Tag Archive | "USA Baseball"

New Baseball World Rankings – USA Ends Cuba’s Four Year Reign


USA Baseball has ended Cuba’s 4-year reign at the top of the World Baseball Rankings after a productive year in 2013.

The International Baseball Federation has used the World Baseball Ranking system since 2009, and each year Cuba has been at the top.

Team USA had a disappointing second round exit at the World Baseball Classic, but then picked up gold medals at the 12U Baseball World Cup and the 18U Baseball World Cup. Also giving Team USA points this summer was its “Friendship” series with Cuba where the USA’s National Collegiate Team won all five games.

Also jumping up in the standings was Japan who went from the third ranked country to the second also surpassing Cuba in the process. In the big tournaments of the year, Japan placed third at the World Baseball Classic, second at the 18U World Baseball Cup, and third again at the 12U Baseball World Cup.

The Dominican Republic made one of the bigger jumps in the standings after its win at the World Baseball Classic going from 13th a year ago to 5th.

The Netherlands remain the top European country in the standings as they swapped places with Canada moving up to 6th place.

The Americas continue to be the strongest in the polls collecting eleven of the top twenty spots. Asia and Europe combined take up 40% of the top twenty with both continents placing four teams. The last top twenty team comes from Oceania with Australia coming in at 14th.

Africa’s top representative is South Africa in at number 31.

Men’s Baseball World Rankings Top 10:

1. USA
2. Japan
3. Cuba
4. Chinese Taipei
5. Dominican Republic
6. Netherlands
7. Canada
8. South Korea
9. Puerto Rico
10. Venezuela

Complete World Rankings

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USA Announces 2013 18U National Team


Players will compete in the IBAF ‘AAA’/18U World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan

By USA Baseball

FULLERTON, Calif. – USA Baseball announced the 20 players named to the 2013 18U National Team immediately following play at the 2013 USA Baseball 18U National Team Trials in Fullerton, Calif. Players competed over five days for the final spots.

For the second consecutive year, the 18U National Team hosted trials at California State University, Fullerton near Los Angeles. Trials also included games at Long Beach State’s Blair Field, Dodger Stadium and the University of San Diego’s Fowler Park. The 2012 18U National Team that won the IBAF 18U World Championships conducted their final trials at Cal State Fullerton, as well.

These 20 players will compete in the 2013 IBAF Junior ‘AAA’/18U World Cup in Taichung, which begins on Aug. 30 with medal round competition on Sept. 8.

The 18U National Team will be managed by newly named Penn State head coach, Rob Cooper. Cooper served as an assistant coach on two USA Baseball Collegiate National Teams. He will be joined in the dugout by pitching coach Mike Maack, and assistants Eric Munson and Kevin Wilson.

The team administration will be overseen by 18U National Team director, Brant Ust, with the assistance of 18U National Team coordinator, Mark Dvoroznak. Steve Domzalski, from Wayne State University, will serve as the athletic trainer, and USA Baseball’s Cody Wilcoxson will travel as the team’s press officer.

For more information on the 18U National Team, please visit USABaseball.com.

The 20-man 2013 USA Baseball 18U National Team roster is as follows:

Name, Position, Hometown
Brady Aiken, LHP, Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.
Bryson Brigman, IF/OF, San Jose, Calif.
Joe DeMers, RHP, Martinez, Calif.
Alex Destino, LHP/OF, Weaverville, N.C.
Jack Flaherty, IF/RHP, Burbank, Calif.
Marvin Gorgas, RHP/IF, East Hampton, Conn.
Adam Haseley, OF/LHP, Windermere, Fla.
Scott Hurst, OF, Glendora, Calif.
Kel Johnson, OF, Palmetto, Ga.
Trace Loehr, IF, Milwaukie, Ore.
Mac Marshall, LHP, Parkview, Ga.
Keaton McKinney, RHP/IF, Ankeny, Iowa
Jacob Nix, RHP, Los Alamitos, Calif.
Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger, Calif.
Jakson Reetz, C/OF/RHP, Hickman, Neb.
Michael Rivera, C, Venice, Fla.
JJ Schwarz, C, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Justus Sheffield, LHP, Tullahoma, Tenn.
Lane Thomas, OF, Knoxville, Tenn.
Cole Tucker, IF, Phoenix, Ariz.

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USA 18U to Play Exhibition Games Against Chinese Taipei and Australia before 18U Baseball World Cup


The XXVI 18U Baseball World Cup starts at the end of August in Taichung, Chinese Taipei. The defending champion USA announced they will play three exhibition games before the tournament starts.

Team USA will play twice against Chinese Taipei on August 26 and 27. In their final warm up game, they will face Australia on August 28. The 18U Baseball World Cup starts on August 30 and runs through September 8.

The USA will face off with South Korea, Colombia, Italy, Cuba, and Australia during the pool play in Round 1 of the Baseball World Cup. The teams participating in the other pool will be Japan, Canada, Mexico, Czech Republic, Venezuela, and host Chinese Taipei.

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USA Wins IBAF 12U Baseball World Cup over Chinese Taipei


In its first ever time to field a 12U National Team, the USA wins the IBAF 12U Baseball World Cup with an 8-1 victory over host and defending champion Chinese Taipei.

Justin Campbell was brilliant on the hill for Team USA pitching 5.2 innings allowing just one run. He gave up six hits and struck out four to earn the win for Team USA. Campbell would go on to be named the starting pitcher for the tournament all-star team.

Team USA broke it open in the second inning when the struck for seven runs. Joseph Naranjo (2-for-3) started the inning off with a solo home run, his first. They would pick up seven hits in the inning, including another hit by Naranjo who went 2-for-2 in the inning alone.

Jakob Hines (2-for-3) doubled and hit a solo home run as he drove in a pair of runs in the game. It was his third home run of the game. He too was named to the tournament all-star team as an outfielder.

Team USA gave up just six runs in the entire tournament and three of those came in their only loss to Venezuela.

Earlier in the day Japan defeated Venezuela 8-2 to win the bronze medal.

Gold Medal Game
Chinese Taipei 1, USA 8

Bronze Medal Game
Venezuela 2, Japan 8

5th Place Game
South Korea 1, Panama 6

7th Place Game
Brazil 0, Mexico 4

Final Standings

1) USA
2) Chinese Taipei
3) Japan
4) Venezuela
5) Panama
6) Korea
7) Mexico
8) Brazil
9) Italy
9) Russia
11) Czech Republic
11) Hong Kong
13) Pakistan
13) Philippines

All Star Team

Starting Pitcher: Justin Campbell (USA)
Relief Pitcher: Kevin Martin (USA)
Catcher: Gabriel Briones (USA)
First Baseman: Po-Chun Chen (TPE)
Second Baseman: Anthony Volpe (USA)
Third Baseman: Kevin Garcia (MEX)
Shortstop: Chin-Chun Chen (TPE)
Outfielder: Jakob Hines (USA)
Outfielder: Jose Aguilar (VEN)
Outfielder: Chih-Heng Chiu (TPE)

Photo Courtesy USA Baseball

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IBAF 12U Baseball World Cup: USA Faces Defending Champion Chinese Taipei in Final


The championship game is set for the IBAF 12U Baseball World Cup. The defending champion, and host, Chinese Taipei will face off with the USA at 2:00 pm on Sunday. Both teams defeated previously unbeaten teams in the semifinals to advance.

In the bronze medal game, Japan and Venezuela will face off with one another after both lost big in the semifinal round. It was both teams first loss in the tournament.

Playing for fifth place will be Panama and Korea who both won on Saturday after losing in the quarterfinal round. The seventh place game will feature Mexico and Brazil.

South Korea 8, Mexico 4

South Korea used a five-run second inning to take a big lead early on. They wouldn’t give it up as they cruised to an 8-4 victory over Mexico giving them a spot in the fifth place game.

Dong-Wook Kwon drove in four runs for South Korea going 2-for-3 on the day including a two-run double in the second inning. Korea lead off hitter Ji-Min Shin set the table for the team scoring twice and driving in another run. He went 2-for-3 with a triple, a stolen base, and a walk.

Claudio Galvez was the only hitter for Mexico with more than one hit. He went 2-for-3 with a double.

Japan 1, USA 9

Team USA used a grand slam and great pitching to give Japan its first defeat in the tournament earning a victory to the championship game on Sunday.

The USA pitching staff gave up just three hits to the powerful Japan team that went undefeated in play against its Group A opponents.

Colton Olasin hit his second home run of the tournament. This one was a grand slam in the fourth inning giving Team USA a 9-1 win. Anthony Volpe led the team with three hits. He went 3-for-4 scoring twice and driving in another run.

Chinese Taipei 8, Venezuela 0

Chinese Taipei entered the tournament as the defending champions having defeated Cuba in the gold medal game in 2011. They entered the semifinal game having lost just once, but their opponent, Venezuela, had not lost yet. That all changed after Saturday.

Chinese Taipei starter Po-Chun Chen was dominating. He allowed just two hits in 5.2 innings striking out ten to earn the win and help his team reach the gold medal game for a second straight time.

Chih-Chun Chin went 2-for-4 hitting a solo home run, his third. Chun-Hao Ma led the team with three hits (3-for-4) with three runs scored.

Panama 3, Brazil 1

Panama used timely hitting and great pitching to limit Brazil to just one run on two hits. Ariel Vega pitched a complete game allowing just one unearned run to help Panama earn a spot in the fifth place game.

Combined the two teams only had six hits but five errors. Brazil committed four errors that led to two unearned runs.

The loss for Brazil puts them in the seventh place game against Mexico.

IBAF 12U Baseball World Cup Schedule:

7th Place Game
Mexico vs Brazil

5th Place Game
Panama vs South Korea

Bronze Medal Game
Japan vs Venezuela

Gold Medal Game
USA vs Chinese Taipei

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USA Collegiate National Team Completes Sweep of Cuba


The USA Collegiate National Team finished up its summer schedule with a 5-3 win over Cuba. The win gave the USA a historic sweep and helped it finish with a 20-3 record.

Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State) got the start and was virtually untouchable. He tossed 6.2 innings of scoreless ball giving up just two hits. He struck out eleven en route to his third win of the summer.

The middle relief struggled a bit for Team USA giving up three runs in the eighth inning, but Ryan Burr (Arizona State) was able to come in an shut down the Cuban bats in the ninth to pick up his sixth save.

The big blow for Cuba to get back in the game came off the bat of Lazaro Herrera who came on to hit a pinch-hit three-run home run off of Chris Diaz (Miami, Fla.).

Team USA got on the board in the bottom of the first inning. After working a walk and then stealing second, Kyle Schwarber (Indiana) scored on a Michael Conforto (Oregon State) double.

Trea Turner (North Carolina State) got the offense going again in the fifth inning. After working a walk and quickly stealing second, he moved to third base on a wild pitch. Alex Bregman (LSU) wasted no time in bringing him in by hitting a sacrifice fly to center field to give Team USA a 2-0 lead.

Errors would be Cuba’s downfall as the game progressed. They gave up three unearned runs over the sixth and seventh innings.

Team USA finished the summer going 13-0 in exhibition games and 7-3 in international play.

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Team USA Looks for Sweep of Cuba to Finish Off Summer Schedule


The United States Collegiate National Team has been busy over the past few weeks. In early July the team took a trip to Japan to play its Collegiate National Team in a five game set after playing a warm up game with the Shikoku College Baseball League All-Stars.

Team USA took that game against the Shikoku All-Stars 11-0, but then proceeded to down Japan in Game 1 of the series 6-3. But their winning streak wouldn’t last long as they dropped Game 2 4-0.

The USA would wind up dropping the series 3-games-to-2 after losing the final game in Tokyo 7-4.

Some of the highlights for the USA were Carlos Rodon. The left-handed starter pitched five shutout innings in his start against Japan. He had a great sophomore season with the NC State Wolfpack last season going 10-3 with a 2.99 ERA.

Another pitcher that did well was Matt Imhof. The lefty from Cal Poly came on in relief of a struggling Tyler Beede to pitch 6.2 innings. He gave up only one run and struck out six in his only appearance against Japan.

At the plate most of the hitters struggled a bit. As a team the USA hit just .234 over the five games. Tyler Sparks was one that stood out in the Japan series. The UC Irvine shortstop garnered two starts and three appearances over the series picking up six hits in eleven at-bats. Over those three games he drove in five runs which led the team in the series.

Currently the team is finishing up their summer schedule with a five game series with Cuba. So far the two teams have played four games with the USA winning all four. The final game will come tonight in Durham as Team USA looks to sweep the series.

Game 1,  Cuba 1, USA 2 (11)

In the first game last Thursday, Cuba tied the game in the top of the ninth inning to force extra frames. Carlos Rodon started and went 3.1 innings of scoreless ball. Cuba got a RBI single from Jose Fernandez (1-for-4) in the ninth to send it to extra innings.

With the tiebreaker rules putting runners at first and second to start each half inning, the USA finally took advantage in the eleventh. After failing to move the runners over with a sacrifice bunt, Matt Chapman, Cal State Fulleton, singled home the winning run with two outs. David Berg, UCLA, picked up the win with an inning of relief.

Game 2, USA 3, Cuba 2 (10)

After the first game went extra innings, the two teams decided to play another extra frame in Game 2. This time it was Team USA tying the game up late with a run in the seventh inning.

The USA took the lead for good in the top of the tenth. Trea Turner, North Carolina State, led off the inning by working a walk to load up the bases. After a strikeout, Kyle Schwarber , Indiana, drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly. Schwarber finished the game 2-for-3. He and Turner (2-for-4) were the only two hitters on either team with more than one hit.

David Berg picked up the win again in relief, but starter Luke Weaver, Florida State, pitched well going six innings giving up just two unearned runs.

Game 3, Cuba 0, USA 1

The third game in the series was another pitching duel. Brandon Finnegan, TCU, pitched seven shutout innings getting the start for Team USA. He gave up only three hits and struck out seven picking up the win.

For Cuba, Norge Ruiz pitched very well but in the end came out with the loss. He went 7.1 innings giving up just one run on three hits. He struck out eleven.

The only run of the game came in the bottom of the fourth for Team USA. Trea Turner (2-for-4) started the inning off with a single. Alex Bregman (1-for-3/LSU) followed him up with a single of his own to set up runners at first and second with no outs. After Schwarber hit into a fielder’s choice forcing Bregman out at second, Michael Conforto (0-for-1/Oregon State) came through with a sacrifice fly to left to score Turner.

Ryan Burr, Arizona State, picked up the save, his fifth of the summer, with a scoreless ninth inning.

Game 4, USA 3, Cuba 2

The fourth straight one run game went to Team USA once again. Both teams only scored in one inning as Cuba scored two in the third and the USA came back with three runs in the fifth inning.

Matt Imhof, Cal Poly, earned the win in relief of starter Erick Fedde, UNLV. Imhof pitched 1.1 scoreless innings giving up three hits.

The big hit for Team USA came off the bat of LSU shortstop Alex Bregman who had a two-run triple in the fifth. Those two runs tied the game. Bregman would score the winning run on a wild pitch by Cuba reliever Ismel Jimenez who took the loss.

Cuba stater Joel Suarez went four innings not allowing a single hit, but he gave up two runs after he walked two batters who came in to score on the Bregman triple off of Jimenez.

Team USA only picked up three hits in the game, but they worked seven walks.

Game 5, Cuba vs USA 7:05 EST from Durham Bulls Athletic Park

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USA Baseball: Collegiate National Team Finalizes 24-Man Roster


Five members will serve their second tour

Press Release USA Baseball

CARY, N.C. – The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team finalized its 24-man roster that will take part in international competition this summer. The group of 24 features 12 hitters and 12 pitchers. Five members will be serving their second tour with the squad.

Returning to the Collegiate National Team are David Berg (RHP, UCLA), Michael Conforto (OF, Oregon State), Austin Cousino (OF, Kentucky), Carlos Rodon (LHP, NC State) and Trea Turner (IF, NC State). For Cousino, it marks the third time in his career that he will represent USA Baseball after also playing with the 16U National Team.

Three members of the team are making their debut on the collegiate roster, but have represented USA Baseball at various times throughout their prep careers. Alex Bregman (IF, LSU) has played with the 16U and 18U National Teams, while C.J. Hinojosa (IF, Texas) participated with the 14U National Team and 16U Team. Ryan Burr (RP, Arizona State) played with the 16U Team.

Sixteen athletes will be representing USA Baseball for the first time in their amateur careers. TCU leads the way with three participants in LHP Brandon Finnegan, RHP Preston Morrison and RHP Riley Ferrell.

Along with TCU and NC State, Indiana also boasts multiple participants in catcher Kyle Schwarber and infielder Sam Travis.

Rounding out the roster are: Tyler Beede (RHP, Vanderbilt), Skye Bolt (OF, North Carolina), Nick Burdi (Louisville), Matt Chapman (IF, Cal State Fullerton), Grayson Greiner (C, South Carolina), Matt Imhof (LHP, Cal Poly), Daniel Mengden (RHP, Texas A&M), Taylor Sparks (IF, UC Irvine), Tommy Thorpe (LHP, Oregon), Luke Weaver (RHP, Florida State) and Brad Zimmer (OF, San Francisco).

Remaining with the team until their departure for Japan on July 3 are Chris Diaz (LHP, Miami, Fla.) and Trent Thornton (RHP, North Carolina).

The Collegiate National Team has three games remaining in its tour of the Coastal Plains League. International competition is slated to begin July 5 with an exhibition contest against the Matsuyama Industrial League. The 39th edition of the USA-Japan series gets underway July 6 in Matsuyama, Japan. Upon returning to the United States, the CNT will play a pair of exhibition games before opening up a five game series against Cuba on July 18 in Des Moines, Iowa.

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All-Japan University Baseball Federation Announces National Collegiate Roster


by All-Japan University Baseball Federation

All-Japan University Baseball Federation (JUBF) announced on June 23 the names of the 24 players selected to represent Japan for the 39th Japan/U.S. Collegiate Championship to be held in five cities in Japan from July 6 to 11.

Manager Tatsuya Yoshinami (Meiji University) said that all the eight pitchers selected have a variety of pitches to take on powerful batters of the U.S. and strong fielding and fast running of the host team should make the five duels most exciting.

The name, position, uniform number, university and throw/bat of the roster are as follows:

Coaching Staff:

Leader IWAI Yoshiki Kokusai Budo
Manager 30 YOSHINAMI Tatsuya Meiji
Coaches 50 YOKOI?Hitoki Tokai
40 SUZUKI Hideyuki Kansai Kokusai
55 TORIYAMA?Yasutaka Kokugakuin
Trainer TIKUJO Hifumi -
Captain 10 UMENO Ryutaro Fukuoka
Travel Manager HONDA Takashi Jobu

Roster:

P
(8)
11 ROKUNO?Masaji Tokai L/L
14 OSERA?Daichi Kyushu Kyoritsu R/R
18 SUGIURA Toshihiro Kokugakuin R/R
19 SEKIYA Ryota Meiji R/R
15 YAMASAKI Yasuaki Asia R/R
17 YAMASAKI Sachiya Meiji L/L
21 ISHIDA Kenta Hosei L/L
16 TANAKA Toyoki Nihon Bunri R/R
C
(4)
10 UMENO Ryutarou Fukuoka R/R
22 MINEI Hiroki Asia R/R
27 ISHIKAWA Ryohei Kokugakuin R/R
12 SAKAMOTO Seishiro Meiji R/R
IF
(8)
1 MIKI Ryo Jobu R/R
3 KAWAI Kanji Hosei R/L
6 NISHIURA Naomichi Hosei R/R
25 OKA Hiromi Meiji R/R
2 NAKAMURA Shogo Waseda R/R
7 MINESHITA Tomohiro Kinki R/L
4 OHSHIRO Koji Rikkio R/R
5 FUJIOKA Yudai Asia R/L
OF
(4)
9 OOKIDO Shohri Hosei R/L
24 EGOSHI Taiga Komazawa R/R
26 YOSHIDA Masataka Aoyama Gakuin R/L
8 MIZUMOTO Gen Asia R&L/L

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USA Baseball Announces Inaugural 12U Roster


Press Release USA Baseball

DURHAM, N.C. — USA Baseball announced on Thursday the names of the 18 players selected to represent the United States for the first time at the 12U level. The final roster includes athletes from eight different states.

The roster was selected following 11 identification events held from March through early June in 10 different states. In all, USA Baseball saw athletes from more than 20 states as part of the identification process. In addition to the 18 players named to the final roster, USA Baseball also named 10 alternates for the 12U National Team — representative of eight different states.

“This is a great first step for the 12U National Team program,” said USA Baseball CEO/executive director Paul Seiler. “We are confident in the team we will be putting on the field in Chinese Taipei, but this year was also a learning process with it being our first year fielding a 12U National Team.

“We believe that this year will be the foundation for building a successful 12U National Team program that will compete for gold medals at international competitions for years to come.”

The 12U National Team will assemble for the first time in Los Angeles on July 12. The team will spend three days training under the direction of manager Dave Webb and assistants Terrance Freeman, Jason Sekany and Tanner Vesley. Training will include an exhibition game against a team selected by the Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., that will compete this summer in the National Youth Baseball Championships.

“I am honored and humbled to represent USA Baseball’s 12U National Team as its manager this year,” Webb said. “We plan on getting the most out of these talented and dedicated young players, representing our nation with pride and bringing home the first 12U gold medal for USA Baseball.”

Webb has plenty of international experience having led the 2008 and 2009 14U National Teams to gold medals in Guatemala and Ecuador. Webb will also have the benefit of having Bill Krejci on the staff as business manager. Krejci has been the athletic director at Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa, since 2000, after 22 years as the school’s baseball coach. In addition to his duties at Southwestern, Krejci has been involved with USA Baseball for the last 18 years.

Following training, the team will depart for Taipei City, Chinese Taipei, to compete in the II IBAF 12U Baseball World Cup, July 18-28. The 12U program will open international competition for the first time against Panama on July 18.

In addition to the coaching staff and Krecji, the team will be led by national team coordinator Drew Chism and certified athletic trainer Nic Medina.

The 18-man USA Baseball 12U National Team roster is as follows:

Name, Position, Hometown

Matt Allan, RHP, Sanford, Fla.
Gabe Briones, C, Perris, Calif.
Justin Campbell, RHP/IF, Simi Valley, Calif.
Adam Crampton, IF/RHP, Oakland, Calif.
Evan Godwin, LHP, Cypress, Texas
Anthony Hall, LHP, San Diego, Calif.
Jakob Hines, C/IF, Tampa, Fla.
Kevin Martin, IF/RHP, Miami, Fla.
Garrett McMillan, IF/RHP, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Yohandy Morales, IF/OF, Miami, Fla.
Joseph Naranjo, IF/LHP, Chino, Calif.
Colton Olasin, IF/OF, Spring Hill, Fla.
Andrew Pintar, IF/RHP, Spanish Fork, Utah
Elijah Ricks, OF/RHP, San Bruno, Calif.
Sam Ruta, IF/OF, Yardley, Pa.
Carson Tucker, IF/RHP, Phoenix, Ariz.
Anthony Volpe, IF, Watchung, N.J.
Kayler Yates, IF/RHP, St. George, Utah

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USA and Japan Collegiate Teams to Meet for 39th Time


For the 39th time the USA and Japan will have a series between the two countries collegiate national teams. It will be held July 6-12 at four different venues around Japan.

The series is officially sanctioned by the IBAF with the two teams ranked #2 (USA) and #3 (Japan) in the world.

Schedule:

  • Game 1: July 6th(Sat) 14:00 Matsuyama Bocchan Stadium/Ehime Pref.
  • Game 2: July 7th(Sun) 14:00 Matsuyama Bocchan Stadium/Ehime Pref.
  • Game 3: July 8th(Mon) 18:00 Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium/ Hiroshima Pref.
  • Game 4: July 10th(Wed) 18:00 Utsunomiya Kiyohara Stadium/Tochigi Pref.
  • Game 5: July 11th(Thu) 18:00 Meiji Jingu Stadium/Tokyo

The two teams played in 2011 with the USA winning the series 3-1 with one tie. Those games were held in the USA. The first time the two played was in 1972 and over the years the USA has won 22 of the meetings with Japan winning 16.

Team USA will come back to the States to play a five game series with Cuba.

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USA Baseball College National Team: 23 Players Report on Thursday


Press Release USA Baseball

CARY, N.C. – Twenty-three of college baseball’s top underclassmen will head to the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., Thursday as the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team gets ready to open training camp.

The CNT coaching staff will be charged with the task of putting together a 24-man roster for the summer tour that will feature a five-game series against Japan and another five-game set against Cuba.

Eight members of the reporting group have already guaranteed their spot on the team, while 15 others head to North Carolina with hopes of earning a spot on the roster.

Already guaranteed a spot on the roster are: RHP Tyler Beede (Vanderbilt), RHP Ryan Burr (Arizona State), OF Austin Cousino (Kentucky), LHP Brandon Finnegan (TCU), C Grayson Greiner (South Carolina), IF Taylor Sparks (UC Irvine), LHP Tommy Thorpe (Oregon) and RHP Luke Weaver (Florida State).

The 15 hopefuls hail from coast to coast and feature: IF Matt Chapman (Cal State Fullerton), LHP Chris Diaz (Miami, Fla.), RHP Riley Ferrell (TCU), IF C.J. Hinojosa (Texas), LHP Matt Imhof (Cal Poly), LHP Cole Irvin (Oregon), C Nate Irving (Virginia), IF Will Maddox (Tennessee), RHP/C Daniel Mengden (Texas A&M), RHP Preston Morrison (TCU), IF Mike Papi (Virginia), IF Jake Peter (Creighton), LHP/INF A.J. Reed (Kentucky), RHP Colin Wellman (Loyola Marymount) and OF Brad Zimmer (San Francisco).

An additional three athletes whose season just ended in Omaha will be joining the team over the course of the weekend: IF Alex Bregman (LSU), RHP Nick Burdi (Louisville) and C Kyle Schwarber (Indiana).

Six other players are still representing their collegiate team in Omaha at the College World Series: C Brett Austin (NC State), RHP David Berg (UCLA), OF Skye Bolt (North Carolina), OF Michael Conforto (Oregon State), Carlos Rodon (NC State) and IF Trea Turner (NC State).

Coaching the Collegiate National Team this summer will be TCU’s Jim Schlossnagle. The hitting coach/3rd base coach is Arizona State’s Tim Esmay. Ole Miss’ Mike Bianco will serve as the pitching coach, while Creighton’s Ed Servais will coach first base and the defense. Brett Basham will serve as the bullpen coach.

TCU’s Danny Wheat returns as the athletic trainer and Brandie Davidson will be the press officer. Rounding out the CNT staff is Brian Cain who will be the mental skills coach for the summer.

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USA Baseball Announces Friendship Series with Cuba


USA Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation announced an upcoming series between the two countries Collegiate National Teams. The two will compete in an international friendship series for the second year in a row. This year, Cuba will travel to the USA and play a five-game series.

The teams will compete across three states from July 18-23.

The two teams will first face off in Des Moines, Iowa for Game 1. They will then move onto Omaha for Games 2 and 3 before heading east to North Carolina to finish off the series.

Read more here with the complete press release by USA Baseball.

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USA Baseball Names 2013 National Team Coaching Staffs


Federation announces managers, coaches and administrators for 18U, 15U and 12U National Teams

Press Release USA Baseball

USA Baseball announced today the coaching staffs for its 2013 national teams. Highlighted by Wright State University head coach, Rob Cooper, who was announced as the field manager of the 18U National Team in January, the staffs for the 18U, 15U and 12U National Teams have been finalized. The inaugural 12U National Team will be led by Corona del Sol High School’s Dave Webb.

Cooper, a two-time Collegiate National Team staff member, will be joined on the coaching staff by pitching coach Mike Maack and assistant coaches Kevin Wilson and Eric Munson. Maack, the head coach at Prestonwood Christian Academy (Texas), has more than 27 years of NCAA Division I and high school coaching experience. Currently in his 12th season at Prestonwood, Maack previously was the head coach at Tennessee Tech University and before that served as the pitching coach for the University of Central Florida and University of Tennessee.

Wilson is a two-time Tournament of Stars and National Team Identification Series taskforce member and will be making his first appearance on a national team coaching staff. The former Cincinnati Bearcat enjoyed a six-year professional playing career before moving into coaching and now runs Kevin Wilson Baseball in Philadelphia. Munson, a USA Baseball Collegiate National Team alum (’97-’98) and Golden Spikes Award finalist, is currently an assistant coach at the University of Dubuque in Iowa after a year as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Southern California, and a professional career that saw Munson spend parts of nine seasons in the major leagues. Munson joined 18U manager, Cooper, at last summer’s inaugural 17U National Team Development Program as one of the on-field coaches. Steve Domzalski, from Wayne State University, rounds out the staff as the athletic trainer.

“We continually look to raise the bar higher in regards to the coaching staffs and administrators who lead our athletes in competitions each year,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. “This year is no exception, and we are thrilled to see alumni of our programs return to help manage and coach for their respective clubs.”

The 18U National Team will return to Taichung, Chinese Taipei, for a second consecutive season to compete in the IBAF ‘AAA’/18U World Cup, August 30 – September 8. Last year’s 18U team played exhibition games in Taichung before winning gold at the IBAF 18U World Championships in Seoul, South Korea.

In addition to the 18U staff, USA Baseball also named its 15U National Team and inaugural 12U National Team managers, coaches and administrators today. Chatsworth High School (Calif.) head coach Tom Meusborn will return for a second season to manage the 15U team, and he will be joined by pitching coach Matt LaCour, the head coach at Harvard-Westlake High School (Calif.), and assistant coaches Chan Brown (Parkview HS – Ga.) and George Sanchez (Corona del Sol HS), all of whom have previously worked in some capacity for USA Baseball and its various youth-level teams.

Meusborn – who won his 600th game as head coach at Chatsworth High School this season – and LaCour were part of the inaugural 15U National Team coaching staff that went 4-0 during its friendship series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, last August. This year’s 15U National Team will compete in the COPABE “AA”/15U Pan American Baseball Championships, in Barranquilla, Colombia, which will be held July 26 – August 4.

Also announced was the staff that will guide USA Baseball’s first 12U National Team at the IBAF 12U World Cup in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei. Dave Webb, head coach at Corona del Sol High School in Arizona, will serve as the manager, with the assistance of Terrence Freeman (Eagle’s View Academy – Fla.), Jason Sekany (private instructor – Calif.) and Tanner Vesley (Corona del Sol HS) in the dugout.

Webb has plenty of international experience having led the 2008 and 2009 14U National Teams to gold medals in Guatemala and Ecuador. Webb will also have the benefit of having Bill Krejci on the staff as the business manager. Krejci has been the athletic director at Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa, since 2000 after 22 years as the school’s baseball coach. In addition to his duties at Southwestern, Krejci has been involved with USA Baseball for the last 18 years.

USA Baseball previously announced the coaching staff for the 2013 Collegiate National Team, with TCU’s Jim Schlossnagle tabbed as the team’s manager. Schlossnagle’s staff includes Tim Esmay (head coach, Arizona State), Mike Bianco (head coach, Ole Miss), Ed Servais (head coach, Creighton) and bullpen coach Brett Basham. Brandi Davidson and Danny Wheat, both of TCU, will serve as the team’s press officer and certified athletic trainer.

USA Baseball is still in the process of finalizing several coaching and administrative positions for its various national team programs. A final announcement will be posted to www.USABaseball.com.

A current 2013 schedule for USA Baseball competitions and events can be found by clicking here.

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College: 60-man Golden Spikes Award Watch List Released


Press Release by USA Baseball

DURHAM, N.C. – USA Baseball released its 60-man midseason Golden Spikes Award watch list on Thursday, bringing the organization one step closer to naming the top amateur baseball player in the country.

The watch list will continue to be a “rolling” list until May 28 — when the 30 semifinalists for the award are announced — ensuring that athletes can play themselves into consideration for the award. The Golden Spikes Award trophy will be awarded live on MLB Network for the third year in a row, with a live presentation scheduled during The Rundown on Friday, July 19. Through USA Baseball’s partnership with MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), the presentation will also be simulcast with a live stream available from GoldenSpikesAward.com and USABaseball.com.

Twenty-eight new players were added to the list since its initial release on February 14, joining 32 others from the original watch list. The Southeastern Conference led all conferences in watch-list players, placing 11 on the midseason update, while Georgia Tech and Louisiana State each placed three players on the list. Louisiana State infielder Alex Bregman and Cal State Fullerton right-handed pitcher Thomas Eshelman, the only two freshmen on the list, both played their way onto the midseason watch list with strong freshman campaigns. Among the 60 are six 2012 Golden Spikes Award semifinalists, including two of last year’s finalists, Mark Appel (RHP, senior, Stanford) and Carlos Rodon (LHP, sophomore, North Carolina State).

USA Baseball officials will announce the 30 semifinalists for the 2013 Golden Spikes Award on Tuesday, May 28. The list of 30 will then be sent to a voting body consisting of past USA Baseball National Team coaches and press officers, members of media that closely follow the amateur game, select professional baseball personnel, and current USA Baseball staff, representing a group of more than 200 voters in total.

Fan voting will once again be a part of the Golden Spikes Award in 2013. Tuesday, May 28, marks the day when amateur baseball fans from across the country will be able to vote for their favorite semifinalist on GoldenSpikesAward.com. As part of this selection process all voters will be asked to choose three players from the list of 30 names. On Tuesday, June 4, USA Baseball will announce the three finalists, and voting will once again commence that same day.

USA Baseball partnered with MLBAM to create GoldenSpikesAward.com in 2008. Later that year, Florida State’s Buster Posey was presented the award at MLB All-Star FanFest in New York City. Stephen Strasburg of San Diego States won the award in 2009 in St. Louis, and Bryce Harper of Southern Nevada took home the trophy from Anaheim, Calif., in 2010. UCLA’s Trevor Bauer was the 2011 winner and Florida’s Mike Zunino won the 2012 award. Bauer and Zunino accepted their trophies as part of live presentations from MLB Network’s Studio 42.

Other past winners of the Golden Spikes Award include Terry Francona (1980), Will Clark (1985), Robin Ventura (1988), Jason Varitek (1994), J.D. Drew (1997), Mark Prior (2001), Jered Weaver (2004), Tim Lincecum (2006) and David Price (2007).

Important 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award dates include:

  • Thursday, Feb. 14: 50-man preseason watch list released, shaped by USA Baseball officials and advisors
  • Thursday, May 2: 60-man midseason watch list released, shaped by USA Baseball officials and advisors
  • Tuesday, May 28: 30 semifinalists announced, selected by USA Baseball officials; semifinalist voting begins; voters to select three
  • Friday, May 31: Deadline to vote for finalists, 5 p.m. ET
  • Tuesday, June 4: Three finalists announced; finalist voting begins; voters to select one
  • Friday, June 14: Deadline to vote for winner, 5 p.m. ET
  • Friday, July 19: Live Golden Spikes Award presentation airing on MLB Network’s The Rundown

The complete 2013 midseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List is as follows:

Name, Position, Class, School, Conference (in order of last name, new players bolded)

Chris Anderson, RHP, Junior, Jacksonville, Atlantic Sun
Mark Appel, RHP, Senior, Stanford, Pac-12
Barrett Astin, RHP, Junior, Arkansas, SEC
Michael Bass, IF, Senior, UNC-W, Colonial Athletic
Tyler Beede, RHP, Sophomore, Vanderbilt, SEC
Aaron Blair, RHP, Junior, Marshall, C-USA
Matt Boyd, LHP, Senior, Oregon State, Pac-12
Alex Bregman, IF, Freshman, Louisiana State, SEC
Kris Bryant, UTL, Junior, San Diego, West Coast
Danny Collins, OF, Junior, Troy, Sun Belt
Michael Conforto, OF, Sophomore, Oregon State, Pac-12
Kyle Crockett, LHP, Junior, Virginia, ACC
LB Dantzler, IF, Senior, South Carolina, SEC
Kent Emanuel, LHP, Junior, North Carolina, ACC
Phillip Ervin, OF, Junior, Samford, SoCon
Thomas Eshelman, RHP, Freshman, Cal State Fullerton, Big West
Zane Evans, C/RHP, Junior, Georgia Tech, ACC
Buck Farmer, RHP, Senior, Georgia Tech, ACC
Johnny Field, OF, Junior, Arizona, Pac-12
Mitchell Garver, C, Senior, New Mexico, Mountain West
Marco Gonzales, LHP, Junior, Gonzaga, West Coast
Jonathan Gray, RHP, Junior, Oklahoma, Big 12
Ryon Healy, IF, Junior, Oregon, Pac-12
Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Sophomore, ECU, USA
Jason Hursh, RHP, RS Sophomore, Oklahoma St, Big 12
Eric Jagielo, IF, Junior, Notre Dame, Big East
Aaron Judge, OF, Junior, Fresno State, Mountain West
Mason Katz, IF, Senior, Louisiana State, SEC
Jared King, OF, Junior, Kansas State, Big 12
Andrew Knapp, C, Junior, California, Pac-12
Corey Knebel, RHP, Junior, Texas, Big 12
Michael Lorenzen, OF/RHP, Junior, Cal State Fullerton, Big West
Sean Manaea, LHP, Junior, Indiana State, Missouri Valley
Trey Masek, RHP, Junior, Texas Tech, Big 12
Kyle McGowin, RHP, Junior, Savannah State, Mid-Eastern
Colin Moran, IF, Junior, North Carolina, ACC
Aaron Nola, RHP, Sophomore, Louisiana State, SEC
Matt Oberste, IF, Junior, Oklahoma, Big 12
Daniel Palka, UTL, Junior, Georgia Tech, ACC
D.J. Peterson, IF, Junior, New Mexico, Mountain West
Nick Petree, RHP, RS Junior, Missouri State, Missouri Valley
Andrew Pierce, RHP, Senior, Southern Mississippi, C-USA
Adam Plutko, RHP, Junior, UCLA, Pac-12
Bryan Radziewski, LHP, Junior, Miami, ACC
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Junior, Mississippi State, SEC
Carlos Rodon, LHP, Sophomore, NC State, ACC
Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, Sophomore, Indiana, Big Ten
Jimmie Sherfy, RHP , Junior, Oregon, Pac-12
Braden Shipley, RHP, Junior, Nevada, MWC
Dan Slania, RHP, Junior, Notre Dame, Big East
Ryne Stanek, RHP, Junior, Arkansas, SEC
Jeff Thompson, RHP, Junior, Louisville, Big East
Trea Turner, IF, Sophomore, NC State, ACC
Stuart Turner, C, Junior, Mississippi, SEC
Bobby Wahl, RHP, Junior, Mississippi, SEC
Trevor Williams, RHP, Junior, Arizona State, Pac-12
Tom Windle, LHP, Junior, Minnesota, Big 10
Derrick Workman, OF, Junior, Mercer, Atlantic Sun
Jimmy Yezzo, IF, Junior, Delaware, Colonial Athletic
Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Junior, Vanderbilt, SEC

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USA Baseball launches 12U National Team


Press Release USA Baseball

USA baseball will implement a rolling invitation process for naming players to the 2013 squad. A total of 18 athletes will be identified through officially sanctioned identification events in the spring for 12U National Team Training and eventual competition at the II IBAF 12U World Cup. Players eligible for the 2013 12U National Team must be born on or after Jan. 1, 2001.

The primary identification vehicle for the 2013 USA Baseball 12U National Team will be a series of regional identification tryouts and tournaments to be held from March through May 2013. These will be sanctioned identification events that are affiliated with the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series (NTIS). Details on the tryouts and tournaments will be released on USABaseball.com as they are available. Additonal secondary events and recommendations from professional scouts, college and high school coaches, and the amateur baseball community may also be used to identify players. As players are named to the team, USA Baseball will publicize the announcement(s) through a press release and/or by posting to USABaseball.com.

Once the 18 players have been invited, they will convene at a location and time yet to be determined to participate in the 2013 USA Baseball 12U National Team Training. At the 12U Training, players will participate in practices and exhibition games as they prepare to compete in the IBAF “A” World Championships to be held in Taipei City, Taiwan, from July 20-28.

Additionally, players may qualify for the 2014 12U National Team Trials by competing in the 2013 11U NTIS. The NTIS is held each September and provides USA Baseball with an advanced look at the upcoming class of top players at the 12U, 15U, 17U and 18U competition levels.

At the NTIS, USA Baseball Task Force members will identify a minium of 16 players for the following season’s 12U National Team Trials. Players may participate in the NTIS through a regional qualification process or via the USA Stars at-large program.

Additional identification events will be held in the summer of 2014 to identify players for the 2014 12U National Team Trials. These events may include, but are not limited to, 12U USA Baseball National Team Championships tournaments and events held at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

Information contained in this selection process document is subject to change at the sole discretion of USA Baseball and without further notice. For more information on the USA Baseball NTIS, please click HERE.

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WBC: Are American Fans Boring?


I’ve followed this World Baseball Classic all over the web reading article after article and tweet after tweet. And there is one thing that seems to stand out, which Jeff Passan said best, “Major League Baseball promotes the WBC as an entity to spread the game internationally. Turns out we’re the ones with a thing or two to learn.”

Passan wrote an article calling American fans boring. I couldn’t agree more.

Let me preface this by saying I’ve spent the last three years living in baseball crazy South Korea. Here they dance, cheer, sing, and beat their thundersticks (which they came up with) no matter what the score is in the game.

Throughout the Classic there has been a lot of, as Passan puts it, “bellyaching and bitching about the horns and flag-waving and general enthusiasm that emanates from the fan bases of Latin American teams” And it’s not just the Latin American fans. You could include the Asian Fans in that as well. The US fans just haven’t seen them in person yet.

But why are we “bellyaching and bitching”? We should embrace it and take from it, not just that it’s okay to actually cheer, that it’s okay to have fun. So much of watching a game back home in the US is either yelling at your own guys because they did something wrong or yelling at the other team because, well, they aren’t your team.

Baseball is more than that. We usually sit and wait for the big play to stand up and cheer. Why? Why can’t we stand up and cheer at any point in the game? It not only breeds excitement in the stands, but it breeds excitement on the field and the players feed off of that.

Our society as a whole is too worried about ‘showing someone up’. When you stand at home plate and admire a long home run you are showing someone up. When you are cheering for your team and you show emotion you’re not.

Maybe it’s not considered ‘politically correct’. I’m here to tell you that being “PC” will be the downfall of the West.

Baseball is an emotional game. So let’s see some of that emotion. Don’t hold it in. Let it out.

And why are so many people not on board with the WBC? Time after time I’ve seen from a so-called “baseball fan” and even a lot of reporters that cover the came that they just can’t get into it. I don’t get it.

This has been some of the most exciting baseball played in a long time. There are so many interesting story lines, upsets, Cinderella stories if you will, yet so many people can’t get behind it at all.

They say it’s boring. That just means you haven’t watched any of it.

They say the games don’t matter, yet worry about their team in spring training. I can’t even begin to point out the irony there.

I think we would all like to see the best players in the tournament. But if we are all sitting here saying it doesn’t matter, why should they play? We need to express just how much it does matter to them. Then they will be more inclined to play. But we are never going to get there with all of the negative talk about why this thing doesn’t matter.

Just read the comments of Passan’s article. They complain about him, baseball, the tournament, and the players. Some of them are so misguided it’s not even funny. Since when does football have “unrelenting action”? You watch a football game for three hours and they actually play for what 15 minutes? Since when is that “unrelenting action”?

Of course most of the ones that make the really bad comments can’t even post under their own name. There are a lot of trolls on the internet. But there are a lot of fans that seem to be misguided and that is not good for the game.

If so many people are concerned about their team, why can’t they see the bigger picture? This tournament helps the game AROUND THE WORLD! In return that only helps the big leagues. Do you really think that this tournament doesn’t matter to places like Italy or the Netherlands? Baseball got some much needed exposure in those countries which only helps in the long run.

Perhaps that’s the problem with US fans. We are too concerned about what is happening right now to even see the long term effects of the tournament. We are a society that needs instant gratification, but if the fans could only see that this tournament helps their Dodgers or Yankees or Red Sox in the long run maybe they could support it a little more.

As a fan of the game, and a fan of growing the game worldwide, it’s frustrating to see so many fans, and at times writers, bash the tournament and say it is meaningless. They just don’t get it, but hopefully one day they will.

Keep up the good work Jeff Passan. Even if you write things that many American fans can’t stomach.

Edit: I wanted to clarify two points that I have seem to blend together here. Here is point #1

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WBC: Puerto Rico Eliminates USA; Advances to Championship Round


Figueroa Pitches Puerto Rico Past U.S., Into Semifinals

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

Puerto Rico scored a run in the first inning and Nelson Figueroa made it stand it up with six scoreless frames, and the team withstood a late rally from the United States to qualify for the World Baseball Classic semifinals. The 4-3 decision eliminated the U.S. from the WBC almost exactly four years to the day after the Americans sent Puerto Rico home in the second Classic.

Angel Pagan showed why he is considered the sparkplug of the Puerto Rican offence with a game-opening single up-the-middle off U.S. starter Ryan Vogelsong. The San Fransisco Giants’ pitcher got two quick outs, but Puerto Rico staged a two-out rally.

With the infield playing toward the middle, Yadier Molina drove a pitch the other way and reached on a single through a big hole on the right side of the infield. Mike Aviles then stroked a ball between first and second to score Pagán from second. The single drove in his eighth run of the tournament, tied for third-best.

Vogelsong denied Alex Riíos a chance to drive home the runners on the corners with a popout, but Puerto Rico had a 1-0 lead.

Nelson Figueroa took the hill in the bottom of the first and worked around an error by Aviles, inducing a double play by Ryan Braun with one out to end the frame. Neither starter allowed a hit in the second.

Puerto Rico had another chance in the third. Pagán worked a free pass to start the inning, by Jesús Feliciano grounded into a double play. The 3-6-1 twin killing would save a run, as Carlos Beltrán ripped his only hit of the ballgame into the right field corner for a double. Yadier Molina popped the next pitch to third to keep the U.S.’ deficit at one.

The fourth and fifth innings were quiet as the two nations received good innings from their hurlers. Vogelsong would leave with two outs in the fifth inning after nearing his pitch limit, and Vinnie Pestano took over with Beltrán on first after a walk.

Pestano gave up a single to Aviles and then loaded the bases on a base on balls to Ríos, hitting only .156 in the Classic. With left-handed hitting Carlos Rivera due up, Greg Maddux, pitching coach for the Americans, visited the mound and left the righty Pestano in the game. Despite Jeremy Affeldt, a southpaw with World Series experience, warming in the pen, Pestano was allowed to pitch to Rivera.

The Mexican leaguer earned a walk on six pitches, scoring a second run for Puerto Rico. Pestano was allowed to remain in the game and, after working an 0-2 count on Andy González, left a slider in the zone. González crushed the pitch into the left field corner for a two-run double, and Puerto Rico’s lead grew to 4-0.

U.S. manager Joe Torre finally yanked his struggling reliever and sent in Affeldt. The lefty got a one-pitch groundball from Irving Falú and the nightmarish inning was finally over.

Figueroa remained on the hill for the sixth. He gave up the second hit of the game for the red, white, and blue, but then struck out Brandon Phillips, who reached in every other plate appearance in the game. Molina finished the inning by throwing a laser to second to erase Jimmy Rollins, who was trying to steal.

Affeldt stayed on for a scoreless seventh, though Pagán reached on a bouncer to the left side and created havoc at first base until Affeldt retired the side. The U.S. would finally score their first run in the bottom of the frame, the longest it had ever taken the team to plate a run in a WBC game.

Joe Mauer stroked a triple into the gap in right centre with one out, and Giancarlo Stanton sent him home with a single to left off reliever Giovanni Soto. He was forced out on a grounder, but Eric Hosmer rapped a single to centre to put two runners on. José de la Torre, who pitched Puerto Rico out of a jam against Italy two days earlier, got Adam Jones to strike out looking for the third out.

Heath Bell kept Puerto Rico off the board in the eighth, and the American offence kept clicking after another de la Torre strikeout of Shane Victorino. Rollins singled to right and Phillips beat out a slow roller to shortstop to put two runners on.

Braun ripped a two-bagger into the left field corner to plate Rollins, and the U.S. had narrowed the score to 4-2. Puerto Rican manager Edwin Rodriguez summoned Xavier Cedeno to face Mauer, but the star catcher worked a six-pitch walk.

Fernando Cabrera was next out of the bullpen for Rodríguez and got the second out from Stanton on an eight-pitch at bat. Cabrera then walked Zobrist on four pitches, forcing in a run and narrowing Puerto Rico’s lead to one.

Rodríguez continued to work the lefty-right matchups and brought in southpaw J.C. Romero to face Hosmer. With right-handers Jonathan Lucroy and J.P. Arencibia on the bench, Torre left in Hosmer, who was 1-for-31 against left-handed relievers in 2012. The pitching substitution worked magic for Puerto Rico as Romero generated an easy tapper to second, and the game moved to the ninth with the score 4-3 in Puerto Rico’s favour.

Craig Kimbrel, who took the loss after a brutal outing the night before, pitched the ninth. The red, white, and blue closer worked around a leadoff hit to hold Puerto Rico scoreless, giving the U.S. hitters one final chance to tie the game.

Romero stayed on to close and looked extremely good. The veteran pounded his sinker low in the zone, mixing in the occasional changeup and slider and got Jones to strike out on six pitches. He turned up the heat on Victorino, catching him looking for a three-pitch strikeout.

Rollins then flew out to Pagán, who waited just long enough for the ball to settle in his glove before jumping in celebration as the Puerto Rican bench mobbed Romero on the mound. The victory was the biggest upset in recent memory for Puerto Rico, ranked No. 12 in the world, in recent memory.

The 2013 World Baseball Classic is over for the second-rated U.S. team, continuing their streak of disappointment in the tournament. Puerto Rico joins a semifinals that does not include the top two teams in the world, though it does feature two-time defending WBC champions and third-ranked Japan, No. 7 Netherlands, the most recent world champion, and a loaded Dominican Republic team.

Rollins and Phillips both had two hits for the losers, who had eight hits and drew three walks. The Americans left seven runners on base. The bottom five in the order was 2-for-22, struck out four times, and left 11 men stranded.

Pagán raised his WBC average to .391 with a 2-for-3 day, scoring once and drawing a walk. Aviles joined him with a brace of hits and the team struck out only twice against U.S. pitching, drawing four walks and collecting nine hits.

Vogelsong was the hard-luck loser, giving up two runs on four hits and two walks, whiffing one in 5 2/3. Figueroa improved to 2-0 in the Classic, lowering his ERA to 1.80 with six scoreless innings. He surrendered only two hits and a base on balls, striking out two. Romero earned his first save of the tourney.

Puerto Rico will have only a few hours to prepare for their final game of the second round. It takes on an undefeated Dominican Republic side to determine the seeding for the semifinals. The contest starts at 6 p.m. GMT on Mar. 16.

Check back for news and analysis of that game and the championship round of the World Baseball Classic.

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WBC: Dominican Republic Downs USA; Secures Spot in Championship Round


Dominican Republic Upsets USA, Advances in WBC

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

In a game that truly earned the title of World Baseball Classic, Erick Aybar delivered a pinch hit, go-ahead single in the ninth inning to lead the Dominican Republic in a 3-1 victory over the United States. The dramatic victory qualified the Dominicans for the semifinal round and pushed the U.S.A. within one loss of elimination.

Both teams featured dominant pitching throughout the game, with neither nation able to mount a consistent offence. Despite the absence of ‘Captain America’, David Wright, the U.S. struck in the first against Samuel Deduno, who otherwise had a stellar performance.

Deduno, coming off a strong showing against Spain in the first round, looked shaky to start the game. He gave up a one-out single to Brandon Phillips before getting Ryan Braun swinging. Joe Mauer stroked a one-base hit off Deduno before Giancarlo Stanton bounced a ball up the middle that was stopped by a diving Jose Reyes. Reyes could not get a strong enough toss to second for the forceout and the U.S. had the bases jammed.

Deduno briefly lost control of the strike zone against Eric Hosmer, who took a four-pitch free pass to push across the first run for the U.S. The Dominican hurler followed with a full count against Adam Jones, but dropped a curveball down the heart of the plate to catch Jones looking. It was the last time that the U.S. would have multiple runners on base.

R.A. Dickey started for the United States and had a better feel of his knuckleball than in his first WBC start, but after retiring the first four Dominican batters, left a knuckler in Hanley Ramirez’s wheelhouse. Ramírez crushed the ball to the walkway in left centre, striking the ‘427 foot’ sign with the ball.

Dickey almost ran in to trouble with two outs in the inning after a single by Carlos Santana, sending him to second on a wild pitch. The right-hander got out of the frame with a groundball to keep the score level.

J.P. Arencibia led off the bottom of the second with a single against Deduno. After the runner advanced to second on a sacrifice, Deduno bore down, striking out Jimmy Rollins looking and getting a grounder from Phillips.

The Dominicans got two hits in the third, but Dickey once more battled out of the jam, and the two starters traded zeroes through the fourth. Deduno hit his pitch count after four, but struck out seven while scattering seven baserunners. The U.S. had a runner on base in all four of his frames, but Deduno worked around it every time with a tight curveball to compliment his 92-mph/148-kmh tailing fastball.

Dickey lasted five frames before exiting at the pitch limit. After a booming double by Nelson Cruz with one out in the fourth, Dickey sent down the final five batters he faced. He struck out four, walked one, and surrendered five hits.

From the bottom of the fifth onward, it was a battle of the bullpens. Both teams were up to the task, with each registering only one hit between the fifth and eighth innings. Kelvin Herrera was particularly impressive in relief of Deduno, working through the heart of the US order in the fifth and sixth, allowing no hits or base on balls.

Luke Gregerson, Tim Collins, and Steve Cishek worked the sixth through eight innings for U.S. manager Joe Torre. Cishek hurled an impressive 1-2-3 inning in the eighth against Robinson Cano, Edwin Encarnacion, and Ramírez, catching the latter looking on strike three and leaping off the mound with a triumphant fist pump.

The U.S. got only their sixth hit of the game in the eighth, but Pedro Strop was not troubled by the Mauer safety, striking out Giancarlo Stanton looking and getting a fly ball from Eric Hosmer to send the game to the ninth.

Torre sent in his closer, Craig Kimbrel, with the game tied at one and the 6-7-8 hitters due up for the Dominican Republic. Cruz torched his second double of the game, this time sending it to the opposite alley from his first two-bagger.

Stanton, the rightfielder for the Americans, made a nice play to cut off the ball, diving to catch the ball off one bounce and throwing a laser into second, just behind Cruz. Kimbrel gave up only one double in all of 2012 while finishing games for the Atlanta Braves.

Santana bounced out slowly to second, and Cruz was off with the pitch, making it to third without drawing a throw. With Ricardo Nanita, the only member of the Dominican lineup without big league experience due up, Dominican skipper Tony Pena sent in pinch hitter Erick Aybar.

Aybar took a called strike two on a horrendous call by the home plate umpire, bounding out of the box in disbelief, but ripped the next ball to shallow right field. Cruz came racing home with the Dominicans’ first run since the second inning, and Aybar had a RBI-single as the well-represented Dominican fans erupted into pandemonium. The dugout for the visitors erupted as well, and Cruz was battered with praise as he made his way to the bench.

Peña’s men were not finished with Kimbrel, as Aybar took off for second on the next batter, stealing second base and putting another run in scoring position. Kimbrel got out number two on a strikeout, but Reyes struck a single to left field and Aybar sprinted home to make it 3-1. By this point, both the players and fans for the Dominican Republic were in an absolute frenzy as the U.S.’ fans looked on helplessly.

Torre had finally had enough from Kimbrel, who had a 1.01 ERA in 2012, inserting Mitchell Boggs. Boggs got a ground ball to put an end to the rally, but the Dominican Republic had firmly taken the momentum.

Fernando Rodney entered to close out the game and did just that. Peña’s stopper got a 1-2-3 inning, striking out one for his fourth save of the Classic, tied for most all-time. Strop improved to 3-0, setting WBC records for most wins in a tournament and eclipsing the previous mark for career victories by a reliever.

While Aybar may have been the player of the game, Cruz and Santana each notched two hits to lead the Dominican. U.S. pitchers struck out nine of their opponents and held the Dominicans hitless with runners in scoring position until Kimbrel’s implosion.

Kimbrel suffered his first loss for Team U.S.A., ruining a night that had seen the Americans hold the powerful Dominican bats to six hits until the ninth frame. Mauer was the sole hitting star for the U.S., collecting a pair of safeties to raise his average in the tournament to .444.

The red, white, and blue certainly missed the contributions of Wright, who came in hitting .438 with a Classic-leading 10 RBI. The team was only 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and struck out nine times while leaving eight runners stranded.

Wright will be questionable with a sore back for the Americans’ next game against Puerto Rico. Torre will only have a day to regroup before facing intra-national rivals in Marlins Park. Game time is scheduled for 7 pm. EST on Mar. 15. The loser will return home, while the winner will join the Netherlands, Japan, and the Dominican Republic in San Francisco.

Before flying across the country, the Dominicans will have one more game to determine whether they will face the Dutch or the Japanese in AT&T Park. The 1 p.m. EST game on Mar. 16 will pit them against the winner of the U.S.-Puerto Rico contest.

Stay tuned for coverage of the final two games of the second round and the single-elimination finals of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

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WBC: Wright Pulled from USA Lineup; Might be Out for Good


David Wright was pulled from Team USA’s World Baseball Classic game on Thursday with the Dominican Republic due to a rib injury. Captain America, as he has been named due to his earlier WBC heroics, will miss the rest of Round 2 and possibly the rest of the WBC if Team USA advances.

Wright has been one of the catalyst to get the USA to this point in the Classic. He is hitting .438 (7 for 16) and is leading the WBC in RBI with 10. However, it doesn’t appear he will get to improve on that.

Manager Joe Torre doesn’t expect to have Wright back in the lineup and has replaced him with Willie Bloomquist.

It was a team decision involving Team USA and New York Mets medical staffs to sit Wright. He really wanted to play and wasn’t pulled until just before the first pitch.  However, Wright understands why the decision was made.

Wright knows the first priority is to be ready for the New York Mets Opening Day game, so now is not the time to play through an injury even if it isn’t very painful to play with.

Unfortunately for Team USA, Wright cannot be replaced at this point in time. The only time a roster move can be made mid-round is if a catcher gets hurt or there is a family emergency. He can be replaced if the team makes the Championship Round in San Francisco. All that is needed for that is a win against Puerto Rico on Friday night.

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WBC: USA vs Dominican Republic Pitching Match Up


One of the most anticipated match ups has finally arrived. The USA will face the Dominican Republic on Thursday night in Miami to see who will get the first bid from Pool 2 into the Championship Series in San Francisco.

Both teams have been on a roll of late and feature two of the hottest hitters in the Classic. The Dominican’s Robinson Cano is leading the tournament in hits (12), doubles (4), and total bases (22). Plus he is hitting .632 with a pair of home runs.

David Wright might not be leading the Classic in hitting, but he is have a great tournament. He is hitting .438 with two doubles and a home run. And he has had some huge hits leading the Classic in RBI with 10.

But who will be getting the start on the mound? Let’s take a look.

USA

The USA will be starting the reigning N.L. Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. Dickey didn’t have a great start in the opening game against Mexico. He gave up four runs in four innings. He didn’t walk a batter, but he did give up six hits.

Dickey will look to get his knuckleball tumbling on Thursday. He will be facing a strong Dominican lineup.

Dominican Republic

Sam Deduno will get the start for the Dominican. He started 15 games last season with the Minnesota Twins going 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA.

The 29-year old has spent most of his career in the minor leagues compiling a 45-45 record over 169 games (140 starts). He has struggled with his control in the big leagues walking 53 batters in 79.0 innings in 2012. However, over eight minor league seasons he has averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

The winner of the game will have a ticket to the Championship Round in San Francisco. The loser will face Puerto Rico in an elimination game on Friday March 15.

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WBC: David Wright Leads Team USA to Victory


Captain America Strikes Again in US Win

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

David Wright, dubbed ‘Captain America’ after his clutch grand slam against Italy, came through again in the second round of the World Baseball Classic. The U.S. third baseman doubled his WBC-leading RBI total to 10 in a 7-1 victory over Puerto Rico.

The final score was not indicative of how hard a battle this was for the U.S. Four of the runs came in the Americans’ last two times at bat, as Puerto Rican pitching kept them off balance for most of the game.

The U.S. was first to score, plating a run in the opening frame. Ryan Braun walked against Mario Santiago and scored on a double by Joe Mauer, who reached base four times in the game.

Puerto Rico, which scored the fewest runs of any team to make the second round, looked helpless against Gio Gonzalez, making his first appearance in the Classic. The southpaw did not allow more than one baserunner to reach base in any inning, regularly hitting the mid-90s/low-150s with a nasty two-seam fastball and using a nifty curve.

The red, white, and blue gave González an insurance run in the third inning. Brandon Phillips stroked a hit to left to start the frame, and Ryan Braun followed with an infield hit to the hole at shortstop. After a walk to Mauer loaded the bases, Wright drove in his first run on a grounder. The U.S. would leave two on in the inning, but took a 2-0 lead.

Neither team threatened in the fourth, and González finished his outing with a 1-2-3 fifth, striking out two batters. The U.S. fell short of another big inning in the bottom of the frame, but pushed across its third run.

Rollins singled to right and moved over on a sacrifice bunt. Santiago struck out Ryan Braun, but strike three bounced away from catcher Yadier Molina and Braun raced to first. That was all for Santiago, who went 4 1/3 innings. Andres Santiago walked Mauer to load the bases and Wright came through with a RBI single through the right side of the infield. Puerto Rico got the next two outs, but it was now 3-0.

Neither nation added to the scoreboard in the sixth, and Vinnie Pestano followed Jeremy Affeldt’s scoreless sixth with his own in the seventh. The U.S. once more scraped together a run, this time with two outs. Eric Hosmer beat out an infield hit to shortstop and stole second base. Adam Jones laced a single to centre to make it 4-0.

Puerto Rico finally got on the board in the eighth. Pinch hitter Jesus Feliciano was hit to start the frame and moved to third on a double by Eddie Rosario, a 21-year old top Minnesota Twins’ prospect. Feliciano scored on a grounder by Ángel Pagán. David Hernandez prevented Puerto Rico from getting any closer, though.

With the U.S. only now firmly in control, three more insurance runs were tallied in the bottom of the frame. Jimmy Rollins started things off with a single over second base and Braun beat out another ground ball single to the left side of the infield.

Joe Mauer earned his third free pass to load the bases, but Wright once more stepped up, crushing a double to deep centre, the longest ball hit during the game. He was stranded at second, but Craig Kimbrel got three outs in the ninth and the 7-1 score was final.

The irony of Wright’s moniker is that it was cemented in a game which featured two teams from the United States, as Puerto Rico is a territorial dependency. Wright tied Hisayoshi Chono, who hit the mark earlier in the day, and Jose Abreu for most RBI in a game in the 2013 Classic. The mark is still short of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s memorable seven RBI-day in 2006 against South Africa.

Rollins, Braun, and Giancarlo Stanton joined Wright with two hits, with the first hitters scoring twice as well. Puerto Rican pitching kept the U.S. from finding its groove until the eighth inning, as the U.S. stranded 12 runners and hit 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

Rosario was the only Puerto Rican with two knocks against the U.S. The team banged out only seven hits and was 0-for-7 with baserunners on second or third.

Mario Santiago took the loss, though he pitched out of two predicaments in his 4 1/3 frames. He gave up three runs on five hits and two walks, striking out three with a 96-mph/154-kmh fastball. Six other pitchers toed the rubber for Puerto Rico, with José de la Torre’s sixth inning the most impressive. The Boston Red Sox minor league struck out Rollins, Phillips, and Braun with two on.

González got his first WBC victory for the U.S. He hurled five shutout innings, allowing just three hits while whiffing five. Five relievers closed out the game.

Italy and Puerto Rico will battle to remain in the World Baseball Classic on Mar. 13 at 7 p.m. EST in Marlins Park. The loser will go home in the double-elimination bracket. The United States will have a day off to prepare for the Dominican Republic on Mar. 14 at 7 p.m. EST. The winner will automatically qualify for the semifinals in San Francisco.

Stay tuned for news and analysis of the rest of the Classic.

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WBC: Puerto Rico vs USA Pitching Match Up


Round 2 kicked off today in Miami for Pool 2. The second game of the day features the USA vs Puerto Rico in should be a very good game. However, the starting pitchers in the game are quite different when it comes to experience. One has only reached the highest minor league level in 2011. While  his opponent was winning 20 games in the big leagues last season.

Puerto Rico

Mario Santiago will get the start for Puerto Rico. He was drafted in the 16th round in 2005 and pitched seven seasons in the minor leagues reaching as high as Triple-A in 2011. However, he was out of organized baseball in 2012 only pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League where he struggled. In 2012 for Carolina, he went 1-3 in five games with an ERA north of eight.

Santiago pitched in the 2009 WBC going 1-1 with 11 strikeouts and a 0.75 ERA. He has not pitched for Puerto Rico so far in 2013.

USA

The USA will send a 21-game winner from a year ago to the hill, the Washington Nationals Gio Gonzalez. He led the league in wins and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting. He had a great year for the Nationals and looks to continue that in the WBC.

In 2012, he set a Nationals club record for pitching 25 consecutive scoreless innings. He also ranked third in the league with 8.8 strikeouts per 9 innings by a lefty.

Gonzalez has not pitched for the USA in previous WBCs or so far this season. He will be making his debut today.

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WBC: USA Rallies Late, Defeats Canada to Advance


U.S. Escapes Canada, Advances to WBC Second Round

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

The United States, ranked second in the global baseball charts, survived a tenacious Canadian team and piled on two big innings late in the game in a 9-4 victory. The Pool D finale was a winner-take-all event, and it was the U.S. who will advance to Miami to join Italy, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico as the top seed from the pool.

Both countries received battling efforts from their starters, each of whom gave up two runs in a single inning, but faced several threats. Sixth-rated Canada’s relief pitchers could not keep up with talents of the U.S. all-stars.

It appeared that the Americans would strike first when David Wright led off the top of the second with a booming double to the wall in right centre. He moved to third on a fielding error that put runners on first and second. Adam Jones bunted Wright and Ben Zobrist over, but Wright was caught in a rundown on a sharply struck ground ball off the bat of Eric Hosmer and the U.S. failed to score.

It was Canada who first claimed the lead against U.S. starter Derek Holland. In the bottom of the frame, Justin Morneau led off with a double on the first offering from Holland, and two pitches later, left-handed hitting Michael Saunders blasted a two-run homer off the southpaw. The four-bagger to the right field corner gave Canada a 2-0 lead. Holland gave up two more hits in the inning but kept the margin at two.

After the rough second inning, Maple Leaf starter Jameson Taillon settled in for the third, striking out two in the 1-2-3 frame. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ top prospect caught both Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Braun looking.

Canada failed to add to their lead in the third and the U.S. figured out Taillon. Joe Mauer started things off with a hit and moved over on a walk to Wright. Ben Zobrist tapped a bouncer between the pitcher’s mound and third base, and beat out a wild throw from Taylor Green. The throwing error caused Mauer to score and Zobrist moved to third with no outs. Jones had another sacrifice to drive in a run, this time of fly ball variety, and the score remained 2-2 through four.

Both teams were retired 1-2-3 in the fifth, with Dustin Molleken taking over for Taillon, who allowed one earned run on four hits and a walk. Holland went five innings, retiring the final seven batters he faced, though he had to settle for the no decision. He struck out four and surrendered two runs, also allowing four hits and a base on balls.

Canada took back the lead in the sixth. Joey Votto walked and went to second on Justin Morneau’s second safety of the game. New U.S. pitcher Glen Perkins looked like he might work out of the predicament after catching Saunders looking at strike three and inducing a fly ball for the second out, but Adam Loewen ripped a RBI-single to make it 3-2.

A pressing American offence got two hits in the seventh and had runners on second and third with one out, but PhillippeAumontretired Brandon Phillips and Ryan Braun. The Philadelphia Phillies’ pitcher pumped his fists in exultation after Braun grounded out and Canada needed only two more outs to advance.

Desperate for an insurance run, Heath Bell registered a three-up, three-down inning for Canada in the seventh and turned the ball over to the U.S. hitters for the eighth.

Joe Mauer bounced a ball up-the-middle to lead off the frame, going to second on a walk to Wright. Zobrist tried unsuccessfully to bunt the runners over, popping out to the catcher for the first out. Jones picked up his teammate with a two-run double to deep left centre and gave the U.S. its first lead in the game. Shane Victorino made up for back-to-back strikeouts with runners on with a single through the hole into left field to make it 5-2.

David Hernández, rusty from over a week without use, was the recipient of some bad luck in the bottom of the eighth, giving up a run on two infield singles and one safety to the outfield on a 10-pitch at bat to plucky Canadian catcher Chris Robinson. The RBI went to Loewen, who scored Votto on a groundball. U.S. manager Joe Torre once more used his bullpen well, inserting Steve Cishek with two outs and runners on second and third and getting a ground ball out to end the threat.

With the score now 5-4, the red, white, and blue looked to regain the momentum and add an insurance run to the score, but they got their best offensive output of the tournament. Phillips started with a double and came around to tie the game on a Jonathan Lucroy safety. A third walk to Wright and an infield hit to Zobrist loaded the bases, and Hosmer, a late addition to the squad, roped a long double to centre to make it 9-3. The two-bagger was his third hit of the game.

Craig Kimbrel, the U.S. closer, exhibited filthy stuff in the bottom of the ninth, averaging 95/153 on a late-tailing fastball to catch two batters looking, including slugger Votto to end the game.

The win went to Bell and the loss to Henderson, who started the disastrous eighth inning. Both Torre and Team Canada skipper Ernie Whitt used six pitchers in the game.

Canada left eight men on base and hit .273 with runners in scoring position, while the US stroke a .353 mark in the same situations. Zobrist had three infield singles to pace the American team in hits. Jones and Hosmer each drove in three and Wright crossed the plate on three different occasions. Braun and Rollins both had stolen bases.

Canada is eliminated from the World Baseball Classic with a 4-2 record in all rounds, leaving them at 9-5 all-time. The United States will face the loser of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico contest on Mar. 13 at 1 a.m. GMT. Stay tuned for more recaps, news, and analysis.

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