18U trials: USA overpowers Dodgers
Biggio, Okey and Unroe lead charge with two RBIs each
VIDEO: Brosius and Unroe post game
LOS ANGELES - Playing its first exhibition game as a 27-man roster, the 18U National Trials Team used outstanding pitching and timely extra-base hits to take care of the Los Angeles Dodgers Scout Team, 11-2, at Dodger Stadium. The trio of Cavan Biggio, Chris Okey and Riley Unroe each had two-RBI extra-base hits to pace the offense.
"(The team) responded well tonight," said manager Scott Brosius. "With a travel day yesterday and then with a BP practice and another practice this morning, we had some hours on the field. I think we come out with a lot of energy and a lot of life."
The scoring got started in the top of the third inning for the Red, White and Blue. After Ryan Boldt walked and stole both second and third, Bryson Brigman walked and stole second bringing up Biggio. The left-handed hitting first baseman crushed the first pitch he saw to the right field wall scoring both runs and putting USA up 2-0. Biggio finished the night 1-for-1 with a walk.
USA tacked on five more in the top of the fourth. Unroe, a speedster from Mesa, Ariz., drove a two-RBI triple by a diving Lucas Jacobi, and then came around to score when Brigman reached on an error by the third baseman.
"I struck out the at-bat before, so I knew that wasn't happening again," said Unroe. "I geared up for my pitch, got it, and took advantage of it." Take advantage indeed, as Unroe finished his night 3-for-4 with a single, double and triple.
Later in the fourth, Jeremy Martinez drew a bases loaded walk to score Boldt from second, and then Brigman came across on a passed ball to push the lead to 7-0.
Unroe and fellow outfielder, Willie Abreu, each notched 3-for-4 performances, providing six of Team USA's 10 hits in the contest. Martinez and infielder Dom Nunez each recorded an RBI without the benefit of a hit.
Also providing an offensive punch, Chris Okey entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and made his presence known. The catcher drove a 1-2 pitch off the left field wall for a two-RBI double, pushing the lead to 9-0. The double drove in Boldt--scoring his third run of the game--and fellow pinch-hitter Reese McGuire who singled ahead of Okey.
But, it was pitching that was the story early for USA. Ian Clarkin, Billy Roth and Dominic Taccolini each worked a pair of scoreless innings to keep the Dodgers Scout Team at bay. Roth put hitters away with authority, striking out four batters in his two innings, while Taccolini used exceptional command to set down the Dodger lineup, throwing 76% strikes.
Reliever John Kilichowski continued the trend on the mound for USA, retiring all six Dodgers he faced-four on strikeouts. The lefty from Tampa, Fla., fired 71% strikes in an impressive appearance, setting down the side in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Dodgers put pressure on Team USA in the bottom of the first when Clarkin, the starter, issued a walk to leadoff batter Derek Hill, who stole second on the next pitch. Hill would eventually make his way to third with one out, before a great on-the-run snag by Riley Unroe and a ground out to the second baseman kept the Dodgers off the board. Clarkin would leave the game after his two scheduled innings with the score knotted 0-0, but would get the win after the offense struck in the top of the third.
Unroe made another spectacular catch in the seventh inning. Running to his right, the left fielder made the catch down the foul line at a full sprint, but collected himself and fired the ball into the infield to double off the runner at first base.
"I was full speed for that ball and I knew it was probably going to hit the line," commented Unroe. "I was just thinking there is no way I'm letting it go by me, so I just ran as hard as I could and made the catch."
The Dodgers would finally get on the board in the bottom of the ninth inning by virtue of a bases loaded balk by reliever Logan Shore. After a strike out, Luke Persico singled up the middle, adding a second run to the Dodgers' total. Shore would eventually find his rhythm, striking out the final two batters of the inning and minimizing the damage.
Shore would be followed out of the bullpen by righty Connor Heady who pitched around a leadoff walk with back-to-back strikeouts and a fly out to center to end the game.
Dodgers reliever Rio Gomez was hit with the loss after allowing seven runs in an inning and two-thirds.
The National Team Trials continue on Sunday with a practice and exhibition game at Goodwin Field on the campus of California State University, Fullerton. Practice will be in the morning, while first pitch for the exhibition game is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern Time (5 p.m. local). Check www.USABaseball.com or follow @USABaseball18U on Twitter for more information.