TEAM USA IMPROVES TO (3-0) WITH 8-5 WIN OVER CUBA

August 7, 2006

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  • BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela - In a rematch of last year's championship game, Team USA exacted a degree of revenge with an 8-5 win over Cuba.

    Brock Duke (5 IP, 2 R) earned the win in relief of Matt Purke who started (4 IP, 3 R, 1 ER) and was pulled in the fifth.

    Team USA received two hits apiece from four players - L.J. Hoes, Jaff Decker, Kyle Skipworth, and Tyler Rahmatulla who homered.

    Cuba jumped to a 1st inning lead of 2-0, triggered by Team USA's defensive miscues. Three errors were committed over the course of Cuba's first three at-bats - one per at-bat, challenging starter Matt Purke (Lufkin, TX) who was assessed with a pair of unearned runs. They combined for 5 errors, but were able to escape with the win. Errors by Tyler Rahmatulla (Mission Viejo, CA), L.J. Hoes (Mitchelville, MD) - a throwing error following a single, and Mychal Givens (Tampa, FL) opened the game. They were the first runs, albeit unearned, that Team USA had allowed in the tournament, after shutting out Brazil and Venezuela.

    The 3rd inning featured Team USA's turnaround. They picked up their first hit and run off starter Didier Ramos simultaneously; a 3rd inning home run from Tyler Rahmatulla to left-center, cutting the deficit to 2-1. Mychal Givens followed with a walk, and Matt Purke double to left-center was mishandled by the centerfielder, allowing Givens to score all the way from first, which locked the game at 2-2. A wild pitch advanced Purke to third, and L.J. Hoes proceeded to walk. Jaff Decker (Phoenix, AZ), with runners on the corners, pulled a single to right, scoring Purke, providing Team USA with a 3-2 lead. A pair of errors on the right-fielder pushed Hoes to third and Decker to second. Cuba's starter, Ramos, was chased, in relief of Pedro Corrales, after allowing the first five Team USA batters to reach base. Harold Martinez (Miami, FL) grounded out for the first out of the 3rd, and with first base open, D.J. Hicks (Altamonte Springs, FL) was intentionally walked, loading the bases for Max Stassi (Yuba City, CA). The strategy worked for Cuba, as Stassi hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

    In the meantime, after grinding through those defensive errors behind him in the 1st, Purke faced 11 straight batters without yielding a hit at one point, stretching from that inning until the 4th.

    In the home 4th, Team USA added a run, making it a 4-2 lead. Kyle Skipworth (Riverside, CA) led off with an infield single, and advanced to second on a Mychal Givens single to right two batters later. After Matt Purke struck out, L.J. Hoes singled home Skipworth for Team USA's 4th run. Following a double-steal executed by Givens and Hoes, Jaff Decker walked to fill the bases for Harold Martinez, who struck out swinging.

    Cuba struck in the 5th, chasing Purke from the game, scoring one run. Jean Trujillo opened with a four-pitch walk, followed by a Pedro Corrales single to right. Both runners advanced on a passed ball, and a Jorge Saldivar infield single scored Trujillo to cut Team USA's lead to 4-3. Purke was then pulled for Brock Duke (Salem, UT). A sacrifice bunt from Jose Iglesias advanced both runners, and with first base open, Duke intentionally walked Jorge Barcelan to load the bases with one out for Javier Camero. Nursing the one-run lead Camero struck out looking on a 3-2 curve from Duke. With two outs, Aledmys Diaz struck out on three pitches, and Duke preserved the lead.

    In the 6th inning, Cuba failed to capitalize on a Team USA error. With one out, Lazaro Medina reached second base on a Tyler Rahmatulla throwing error attempting to retire him at first. With two outs in the inning and Medina at third and pinch-runner Lazaro Valdes at second, Jorge Saldivar bounced out to Rahmatulla, short-circuiting the rally. Team USA maintained the 4-3 lead.

    In the home portion of the 6th Team USA scored four runs. L.J. Hoes tripled off the center field wall with one out, and was driven home by Jaff Decker's double off the left-center field wall, extended the Team USA lead to 5-3. Harold Martinez's single to left pushed Decker to third. D.J. Hicks then picked up his first hit of the tournament, burning the right field fence for an RBI single, scoring Decker to make it 6-3. After a Max Stassi pop out, Kyle Skipworth grounded a single to left, scoring Martinez for a 7-3 advantage. Tyler Rahmatulla, already having homered, singled to left, plating Hicks, pushing the gap to 8-3. Skipworth was thrown out at third on the play.

    Cuba earned a run back in the 7th, with a 2-out RBI double from (SS) Aledmys Diaz scoring Jorge Barcelan who walked off Brock Duke, cutting the margin to 8-4.

    In the 8th inning, Cuba added a run off Duke, when Lazaro Valdes, who had doubled to start the inning, scored on a Saldivar grounder, making it 8-5 Team USA.

    Cuba threatened in the 9th off Duke, after a two out walk and hit batsman, Lazaro Medino represented the potential tying run, struck out swinging to end the game.

    Head coach Gary LeFevers reflected on the comeback from a 1st inning deficit. "We did an outstanding job of dealing with adversity…we did not let the outside factors, the atmosphere, the environment, their emotion, affect our emotions - we focused on the white ball. I think in the 1st inning, if we would've made the plays, they would have been outstanding plays…but that's the kind of stuff that Cuba feeds on. They get you to let things domino on yourself. Rahmatulla's home run to get us on the board (in the 3rd), proved to our kids that they weren't invincible. They're not a monster - we're just focused on the white ball."

    Team USA will play Mexico at 2pm on August 8th, in their fourth game.

    Team CUBA……….200010110
    Team USA………....00310400

    WP: Duke (1-0)
    LP: Ramos (0-1)

    STANDINGS:

    USA..................3-0
    MEXICO...............3-0
    VENEZUELA............2-1
    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC...2-1
    CUBA.................1-2
    COLUMBIA.............1-2
    ARUBA................0-3
    BRAZIL...............0-3

    August 7th:

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC......9
    COLUMBIA......1