USA Baseball's collegiate national team is heading to its fourth straight gold-medal game at the V FISU World University Baseball Championships. Team USA beat host Japan in Tokyo, 4-2, in Thursday's semifinal to earn a showdown against Cuba for the gold on Saturday.
Righthander Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt) continued his tour de force summer, earning his third win with seven strong innings. He allowed his first two runs of the summer—one earned—in the first two innings, but he shut out Japan for the next five innings. He allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out six, improving to 3-0, 0.38 with a 37-4 strikeout-walk ratio in 24 innings this summer.
Outfielder George Springer (Connecticut) provided all of Team USA's offense with a first-inning grand slam. Springer leads the national team with 17 RBIs on the summer.
Righty Noe Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton) struck out three over two hitless, scoreless innings to record his fifth save.
Now Team USA will go for its fourth straight FISU championship; it won the event in 2004, '06 and '08. It won't be easy—perennial power Cuba is coming off an 11-1 win against Korea in the semifinals. Like Team USA, Cuba went 3-0 in pool play and stayed unbeaten in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Cuba has won its five games by a combined score of 70-6. Team USA, by comparison, has outscored its opponents 46-10 in five games—still dominant, certainly, but the greatest test is still ahead.
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