CNT: Conforto's big day leads Team USA to win
Conforto homers twice and drives in five
GENEVA, Ill. -- Oregon State's Michael Conforto went 2-for-5 with a pair of home runs and five RBIs to help the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team to a 16-2 victory over the Metro Collegiate Baseball League of Illinois All-Stars on Tuesday afternoon. Seven team members drove in a run in the game.
"Offensively, after the second inning, I thought our at-bats really improved," said manager Jim Schlossnagle (TCU). "We played good offense, got some bunts down, ran the bases really well. Cousino got the big hit-and-run to get us jump-started, and then our true ability showed through with some home runs. We didn't take big swings, we just stayed on the baseball and the ball happened to carry out of the ballpark. All in all, it's a good tuneup and everyone gets some confidence going into the Cuba series."
Making his summer debut, UNLV's Erick Fedde was impressive. The only base runner he allowed in three innings struck out but reached on a wild pitch to lead off the first inning. From there, Fedde retired nine straight. He finished his afternoon with five strikeouts.
"I thought Erick was outstanding today," remarked Schlossnagle. "He really gave us a lift; fresh arm, fresh face, great, great pace and good energy. You could tell he was really excited to be here, and that goes along way with USA Baseball. You want guys who want to be here, and he was in 100 percent."
Out of the bullpen, Team USA used four relievers over the final six innings. Tommy Thorpe (Oregon) allowed a pair of runs on three hits, walked two and fanned one in two innings. Daniel Mengden (Texas A&M) pitched two scoreless innings. Chris Diaz (Miami, Fla.) and Ryan Burr (Arizona State) each fanned two in their inning of work.
Matt Chapman (Cal State Fullerton) led off the third inning with a base hit. A double from Austin Cousino (Kentucky) followed to put two runners in scoring position with no one out. Trea Turner (NC State) broke the scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly to right. On the play, Cousino moved to third and scored on an Alex Bregman (LSU) groundout to make it a 2-0 game.
A one-out walk to Kevin Colburn in the top of the fourth inning helped the MCBL All-Stars get on the board. Daniel Delaney came through with a two-out double to the right-center-field gap to drive in the run, cutting the Team USA lead in half, 2-1.
Team USA answered in the bottom of the inning, launching a pair of home runs to open up a 5-1 advantage. Conforto hit a long home run to right field with one out. After a walk to Bradley Zimmer (San Francisco), Grayson Greiner (South Carolina) jumped on the first pitch he saw, driving it over the left-field fence for a two-run shot.
The MCBL All-Stars struck again with two outs in the fifth inning to push across their second run of the game. With one out, Sam Klein swiped second base. He was standing on third with two outs and scored easily on a base hit from Chase Matheson to make it a 5-2 ballgame.
Conforto drew a leadoff walk in the sixth. Back-to-back base hits from Zimmer and Greiner followed, loading the bases with no outs. Chapman drove in the first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly, and Turner grounded out to drive in his second run of the game for a 7-2 lead.
Two more runs crossed the plate in the seventh to push the lead to seven, 9-2. Bregman opened the inning with a double and scored on a double off the bat of Kyle Schwarber (Indiana) to make it an 8-2 game. Schwarber was standing on third with one out and scored on a ground out from Conforto.
Team USA put the game out of reach with a seven-run eighth inning. With one out, seven straight batters reached, and all seven scored to give the CNT a 16-2 lead. Cousino's second double of the game drove in the first run of the inning, and he scored on a base hit from Bregman. Schwarber singled home a pair of runs and scored on Conforto's second home run of the game, a three-run shot to right-center.
The Collegiate National Team (15-3) will travel to Iowa on Wednesday ahead of Thursday night's series-opening game against Cuba in Des Moines at Principal Park. NC State's Carlos Rodon will get the start in Game 1, which is slated to begin at 8:05 p.m. ET.
"Certainly, Cuba will be very physical and very talented. They are going to play really hard," said Schlossnagle. "It's interesting to have them on U.S. soil. It's a great thing for international baseball, and it's an honor to get to play them. We are going to go into the series with a mindset to be competitive and to win."
The pitching rotation will see Rodon start Game 1 in Des Moines. Starting for Team USA in the two games at Omaha's Werner Park will be Florida State's Luke Weaver and TCU's Brandon Finnegan. Game 4 will see UNLV's Erick Fedde get the start in Cary, N.C., and Rodon is scheduled to start Game 5 in Durham, N.C.