HAARLEM - Behind 6.1 strong innings from former Major League pitcher Juan Padilla, Puerto Rico handed the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team its first loss in Honkbal Week, 3-2, on Tuesday afternoon at Pim Mulier Stadium.
"I hope this is a wake-up call to our team," Team USA manager Dave Serrano said. "We can't just out there with the USA jersey on and expect to win. Puerto Rico wanted the game more than we did today and they deserve the victory. You have to tip your cap to them."
A former relief pitcher with the New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets, Padilla allowed two runs on six hits while striking out three to earn the win. Four other pitchers then came out of the Puerto Rico bullpen, combining to yield just one hit over the final 2.2 innings.
"Juan Padilla pitched like a guy who has big league experience," Serrano said. "He pitched with savvy, kept us off balance and we hit like an immature team today. We let him pitch his game and we didn't get very many good swings off a guy whose stuff is obviously not what it was when he pitched in the big leagues."
Team USA starting pitcher Ryne Stanek (Arkansas) was solid in a losing effort, striking out five and allowing three runs on three hits and two walks over five innings of work. David Berg (UCLA) and Trevor Williams (Arizona State) tossed three scoreless frames between them to finish out the game.
Jose Trevino (Oral Roberts) continued his hot streak at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. He is now hitting an even .500 (5-for-10) with two RBIs and a double over the first three games in Haarlem.
The U.S. opened the scoring in the top of the second as Michael Conforto (Oregon State) pulled a leadoff double down the first-base line, moved to third on a flyball to right and then came in to score on a single by Trevino.
After a scoreless third, Puerto Rico grabbed the lead in the home half of the fourth when Jorge Jimenez hit a two-out, two-run home run to right to put his squad up, 2-1.
Although Team USA tied the game at 2-2 on a sacrifice fly by D.J. Peterson (New Mexico) in the top of the sixth, Puerto Rico got the run right back to retake the lead in the very next frame thanks to a wild pitch with a runner at third.
The home team used a pair of walks and a groundout to put runners on the corners before ball four to Jimenez bounced to the backstop and allowed the eventual game-winning run to cross the plate.
Team USA threatened to bring the game back to a deadlock in the seventh, using singles by Trevino and pinch-hitter Marco Gonzales (Gonzaga) to put runners on the corners with one out and knock Padilla out of the game. Relief pitcher Benigno Cepeda escaped the jam, however, inducing an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Down to its final three outs in the ninth, the Red, White and Blue put the tying run on base once again as Trevino dropped a broken-bat single into left for his third hit of the game to lead off the frame. The next batter got a bunt down but Puerto Rico was able to force Trevino out at second before turning another 4-6-3 double play just seconds later to end the game.
Team USA will close out pool play with games against Chinese Taipei on Wednesday and the Netherlands on Thursday before beginning medal-round games on Friday, July 20.