Team USA lost a back-and-forth, extra-innings thriller to Japan 8-7 on Thursday, giving Japan a three-games-to-two victory in the annual series between the two teams.
Team USA broke a 4-4 tie with three runs in the top of the ninth, a rally that started with back-to-back singles by Blake Forsythe (Tennessee) and Andy Wilkins (Arkansas). But Japan responded with three runs of its own in the bottom of the frame, highlighted by Masayoshi Kato’s two-run triple against Chad Bettis (Texas Tech).
The Americans came apart in the 11th, as reliever Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt) made an errant pickoff throw that advanced the winning runner to third base with two outs. Shortstop Christian Colon (Cal State Fullerton) then misplayed a ground ball to allow the winning run to score. It was Colon’s team-leading sixth error of the summer; no one else on the team has more than two.
Colon did play a big part in USA’s two victories in Japan, delievering four hits and five RBIs in the two games. Leadoff man Tyler Holt (Florida State) had five hits in the two games and is hitting a team-best .452. USA’s other hero in Japan was righthander Gerrit Cole (UCLA), who struck out nine while walking one and allowing two hits over seven shutout innings in a 3-0 win in the first game of the series.
Team USA still leads the all-time USA vs. Japan Collegiate Championships series 21-16 and has an all-time record against Japan of 117-93-1. But USA is just 45-67 all-time in Japan.
Next up for the collegiate national team is a trip to Prince George, British Columbia, Canada to compete in the Enbridge Northern Gateway World Baseball Challenge from July 18-26. Team USA will face off against Canada on Sunday.
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