WOOD PUSHES TEAM USA TO WITHIN ONE WIN OF 2008 OLYMPICS, 5-2
September 2, 2006

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  • Team USA rallied from an early two-run deficit on the strength of Zack Segovia's pitching and Brandon Wood's timely hitting to surge past Nicaragua, 5-2, at the 2006 Americas Olympic Qualifying Event in San Jose, Cuba on Saturday night.

    With the victory, Team USA moves within one victory of clinching a spot in the baseball competition at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The United States failed to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens after winning the gold under the tutelage of manager Tommy Lasorda at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

    Segovia, a pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies system, settled down after allowing a run in each of the first two innings as he retired 12 straight Nicaraguan batters until a sixth-inning single by Henry Roa broke the string. The 23-year-old right-hander escaped further trouble and left the game trailing 2-1.

    Wood, one of the top positional prospects in baseball, made Segovia a winner after he blasted a 1-0 pitch from Nicaraguan starter Franklyn Sanchez over the left field fence for a three-run homer, scoring Billy Butler, who walked, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who singled. Team USA led 4-2 and never looked back as Wood broke out of a tournament-long slump in which he was 2-for-25.

    Reliever J. Brent Cox replaced Segovia in the seventh and recorded a pair of scoreless innings before giving way to Henry Owens, who worked the ninth for his second save of the tournament.

    Wood got Team USA on the board in the third after he walked to lead off the inning and then eventually came around to score on an RBI single by Skip Schumaker. Catcher Kurt Suzuki iced the victory when he laced a two-out RBI single to right-center in the eighth, plating Bryan LaHair, who led off the inning with a double.

    Team USA is scheduled to play Panama on Sunday at 8 pm at Nelson Fernandez Stadium and can clinch an Olympic berth with a victory. Panama has lost consecutive games to Canada and Venezuela in the second round after posting a 4-1 mark in pool play. The Panamanians only loss in pool play was to Cuba in a game where they squandered a 5-2 lead in a 7-6 loss to the host country.

    NOTES: Every starter in the Team USA lineup had at least one hit except Mike Kinkade. ... Michael Bourn stole a base, just the second by Team USA in the tournament. He was 45-for-50 in stolen base attempt between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2006. ... Saturday was the first tournament game in which Schumaker did not score a run. ... Team USA hitters have drawn 48 walks in the tournament. ... Team USA pitchers have a strikeout-walk ratio of 54/15 in the tournament. ... Cuba (7-0) is the only unbeaten team left after defeating Canada 9-0 on Saturday. ... Cuban pitchers have a combined ERA under 1.50 heading into a Sunday matchup against Mexico (6-1). ... Cuban hurler Adiel Palma Lopez has 23 strikeouts in 12 2/3 IP.