August 21, 2006
by Zach McCann / Special to

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  • KISSIMMEE, Fla. - You can't play much better than Team USA did on Monday.

    The United States did everything right in an 11-0 win over Puerto Rico in an exhibition game at Osceola County Stadium. The game ended after seven innings because of the 10-run rule.

    The win concludes a three-game series between the two teams in which the U.S. outscored Puerto Rico 33-6.

    Ten American players recorded hits. Chad Allen was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Mark Reynolds went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

    The 3-5 spots in the batting order were a combined 6-for-11 with eight RBIs and six runs.

    "We're getting better, we're relaxing more and we're getting to know each other," U.S. manager Davey Johnson said. "It's a team. It takes time to come together and these guys have really gotten along well."

    Mike Kinkade began the scoring early with a two-run double in the top of the first. Two batters later, Chad Allen hit a two-run shot to give the U.S. a 5-0 advantage before recording an out.

    In the fifth, eight of the first nine U.S. batters tallied hits. Along the way, Reynolds, Bryan LaHair and Allen notched RBI doubles and the Americans were ahead 11-0 by the end of the inning.

    On the mound, left-handed starter Heath Phillips pitched three scoreless, one-hit innings. Nick Ungs followed with two perfect innings and Lee Gronkiewicz and Jeff Ridgway tossed shutout innings.

    The pitchers allowed just three total hits.

    "I finally got to see the rest of the pitching staff and they looked great," Johnson said. "All of the pitchers are pretty close. It's nice to have all of these options open for the second and third games."

    The U.S. will play exhibition games against Canada on Tuesday and Wednesday before leaving for the COPABE Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Cuba on Thursday.

    "The next two days are really gravy now as we prepare to go to Cuba," Johnson said. "I have a pretty good feeling about everybody on the club."

    Johnson believes the middle of the American lineup will be a feared group.

    "LaHair has been outstanding and so has Kinkade, and it's great to see Allen swing the bat the way he did today," Johnson said of his 3-4-5 hitters. "I know what these guys can do and what they've done the past few years. I'm just letting them play and letting them get comfortable."

    NOTES: OF Michael Bourn got the day off to rest a sore hamstring. ... The U.S. pitching staff committed no walks but only struck out one.