CNT: Team USA-Chinese Taipei tie in series opener
Justin Garza fires 4.2 strong innings of relief, striking out six
CARY, N.C. -- A 10th-inning played under international tiebreaker rules wasn't enough to decide Tuesday's series-opening contest between the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and Chinese Taipei as the two squads tied 5-5 at Coleman Field at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
"That was a really good game against a solid team," Team USA manager Dave Van Horn (Arkansas) said. "Chinese Taipei does a really good job offensively of making contact and putting pressure on you. They took advantage of walks and when they got a chance to score, they scored. I think this will be a great series. They have a good mix of players with right and left-handed hitters and speed and their pitchers come at you from all different angles. They are a solid team that will make us beat them, they won't give us much.
"I thought our pitching did a great job of holding their hitters down and giving us an opportunity to come back and tie the game late. We have to do a better job of making contact, advancing runners and doing the little things though. That's probably the most frustrating thing. We left a lot of runners on base and just by making contact and doing the little things we probably could have built up a pretty good lead."
Both teams scored one run in the extra frame after playing the first nine innings to a 4-4 deadlock. Chinese Taipei (0-0-1) plated its run on a bases-loaded walk while the U.S. (6-1-1) got a game-tying RBI single from DJ Stewart (Florida State).
Stewart was one of four U.S. hitters with a pair of hits on the evening. He was joined by Mark Mathias (Cal Poly), Christin Stewart (Tennessee) and Bryan Reynolds (Vanderbilt) as Team USA recorded a total of 10 hits in the contest.
Justin Garza (Cal State Fullerton) came out of the bullpen to give the U.S. 4.2 strong innings of relief, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out six. Dillon Tate (UCSB) added a scoreless ninth inning as well, working out of a bases-loaded, no outs jam.
For Chinese Taipei, Tzu Hong Chen was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs while Yi Chih Huang pitched 4.0 scoreless innings, yielding two hits and striking out two.
The U.S. wasted little time jumping out to a quick lead, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning on four hits while sending eight batters to the plate.
Team USA used a pair of hit batters and a Chinese Taipei error to load the bases with nobody out but a groundout and 5-4-3 double play kept the score tied at 3-3. Alex Bregman (LSU), Tate Matheny (Missouri State) and Reynolds drove in runs with RBI singles in the stanza.
Chinese Taipei responded two innings later, however, taking advantage of two walks and getting three RBI base hits of its own to knot the score back up at 3-3.
The U.S. had an opportunity to move back out in front in the bottom of the fourth when a pair of hit batters and an error on a sac bunt attempt loaded the bases with nobody out. It couldn't cash in though as a groundout and a 5-4-3 double play ended the inning and kept the score deadlocked.
Chinese Taipei broke the tie in the top of the eighth when Tzu Hong Chen laced a two-out double down the left-field line and came home to score seconds later on a single back up the box by Po Jun Wang.
The U.S. quickly brought it back to even in the home half of the inning. With runners on the corners and two outs, an error by the Chinese Taipei third baseman allowed the tying run to score.
In the top of the ninth, Team USA returned the favor from the fourth as it worked out of a bases-loaded, no outs situation of its own. With Tate on the mound, a nice play by catcher Chris Okey (Clemson) to get the force at home on a slow roller in front of the plate, a strikeout and a pop-up to first kept the score tied at 4-4. A 1-2-3 inning at the plate by the U.S. would then set the game up for the extra inning.
The Collegiate National Team continues its series against Chinese Taipei at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C. The two squads will square off in game three on July 3 at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, N.C., and again on July 4 and 5 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C.