Three of the top pitchers available for the 2008 draft have left Team USA, leaving the college national team without three of its top four starting pitchers as it prepares for the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands.
Righthanders Jacob Thompson (Virginia), Lance Lynn (Mississippi) and lefthander Brian Matusz (San Diego) left the team to avoid heavy workloads, according to a Team USA release. Thompson, a first-team All-American for the Cavaliers this spring, threw 21 innings for Team USA, bringing him to 135 for the year. Matusz, a second-team All-American for the Toreros, had 143 combined innings on the year, and leaves as the Americans’ second-leading winner at 3-1, 1.33. Thompson, who pitched the gold-medal game against Cuba and took a loss in the Pan American Games last week, went 1-2, 1.27 this summer. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Lynn was leading Team USA in innings pitched (25) but still had reached just 110 for the season. Lynn apparently had aggravated a groin issue he had during the spring.
National team director Eric Campbell said Matusz and Thompson were not injured, but had some “nagging stuff” and had consulted with their college coaches about their workloads. “It’s their decision, and I respect it,” Campbell said.
Their departures are another blow to a disappointing summer for the college national team, which lost 2-1 Wednesday against China after winning the first two games of that five-game series. Team USA already failed to win the Japan Series, its first-ever series loss to Japan on American soil, and won silver at the Pan Ams in Rio de Janeiro. Now three of the team’s five starters are leaving the team early.
“We really did compete well (in the Pan Ams),” Campbell said. “It was a temporary field, really a makeshift facility, and our schedule got pretty scrambled. For example, the grounds crew had no tarp, no drying agent . . . their equipment was basically five handmade wood rakes. The volunteers’ effort was outstanding and the people in Rio were wonderful, but it was a difficult situation. I was proud of how our kids handled it.”
To replace the trio, Team USA has added lefthander Eric Surkamp (N.C. State), righthander Scott Gorgen (UC Irvine) and 6-foot-2, 190-pound lefthander/outfielder Tyler Stovall of Hokes Bluff (Ala.) High. Stovall already was invited to join the junior national team, and geography was on his side, as he will be with the team for the rest of its series with China. Surkamp and Gorgen, a third-team All-American, will join holdovers Mike Minor (Vanderbilt) and Tyson Ross (California) in the American rotation in the Netherlands.
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