AGUADULCE, Panama -- Team USA fell to 3-2 following a 7-5 loss to Netherlands (5-0), Friday, at the IBAF Baseball World Cup. The U.S. now faces a must-win scenario in its final two Group 1 games if it hopes to advance to Round 2.
Currently the U.S. is one game up on Puerto Rico (2-3) for fourth place in the group. The top four in Groups 1 and 2 advance to Round 2. Should Puerto Rico and Team USA finished tied at the end of pool play, Puerto Rico owns the tie-breaker with its 8-4 win over the U.S. in Game 1.
Seven runs off two big hits were the story for Netherlands, and while the U.S. was in the game until the final out, the deficit proved too great to overcome.
The Dutch struck first with a Curt Smith three-run homer in the opening frame. A Tuffy Gosewisch RBI single in the second made it a 3-1 game, but in the third, following a walk, hit and walk to load the bases for Netherlands, Jonathan Schoop slapped a triple to right to clear the bags. USA second baseman Joe Thurston sailed his throw to third in attempt to catch Schoop, but the ball went over Tommy Mendonca's head, plating Schoop and pushing the score to 7-1.
Despite the error, Thurston was stellar at the plate, going 4-for-4 with two RBIs. A.J. Pollock continued his hot hitting as well, with a home run and two RBIs on a 2-for-5 night.
U.S. starter Matt Shoemaker (0-1) was roughed up in his debut for the red, white and blue. The righty allowed seven runs in three innings pitched, while walking three and striking out two. From the fourth inning on, however, Justin Cassel, Jeff Beliveau and Scott Patterson combined to only allow one hit and walk to help keep the Americans in the game.
Team USA takes on host nation Panama (5-0), Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. ET, in Panama City at Rod Carew Stadium. It then concludes Pool 1 play with a 3 p.m. ET game against Canada (4-1).
As Internet is available, live scoring for all U.S. games will be available at USABaseball.com, the online home for USA Baseball. Please visit the site for schedule and roster information, tournament updates and more. Live updates can also be found on Twitter at @USABaseball. Overall tournament information can be found here.
NOTES: Joe Thurston's two-run single in the seventh pushed him to six RBIs for the tournament, good for the team lead...his four hits Friday were good for a tie for second-most all-time for a U.S. player in the World Cup...Matt Shoemaker made his Team USA debut Friday night...he was the only member of the club that had yet to appear in a 2011 World Cup game...Justin Cassel's three-inning relief outing was the longest such appearance for a U.S. reliever thus far...Cassel was stellar, going three scoreless, allowing one hit while striking out five... U.S. relief pitchers (Cassel, Jeff Beliveau, Scott Patterson) combined for six innings of shutout baseball, allowing only one hit and one walk, with 11 strikeouts...Netherlands is currently the No. 6 team in the world according to the most recent IBAF rankings...the U.S. is No. 2...Pollock's third inning home run was his second of the tournament, tying him for first on the team with Matt Clark...Team USA last faced the Dutch in the final game of Round 2 play in the 2009 World Cup...the U.S. won, 8-3, punching its ticket for the gold medal final the following day...Prior to Friday night's game, a USA Baseball Professional Team had never lost to Netherlands in international competition.