U.S. outlasts Venezuela, 6-3, in 12
Pacheco's 2-run double in 12th highlights 4-run inning
The wild 12th inning was highlighted by a two-run double from catcher Jordan Pacheco. Per the international tie-breaker rule, originally established in 2008 prior to the Olympic Games, each team starts the inning anywhere in the lineup it chooses. It then places runners on first and second base, and the next batter in the order comes to the plate with no outs. U.S. manager Ernie Young began the inning with his eight and nine hitters - Brian Barden and Chase d'Arnaud, respectively - at second and first, and Mike Trout at-bat. Trout reached on a fielder's choice and Barden was called safe at third on a close play. With the bases loaded, Pacheco hit a double to left, scoring Barden and d'Arnaud. The U.S. wasn't done, however, as Mike Moustakas was intentionally walked to load the bases. After a Brad Eldred flyout, Eric Hosmer hit a grounder to Venezuelan first baseman Javier Colina. He stepped on first to retire Hosmer, but on his throw home to get Trout, the ball went well wide of the catcher, scoring not only the 19-year-old Angels prospect, but also Pacheco who came around from second. Two batters later, Cord Phelps grounded out to end the inning, but not before the U.S. had extended its lead to 6-2.
In the Venezuela half of the inning, it too loaded the bases after Nick Hill hit the leadoff man. Justin De Fratus then came in for Hill, and he retired the next three batters in order to end the game, allowing only one of the inherited runners to score. Hill and De Fratus joined fellow relievers Andre Lamontagne, Anthony Carter and Bruce Billings to stymie Venezuela, hurling eight innings of one-run (unearned, extra-inning), three-hit, no-walk and eight-strikeout baseball. The four pitchers entered in relief of starter Everett Teaford, who allowed two earned runs in four innings, walking two and striking out three. Hill (2-0) earned the win for the U.S. and De Fratus garnered Team USA's first save of the tournament.
Trout led off the game with a solo blast to center, and Cord Phelps plated Todd Frazier on an RBI-triple in the fourth inning for the U.S. team's first two runs. Phelps and Brian Barden led the U.S. team with two hits apiece. Saturday marked the second game in a row that Phelps either lead or tied for the U.S. team lead with two hits.
Team USA next faces Canada (4-3, 2-3) at 2:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. Monday marks the final pool play game for the U.S. when it takes on Cuba at 7:30 p.m. EDT at Paquito Montaner Stadium in Ponce.
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FORMIDABLE OPPONENT: Team USA faced off against Venezuela today. Venezuela, the IBAF 9th ranked team in the world, is the last team to beat Team USA at the professional level when it outlasted the U.S., 13-9, in 11 innings on September 10, 2009 at the IBAF World Cup in Regensburg, Germany. Since then, Team USA professional teams have won 21 straight games in tournament play.
ANDRE THE GIANT: Milwaukee Brewers prospect Andre Lamontagne pitched three shutout innings in relief for Team USA. Lamontagne yielded just two hits while striking out four for the red, white and blue. Andre pitched at the Double-A level in Huntsville for the Brewers in 2009.
TROUT POWER: Mike Trout led off the game today for Team USA with his second home run of the tournament. Trout's homer was a blast to centerfield that traveled approximately 415 feet. Trout, 19, hit 10 homers this season during stints in the Angels' High and Low-A affiliates.
RAINING K's: After a two-hour and two-minute rain delay, Team USA and Venezuela pitchers combined for 24 strikeouts with Venezuela striking out 13 U.S. hitters and the U.S. fanning 11.
TIEBREAKER RULE IN EFFECT: The international extra-inning tie-breaker rule, which was established by the IBAF in 2008, was put into play in the 12th inning of today's game. The rule has each team start its half of the inning at any point in their lineup and with runners on first and second base. In the top half of the 12th, Team USA scored four runs, two coming on a Jordan Pacheco double, while Venezuela plated one in its half.
SATURDAY'S OTHER ACTION:
Canada 9, Panama 5
4 p.m. - Cuba vs. Dominican Republic
7:30 p.m. - Nicaragua vs. Puerto Rico