Team USA might have played five games in three cities over six days against Italy, but that itinerary seemed preferable to the one the Americans followed on their Far East trip, when they lost four of the 10 games to rain.
Team USA improved to 10-4 on the summer tour after scoring twice in
the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 win Wednesday in Pawtucket, R.I., to
complete the Italian sweep.
“When you wake up in the morning not sure whether you’re going to
play, and you start doing that three days in a row, it gets a little
mentally exhausting,” Sean Doolittle (Virginia) said. “Once we got back
here, we got something going again and we’™re playing much better team
Team USA found much-needed offensive consistency as the weather
allowed it adhere to a regular schedule for the first time all summer.
The Americans scored six or more runs in each of the five games against
Italy after scoring three runs or fewer in all but two games overseas.
Freshmen J.P. Arencibia (Tennessee) and Matt Wieters (Georgia Tech)
provided much of that consistency, grabbing the top two spots in
batting average and on-base percentage during the Italy series.
Arencibia put together a home run, two doubles and five RBIs during an
11-3 win Sunday to cap the three games in Durham, N.C., before adding
three more hits in the next game, a 15-0 win in Brooklyn, N.Y. Wieters
homered in both of those games to raise his total to three on the
summer, which ranks second on the team. Arencibia and Wieters each went
2-for-4 with an RBI in the 6-5 win.
“J.P. Arencibia has really separated himself as a righthanded
hitter,” Team USA coach Steve Smith (Baylor) said. “J.P.’s having to
split time at catcher (with Florida’s Brian Jeroloman), and with Matt
LaPorta having a broken foot, he’s had to DH, so the chances for
Arencibia and Wieters have been limited.”
Despite a broken fifth metatarsal on the outside of his left foot,
LaPorta (Florida) still led the team with five home runs. His 10-game
hitting streak, however, ended in the 6-5 loss, marking the first time
on the tour he did not reach base.
Righthander Kyle McCulloch (Texas) held Italy to two hits over six
scoreless innings in the 11-3 win to tie Ian Kennedy (Southern
California) for the team lead with three wins. “Our older guys–Ian and
Kyle McCulloch–have been pretty reliable, which you would expect from
them,” Smith said.
Righthander Max Scherzer (Missouri) recorded 10 strikeouts in five
innings Saturday during an 8-3 win before lefthander David Price
(Vanderbilt) delivered the pitching performance of the series by taking
a no-hitter into the sixth inning of the 15-0 win. He struck out 11
batters, walked three and allowed one hit over seven innings.
“I like Price a lot,” Kennedy said. “He’s going to be really good
one day. He’s really good now, but I’ll see him in the big leagues
because he’s a big lefthander who throws so hard and has command.”
Team USA finishes its summer tour this week with six games against
Nicaragua, three in Durham from Friday through Sunday and three in
Myrtle Beach, S.C., from Tuesday through Thursday.