Tuesday the U.S. wrapped up a spot in the medal round with a 4-2 win over Taiwan. Along the way, one of Team USA’s top prospects emerged from a long slump.
Rockies prospect Dexter Fowler had struggled throughout the Olympics, going 2-for-15, which explained why he’d found himself on the bench for two of the first five games. But when Matt LaPorta went down with a mild concussion after being beaned in the China game, there was no choice but to start Fowler—the U.S. didn’t have any other outfielders.
Fowler responded by going 3-for-3 with a triple and an RBI double. John Gall added a solo home run and Brandon Knight allowed two runs, one earned, in 6 1/3 innings to pick up the win. Relievers Mike Koplove and Kevin Jepsen combined to throw 2 2/3 perfect innings, striking out two.
“(Chinese Taipei) was what we expected and I was just very impressed (with them),” said Knight. “I think it is something that I have been through having played in Asia. They really do good job of making adjustments. Their scouting is second to none and they really pay attention to what is going on. The first time through the order I was able to make some good pitches and get some swings and misses. But they made the adjustment. They started taking some good pitches and taking some good swings on others. I was impressed but I also wasn’t surprised.”
The U.S. improved to 4-2 in pool play with one game left to play. Japan beat China 10-0 in a run-rule shortened game to also improve to 4-2. The two teams will play for the No. 3 seed in the medal round tomorrow at 7 a.m. ET.
According to the Associated Press, LaPorta suffered a mild concussion, and may be available to play by Wednesday’s game. The news is worse for China’s catcher Wang Wei. The Mariners’ prospect tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a collision at the plate with LaPorta.