August 22, 2006
by Brant Parsons / Special to

  • Box Score   |  Scoreboard/Results
  • KISSIMMEE - After three seemingly easy wins for the United States baseball team against Puerto Rico, Team USA got a tough challenge on Tuesday, squeaking past Canada 4-2 in an exhibition game at Osceola County Stadium.

    The U.S. needed timely pitching and key defensive stops to overcome a Canadian team that outhit the Americans 8 to 6.

    Twice in the game, Canada placed runners on second and third with nobody out but failed to score a run each time.

    With the game tied at 1-1 in the third, starting pitcher Zack Segovia got three consecutive outs to stifle the Canadian attack and kept the score deadlocked.

    The second time the Canadians found themselves with two in scoring position and none out was in the ninth inning when Matt Rogelstad led off with a single and was followed by Emerson Frostad's double.

    Henry Owens, making his first appearance for Team USA, then settled down, striking out the next two batters before getting Mike Saunders to fly out to end the ball game.

    "I just tried to stay aggressive," Owens said. "They had a couple good swings but I didn't change my approach."

    "It was a tough situation I got myself into, but I had the chance to show my teammates and coaches that I won't back down."

    Owens' performance was typical of Team USA's pitching throughout the game, bending but never completely breaking. Segovia, Greg Smith, J. Brent Cox, Jeff Farnsworth and Owens combined for ten strikeouts while allowing only two runs on eight hits.

    Along with clutch pitching, the U.S. defense also came through when needed. Another Canadian scoring chance was stopped in the sixth inning by shortstop Brandon Wood who made the defensive play of the day.

    With runners on second and third and the United States clinging to a 3-1 lead, Frostad hit a screaming line drive that Wood snagged with a leaping catch to end the inning.

    "Brandon will be in the big leagues soon," United States manager Davey Johnson said of his shorstop. "He's a gamer and a good defensive player who also has a lot of sting in his bat."

    Wood, who plays in the Angels' farm system, produced the second run of the game with his bat when he homered to left field in the third inning. His blast was preceded in the second by rightfielder Chad Allen's solo shot to deep left centerfield.

    Team USA also got RBIs from Mike Kinkade and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

    "Everybody is going out and expressing their talent and working to be part of this team," Johnson said. "There's a lot of good guys out there and they're coming together rather rapidly which is amazing considering they are all from different organizations."

    The team has one more game against Canada on Wednesday before departing for the COPABE Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Cuba on Thursday.

    With the starting positions pretty much set for the tournament, Wednesday's final exhibition will allow the players one more chance to work together before heading to Cuba.

    "We know where we want to go now and the lineup you saw today is the one we are pretty comfortable with heading into the tournament," Johnson said.

    NOTES: Heath Phillips is expected to get the starting nod in the opening game of the tournament for Team USA.