Team USA advances to the finals
The U.S. will face the winner of El Salvador and Guatemala
Nolan Rogers (Bloomington, Ind.) got the nod on the hill Friday for the U.S. and started off very strong in the first inning. Rogers forced a groundout to second, picked up a strikeout and grounded a slow roller on the third base line for the final out of the inning keeping Mexico off base and bringing the stout U.S. offensive to the plate.
C.J. Hinojosa (Spring, Texas) started the U.S. offensive as he picked up a double to right-centerfield with one out. Albert Almora (Hialeah, Fla.) then came up and hit the first ball he saw the exact same spot for his thirteenth RBI of the tournament putting Team USA on the board 1-0.
With runners on the corners Chris Chinea (Miami, Fla.) hit a sacrifice fly to left field to bring in Almora for the final run of the inning as Brandon Viceral (Pleasanton, Calif.) struck out looking to end the first with the U.S. holding a 2-0 lead.
Rogers found himself in a jam in the second inning. After striking the first batter faced he surrendered a base hit to center and hit the next batter to put runners on first and second. A fielder's choice to third baseman Cody Poteet put runners on the corners with two outs but Mexico was not able to capitalize. The runner on first stuttered in his attempt to steal second base, hoping to draw the throw from Chinea and score the runner from third and but Chinea wasted little time as he threw out the runner and ended their second inning threat.
After an Almora single and a steal got the third inning started, Connor Martin (San Jose, Calif.) hit an RBI single to bring in Almora. And after Chinea walked, Viceral legged out an RBI double up the middle to put the lead at 4-0.
Jonny Locher (Burien, Wash.) stepped in with the bases loaded soon after and perfectly placed a ball down the right-field line that cleared the bases for a triple and extended the U.S. lead to 7-0.
A single by Adrian Marin (Miami, Fla.) and an error by the shortstop added two more tallies to the U.S. scoreboard as it finished the third inning leading 9-0.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, Chris Chinea launched a ball to left-field for a solo-home run. Immediately following the home run Joe Dudek (Wall Township, N.J.) was walked, David Petrino (Springdale, Ark.) was hit by a pitch and Rio Ruiz (Covina, Calif.) walked to load the bases. After Marin walked in a run, Bryant Hodge (Moore, Okla.) hit an inside the park home run to clear the bases and end the game at 15-0.
Nolan Rogers (1-0) picked up the win with his 3.0 innings pitched. Rogers tallied two strikeouts and no walks while only allowing one hit. Rio Ruiz made an appearance on the hill as his one inning of relief kept Mexico scoreless.
With the win the U.S. has now won 20 consecutive international matches and has outscored their opponents 91-1 in the 2008 COPABE Pan Am "A" Qualifier.
Team USA will play for the Gold on Saturday at 2:00pm (CT) against the winner of the El Salvador/Guatemala matchup slated for 7pm Friday evening.