (Oregon State) bounced out to the right side to give Team USA the lead.

The HiToms threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the frame after a lead-off error and stolen base had the tying run on second with nobody out. Weaver struck out two straight and Brad Zimmer (San Francisco) made a diving catch in right on a sinking line drive to end the inning.

An error proved costly to the HiToms in the fourth inning as Team USA turned it into four unearned runs. Conforto started the inning with a base hit. A two-base throwing error had him standing on third and he scored easily on a Zimmer sacrifice fly. With two outs, Kyle Schwarber (Indiana) and Nate Irving (Virginia) drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Hinojosa cleared them with a long double off the right field wall to push the lead to 5-0.

High Point-Thomasville turned a lead-off single from Kyle Martin into its first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth. A pair of walks around a great defensive play by Sam Travis (Indiana) loaded the bases with only one out. Weaver got a big strikeout for the second out of the inning, but a walk to Weston Jackson drove in the HiToms first run of the game. Irvin came on in relief and needed just four pitches to get a strikeout to end the inning with Team USA still in control, 5-1.

“Coming in with the bases loaded and two out situation is tough, especially at this level,” remarked Irvin. “Everyone is thinking at a higher pace, thinking they might know what’s coming. Coach just told me ‘get this guy, focus on the hitter’ and I was prepared to do that.”

The HiToms had chances against Irvin, but each time the left-hander had an answer. A lead-off single in the sixth was stranded at second as Irvin struck out two around a ground out. In the seventh a one-out walk was left at second as Irvin once again retired the final two batters of the inning to keep it a 5-1 Team USA lead.

In the eighth, the HiToms got a lead-off home run from Kyle Martin. With one out, Thorpe issued a walk to Alex Raburn, but he battled back to get Max Gagnon to bounce into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Burr came on in the ninth and shut the door to lock up the victory.

Team USA improves to 7-0 on its tour through the Coastal Plains League. The squad will remain in Thomasville for another contest against the HiToms. TCU’s Brandon Finnegan will take the mound for the second time this summer. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. at Finch Field.

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