CNT rallies against Japan, wins 7-6
Second game of the series is Monday at 6:05 p.m.
Overall, Team USA overcame a five-run deficit, chipping away at the lead with a run in the fifth and then took advantage of two Japan errors in the seventh for the come-from-behind victory.
Marcus Stroman (Duke) picked up his third save of the summer after coming on in the eighth, shutting the door on a Japan rally, forcing a strikeout and groundout that stranded the winning run at second. He worked a perfect ninth to preserve the win.
Dominic Ficociello (Arkansas) drove in two on a single to right in the seventh to tie the game, 6-6. He scored what amounted to the game-winning run on a single by Chris Elder (Oral Roberts) to score from frist. The ball skipped past the center fielder, enabling Elder to move to third, where he was stranded to end the inning.
Deven Marrero (Arizona State) drove in the first run of the inning on a double down the right field line, then advanced to third when Nolan Fontana (Florida) scored on a liner to left that was dropped by the left fielder. That led to Ficociello's game-tying single later on the inning.
Down, 1-0, Japan took the lead in the fifth, and gave itself cushion, scoring six runs in the frame. Hotaka Yamakawa hit the first pitch he saw from Team USA starter Mark Appel (Stanford) over the left-center fence for a grand slam and at the time, a five-run lead.
That, however, was the only inning Japan was able to score as Team USA kept the club off the scoreboard the rest of the game.
Appel started and was touched for six runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. He gave up five hits while striking out seven and walking two.
Appel's counterpart, Yusuke Nomura, worked five innings. He struck out three, walked two and allowed two runs on three hits.
Tomoyuki Sugano took the loss after allowing two hits and a run in 1 2/3 innings of relief. Andrew Mitchell (Texas Christian), meanwhile, improved to 2-0 after an inning of relief. He walked one and struck out three in the seventh inning.
Marrero and Elder paced Team USA with two hits apiece. Marrero drove in two, with the first coming in the fifth on a single.
Team USA and Japan continue the series Monday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. ET. Kevin Gausman (LSU) gets the start for Team USA.
USA NOTES: The Collegiate National Team set its roster after Saturday night's game ... To set the roster at 22, Matt Boyd (Oregon State), Eric Anderson (Missouri) and Ryne Stanek (Arkansas) were let go ... The first pitch from Team USA starter Mark Appel was clocked at 96 mph ... Two pitchers later, he was clocked at 97 mph ... Team USA is scheduled to take batting practice at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park at approximately 3:15 p.m. prior to Monday's 6 p.m. first pitch.