18U trials: USA drops game to SoCal, 5-4
Early deficit too much to overcome in loss
FULLERTON, Calif. - The USA Baseball 18U National Trials Team found themselves in a 3-0 hole before its first at-bat, and they were not able to overcome the deficit as they fell to the Southern California 17U NTIS team at Goodwin Field in Fullerton, Calif.
The Southern California NTIS team, which will be competing in the National Team Identification Series at USA Baseball's National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Aug. 24-26, got to USA starter Brady Aiken in the first. Aiken induced a ground ball out on the first pitch of the game, issued a free pass to the next hitter, and a single to three-hole hitter Christian Donahue. Both base runners would score on Jonah Arenado's double to left. Michael Hickman, who reached base by virtue of a hit-by-pitch, also scored on the bases clearing double.
Aiken would silence the SoCal bats in the second, setting the side down 1-2-3. The southpaw took the loss, finishing the night allowing three runs on two hits while striking out three and walking just one.
USA got a run back in the bottom of the second. A bad read by the left fielder led to a triple by Garrett Williams, and the Shreveport, La. product would score on Andy McGuire's single to left field, cutting the SoCal lead to two.
Down 3-1, USA went to the bullpen and called in lefty Ian Clarkin. He was on his game in the third, striking out the first two batters he faced and inducing a ground out for a 10-pitch 1-2-3 inning.
SoCal was able to get to Clarkin in the fourth, when Shane Mardirosian singled with two outs, and scored when Steven Lohr doubled to deep left-center to push the lead to 4-1.
The Red, White and Blue got one back in the bottom of the fifth. Chris Okey was hit by a pitch to leadoff the frame and advanced to second and third on consecutive wild pitches. Teammate Drew Ward drove in Okey with a ground ball to shortstop, cutting the lead back to two.
Arenado would push the lead back to three when he hit the first pitch from Joe DeMers over the left field fence. The blast was the first home run for any team during USA's west coast trials exhibition schedule.
USA started its comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning. Reese McGuire and Bryson Brigman both singled to start the rally. When Dom Nunez hit a fly ball to right, McGuire tagged up, but an errant throw allowed the Washington native to round third and score on the play. On the very next pitch, Ryan Boldt singled to left, scoring Brigman and cutting the lead to 5-4.
A 1-2-3 inning by reliever Dominic Taccolini kept the momentum on Team USA's side, and Cavan Biggio carried it into his at-bat. The left-handed hitter drew a walk, stole second and advanced to third on an error. However, SoCal pitcher Max Gibbs stranded him at third to keep the lead at 5-4.
Taccolini continued to dominate the SoCal hitters in the ninth, going 1-2-3 on just six pitches. The righty retired the side on three consecutive ground balls. But, the USA would not get another good scoring opportunity as Gibbs set down the final six batters in order to pick up the save for SoCal.
The trials team will cut its roster this evening to 20 and officially become the 2012 USA Baseball 18U National Team that will represent the United States in the IBAF 18U/AAA World Championships in Seoul, South Korea.
The National Team will play its first game tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. ET at Goodwin Field on the campus of California State University, Fullerton.