Junior National Team falls 8-7 to Mexico at COPABE Pan Am Championships
Late Team USA rally comes up short; Americans will play Cuba Aug. 31 in medal round semifinals
August 29, 2007
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IXTAPA, Mexico - Despite holding an early three-run lead, the USA Baseball Junior National Team surrendered eight runs in the middle innings and then saw a late-game rally fall short in an 8-7 loss to host Mexico Aug. 29 before a raucous crowd of 1,000 at U.D.P.T.V.A. Stadium in a battle of undefeated teams from the same pool in the COPABE "AAA" Pan American Junior Championships. The 11-team tournament, which features athletes ages 18 and under serves as a qualifier for next year's International BAseball Federation "AAA" World Championships, ends Sept. 1 with the medal games and consolation finals.
The loss was the first in four games for Team USA, the defending Pan Am silver medalist, and left the Americans in second place in Pool B. By finishing second in its six-team pool, the USA will meet defending champion Cuba (4-0) in one medal round semifinal contest Aug. 31. Cuba won the five-team Pool A. By winning Pool B, Mexico (4-0) will take on Canada, the second-place squad from Pool A. Canada was 2-1 entering a make-up game Aug. 30 against the Bahamas (0-2). Times for the medal round semifinal games have not been announced.
Against Mexico, Team USA appeared in control after moving in front 3-0 in the opening two innings. A first-inning RBI single by Jeff Malm (INF; Las Vegas, NV) followed by a sacrifice fly by LJ Hoes (OF; Bowie, MD) and a run-scoring single from Garrison Lassiter (INF; High Point, NC) in the second gave the USA its early lead.
But a leadoff walk in the fourth inning by Team USA starter Matthew Purke (LHP; Spring, TX) ignited a game-tying three-run frame for Mexico. The host country scored its three runs without a hit, taking advantage of five walks issued by USA pitchers along with a two-out fielding error that allowed the tying run to score.
The Americans regained the lead, 4-3, in the bottom of the inning when Mychal Givens (INF; Tampa, FL), who had opened the inning with a walk, came around to score on a balk-one of four balks called in the game.
But Mexico knotted the contest with a run in the top of the fifth inning then took the lead for good with a four-run sixth. Once again, wildness from the USA pitching staff contributed to the rally. After Mexico opened the frame with four straight hits to score its first two runs, Team USA pitching issued four consecutive two-out walks. The last two walks each forced in a run for an 8-4 Mexico lead. For the game, USA hurlers issued 12 walks.
The Americans began chipping away at the lead in the home half of the sixth inning by tallying a pair of runs. Two-out RBI base hits by Malm and JP Ramirez (OF; New Braunfels, TX), who collected three of Team USA's nine hits, cut the deficit to 8-6.
Team USA closed to within one run in the seventh inning. A run-scoring groundout by Robbie Grossman (OF; Cypress, TX) plated Jordan Swagerty (C; Sachese, TX), who opened the inning with a walk, to make it 8-7.
But that is as close as the Americans would get. After going down in order in the eighth, a one-out walk to Kyle Buchanan (C; Auburn, WA) in the bottom of the ninth inning brought the winning run to the plate. But the rally ended one batter later on a double play grounder to end the contest, which took 4 hours, 7 minutes to complete.
"For the first time in the tournament, we faced some adversity," JNT Head Coach Victor Solis said. "Obviously, we were not the 'home' team today. We had some rough innings and didn't get some pitches called that we would have liked. But we needed to do some things to make those innings shorter. On the plus side, we rallied after being behind. We ran out of at bats. We'll be back. This is a good team. We will be ready to go in the medal round."
Following the Mexico game, Team USA learned from COPABE officials that its pool-play matchup against El Salvador, originally scheduled for Aug. 27 but postponed to Aug. 30 due to rain, would not be played.
USA Baseball is the National Governing Body of the sport in the United States and is a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The organization selects and trains the USA Baseball National Team, the USA Baseball Junior National Team (18 and under), the USA Baseball Youth National Team (16 and under), the USA Baseball 14U National Team (14 and under) and the USA Baseball Women's National Team, which participate in various international competitions each year.
2007 COPABE "AAA" PAN AMERICAN JUNOR BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
August 24-Sept. 1 Ixtapa, Mexico
||Puerto Rico 3-2
||El Salvador 0-4