The U.S. wins battle of the unbeaten
Team USA is the number one seed heading into the semis
The U.S. (4-0) jumped on El Salvador (3-1) right out of the gate as C.J. Hinojosa (Spring, Texas) got on board via walk and Albert Almora launched his second home run of the tournament, again out of the stadium to take a 2-0 lead early.
Brandon Viceral (Pleasanton, Calif.) and Connor Martin (San Jose, Calif.) then drew back-to-back walks with a powerful Jeremy Martinez (Fountain Valley, Calif.) up to bat. Martinez then laced a ball to the alley in right-center field for a 2 RBI triple.
Anthony Alford (Columbia, Miss.) picked up his first hit of the tournament with a triple to left center to cap the scoring in the first inning for the U.S. as they grabbed an early 5-0 lead over El Salvador.
Starting pitcher, Joe Dudek (Wall Township, N.J.) faced some adversity in the second as he surrendered a single to right field. An errant pick off attempt moved the runner to third with no outs putting the first real threat on the U.S. in the tournament. But Dudek bailed himself out like a professional as he struck out the side on only 10 pitches; diminishing any threat for El Salvador in the second inning.
Hinojosa kept his hot hitting going as he started the second with a triple to left center, Rio Ruiz would come up with one out and bring him in as his ground out to second base scored Hinojosa and put Team USA up another run at 6-0.
This would be the only run scored for Team USA in the second however as Viceral was thrown out at third base for the third out of the inning.
Martinez drew a walk and moved to second on the passed ball to start of the third causing El Salvador to go to their bull pen. With the new pitcher in, Alford flew out to center field for the first out but moved Martinez over to third. Dudek helped out his own cause as his RBI double to left scored Martinez and extended the lead to 7.
Hinojosa laced a ball to right field to score Dudek and Almora connected for a double to left to put the U.S. up 9-0. Rio Ruiz placed a ball down the left field line to bring in Alford for the final run of the inning as the U.S. held a 10-run cushion going into the fourth.
The U.S. surrendered their first run of the tournament in the top of the fourth inning. El Salvador picked up a base-hit through the right side but a fielding error by Almora left Connor Martin attempting to throw out the runner at third. But the throw went wide and El Salvador got on the board. Dudek and the U.S. defense struggled some in this inning as the bases were loaded with two outs, but Dudek picked up his ninth strikeout to end the inning with the score at 10-1.
Picking up two more insurance runs in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of a 2 RBI double to Adrian Marin (Miami, Fla.), Jonny Locher (Burien, Wash.) came on in relief of Dudek in the top of the fifth inning to close out the game. After tallying two strikeouts and giving up a base hit and an error by the second baseman, the defense was finally able to close out the game with a routine ball to second baseman David Petrino (Springdale, Ark.).
Dudek (1-0) picked up the win as he went four full innings allowing two hits and tallying 9 strikeouts. Dudek allowed one unearned run.
The U.S. will have a day off tomorrow before the semi-finals begin. It will play the loser of the Mexico/Guatemala game set for 7pm tonight.
Team USA will play in the semi-finals at 3pm on Friday, December 5, 2008 at the Enrique "Trapo" Torrebiarte Stadium.