USA Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation announced today that their College National Team programs will resume an international friendship series for the first time since 1996. The U.S. will kick-off the renewed series by traveling to Cuba for a five-game set in 2012, scheduled for July 5-9, and Cuba has agreed to bring its National Team to the United States in the summer of 2013.
“I could not be more excited for our players and for our collegiate program as a whole,” USA Baseball executive director/CEO Eric Campbell said. “This series will be one of the highlights of our schedule each summer.”
USA Baseball records show that the U.S. and Cuba’s National Teams (U.S. professional teams did not begin competition until 1999) competed consistently each year from 1987-1996, with various friendship games played as early as the late 1970s.
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USA Baseball's collegiate national team fell just short of its fourth straight V FISU World University Championships title this weekend in Tokyo, as Cuba overcame a pair of late deficits in the gold-medal game to stun the Americans, 4-3, in 10 innings.
"It was one of the greatest games I've ever watched, I think," Team USA coach Bill Kinneberg said Tuesday, after returning from Japan. "The intensity of both teams, the play of both teams, just the way it unfolded was really something. It was just too bad somebody had to lose, and it was really too bad we came out on the losing end of it. I don't know if I've ever seen a team of mine play with that emotion and that intensity for 10 innings."
After Drew Maggi (Arizona State) broke a scoreless tie with a solo homer in the top of the eighth, Cuban star Alfredo Despaigne answered with a game-tying solo homer of his own in the bottom of the frame against USA closer Noe Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton), who had entered in relief of starter Gerrit Cole (UCLA). Cole had scattered 10 hits over seven shutout innings.
Lefthander Nick Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton) rescued his Titans teammate from a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the ninth to force extra innings. International tie-breaker rules allowed each team to start its 10th inning with runners on first and second and no outs. Team USA finally got to Cuban starter Miguel Gonzalez (who struck out 14 over 9 2/3 innings, throwing 151 pitches) for two runs in the top of the 10th, but Despaigne answered again in the bottom of the inning.Unknown Object
With one out, Despaigne cranked his second homer of the game—a walk-off, three-run shot against Nick Ramirez. It came on an 0-and-1 changeup.
"He's really a mature hitter," Kinneberg said of Despaigne. "Nick threw him a changeup the first pitch, and he looked kind of bad on it. As good a hitter as he was, we threw it to him again, and he really made a tremendous adjustment on it. Nick threw a good pitch, but his strength took over on that. It was really a great at-bat by him."
There's no shame in losing to Despaigne, who is the best player in Cuban baseball right now. The 24-year-old outfielder is a veteran of the 2008 Olympics (when he homered against Stephen Strasburg in a Cuban rout of the USA in the semifinals) and 2009 World Baseball Classic. In 2008-09, he hit 32 home runs in Cuba's Serie Nacional, breaking the league record. He nearly won the league's triple crown this past season, when he became the third player to repeat as Serie Nacional MVP.
So Team USA had to settle for the silver medal, but it took a heroic performance from Cuba's best player to keep the younger Americans from the gold.
Team USA finished its summer tour with a 16-3 record, including two losses against Chinese Taipei immediately after the Americans landed in Asia. The team rebounded nicely from those losses, splitting the four-game series against the Taiwanese and then outscoring its five opponents 46-10 to reach the FISU finals. That run included quality wins against Canada in pooly play and Japan in the semifinals.
As usual, pitching was Team USA's greatest strength. The team's 11-man pitching staff posted a 1.22 combined ERA with 188 strikeouts and 41 walks in 162 innings. Six different pitchers posted sub-1.00 ERAs in 11 or more innings, led by lefthander Tyler Anderson (1-0, 0.00 in 16 innings over three starts) and righty Sonny Gray (3-0, 0.38 in 24 innings over five appearances, including the semifinal win against Japan). Gray and Cole (2-0, 0.72) turned in their second straight dominant summers with Team USA.
"Our pitching was really good throughout the summer," Kinneberg said. "We gave up some runs against Chinese Taipei in the tournament, that was really the only game we gave up any significant runs whatsoever. Our pitching and defense were really good. I think we struggled at times offensively, and mainly because of the type of pitching we were seeing. When we saw average pitching or below average pitching we hit pretty good. But we saw really good pitching from Korea (early in the summer in North Carolina), and really good pitching from Japan and Cuba obviously, and Chinese Taipei had some good arms. Offensively I thought we were a little bit shy, and without Anthony (Rendon), that probably hurt us a little bit on the offensive side."
Still, the Americans rebounded after Rendon—BA's 2010 College Player of the Year—suffered a major ankle injury in the second game of the summer. Team USA brought in Jason Esposito (Vanderbilt) to play third base, and he provided superb defense as well as extra energy and intensity. Team USA was plenty athletic—the outfield alone contained a trio of legitimate five-tool center fielders in George Springer (Connecticut), Jackie Bradley Jr. (South Carolina) and Mikie Mahtook (Louisiana State)—and had a bit of power (most notably from Bethune-Cookman's Peter O'Brien and Springer, two of the summer's biggest breakout players). A third breakout star—versatile infielder Ryan Wright (Louisville)—might have been the team's MVP. Wright led all regulars with a .361 average and delivered clutch hit after clutch hit.
The infield defense was strong, thanks to the steadiness of shortstop Nolan Fontana (Florida), second baseman Drew Maggi (Arizona State), Esposito and Nick Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton). Team USA posted a solid .976 fielding percentage.
It was a well-constructed club, though it fell just short of its No. 1 goal. But Kinneberg praised the character and toughness of his team and said he regarded the summer as a success.
"It was really a pleasure for me to be around these guys," Kinneberg said. "We asked them at the beginning to come play hard every game, play the game right, and they did it. I thought the tour was competitive all the way through, with the Koreans and then the Japanese in Omaha, then going to Taiwan was a good experience for us. That got us more ready for the tournament because we were in Asia and continued playing that style of baseball. It was shorter than the other tours I've been involved in, which may have been a good thing too. Our starting pitchers did not overthrow, everybody got kind of the same number of at-bats.
"You always tell your team to leave it on the field, and we did."
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. [...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball's College National Team won the final two games of its series in Taiwan, earning a split of the four-game set and finishing its regular season with an 11-2 record.
Team USA won the final two games 9-1 and 6-3 after losing the opening pair of games 3-1 and 1-0. Team USA returns to action Friday in Japan when it plays Sri Lanka in the opening game of the FISU World University Championships, an event the U.S. has won the last three times it entered in 2004, '06 and '08. [...] Continue Reading »
Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon had successful surgery Monday on his broken right ankle, which he injured July 14 while playing for USA Baseball's college national team., which h
Rendon had a three-hour operation, according to a Rice press release, performed at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. Dr. Leland Winston and Dr. Tom Clanton performed the operation, and Dr. Clanton said it went better than expected, "since the fracture pattern and ligament injuries were less severed than they originally appeared. We expect Anthony to make a full recovery and be playing baseball for Rice next spring."
Rendon was the 2010 College Player of the Year after batting .394/.530/.801 with 26 home runs, 85 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and just five errors. He's projected as the top prospect for the 2011 draft if he proves to be healthy, though he'll have plenty of competition for the top spot from the likes of UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole and Texas Christian lefty Matt Purke.
“It is my understanding that the surgery went very well,” Rice head coach Wayne Graham said in the release. “We expect a full recovery for Anthony.”
CARY, N.C.—Three Team USA pitchers threw a combined no-hitter in a 3-0 win against Korea on Wednesday at the USA Baseball National Training Center, but the mood on the field after the game was somber. That's because Team USA lost its biggest star, BA's College Player of the Year Anthony Rendon, to a severe ankle injury.
Rendon, a rising junior third baseman for Rice, singled in the first inning but was caught in a rundown between first and second base after a pickoff throw. He attempted to cut back toward first base to avoid a tag, and his right leg appeared to get caught underneath him. He winced, then rolled onto his chest and pounded the ground a few times with his right hand.
Team USA first-base coach Ed Blankmeyer, the first person to reach Rendon, said after the game that Rendon's foot was bent at an unnatural angle, and it was apparent immediately that the injury was serious. He was carted off the field and taken by ambulance to a local hospital for X-rays. UPDATE: Team USA officially announced this afternoon that Rendon has a fracture-dislocation of his right ankle and will miss the rest of the summer. He will return to Houston on Friday. [...] Continue Reading »
Following a week-long trials process, USA Baseball announced the 22 members of the 2010 college national team late Sunday night, a roster that includes UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole, Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray and Clemson shortstop Brad Miller, all of whom are repeat members from the 2009 club. Baseball America College Player of the Year Anthony Rendon also earned a spot on the roster.
Utah coach Bill Kinneberg will coach the national team this summer, in a schedule that starts Monday in Gastonia, N.C., with a game against the Coastal Plain League's Gastonia Grizzlies, followed with a five-game series in North Carolina this week against Korea. The schedule also includes a one-game international friendly against Japan's college all-star team at Rosenblatt Stadium on July 21. The summer ends in Japan at the FISU World University Championships from July 30-Aug. 7, an event the U.S. has won in 2004, '06 and '08. [...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball's collegiate national team trials start today at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Thirty-six players will compete for spots on the 22-man roster during trials, which last from today through Sunday. The trials roster also contains three alternates.
Following the trials and a training period in Cary, the Team USA will play a five-game series against Korea before squaring off against a Japanese collegiate all-star team in a one-game, international friendship competition in Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium on July 21. From there, the team will travel to Taipei, Taiwan for a four-game series against Chinese Taipei at Tien-Mu Stadium beginning July 25.
Team USA will close its summer season at the FISU World University Championships in Tokyo from July 30-Aug. 7. The U.S. has won the last three FISU Worlds (2004, ’06, ’08), while host nation Japan will be looking for its first title.
Eleven players at trials appeared in the recently completed College World Series, while four players return from the 2009 national team: Gerrit Cole, Sonny Gray, Brad Miller and Kolten Wong. The roster also contains seven Baseball America All-Americans, headlined by Player of the Year Anthony Rendon.
Here is the complete Team USA trials roster (name, 2010 class, position, school): [...] Continue Reading »
Drew Pomeranz has had a year to remember. The lefthander was nothing short of heroic for Mississippi in the NCAA tournament, nearly pitching the Rebels to Omaha singlehandedly. He came up just as big for USA Baseball’s collegiate national team this summer.
Pomeranz carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning Sunday to lead Team USA to an 8-1 win against Germany in the championship game of the Enbridge Nothern Gateway Pipeline World Baseball Challenge in Prince George, British Columbia. The Americans finished their summer campaign with a 19-5 record, including a 6-1 mark in the Challenge in Canada. The Americans also came within an out of winning the annual Japan Series on Japanese soil for the first time since 1974, but Japan rallied to overcome a three-run deficit in the ninth and went on to win the decisive game of the series in extra innings. [...] Continue Reading »
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. [...] Continue Reading »
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