See also: Team USA improves to 2-0 in qualifier
Team USA’s bats are doing everything they can to make sure that the Americans will qualify for the 2008 Olympics.
Thanks to a nine-run explosion over the first two innings yesterday, Team USA cruised to a 15-3 win against Mexico and improved to 3-0 in Group B, where it sits alone in first place.
For the second straight game, center fielder Skip Schumaker (Cardinals) was the offensive hero for Team USA as he followed up a four-hit game in the 8-7 win against Brazil with three hits against Mexico. After putting up five runs in the first, right fielder Chad Allen (Royals) crushed a grand slam home run in the second to give the Americans a 9-0 lead that essentially sealed the game. Mark Reynolds (Diamondbacks) also added a homer in going 2-for-5.
Starting pitcher Zach Segovia (Phillies) allowed one run over five innings to earn the win, and veteran lefthander Mike Bascik (Diamondbacks) added three more innings. After Team USA added five runs in the eighth, the game was ended because of the competition’s mercy rule. Team USA has now outscored its opponents 32-13 through three games.
The United States will take on Puerto Rico this afternoon in hopes of extending the winning streak to four. With a record of 1-2, Puerto Rico is in desperate need of a victory to brighten its hopes of qualifying.
Cuba is doing its best to mimic Team USA’s method of winning thus far by sandwiching one close game between two blowouts. After opening qualifying with a 14-0 win against Colombia, Cuba nipped Panama 7-6 before demolishing the Dominican Republic by a score of 17-3 on Monday. Second baseman Yulieski Gourriel was 3-for-5 while DH Osmani Urrutia was 4-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Cuba is now 3-0 and leads Group A.
Also in Group A, Panama won 3-1 against Nicaragua thanks to the strong pitching of Rafael Medina and Lenin Picota. Medina started the game and threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings before Picota relieved him and allowed one run of 4 2/3 innings of relief. Medina, 31, spent parts of two seasons (1998-1999) with the Marlins, while Picota was a longtime Expos farmhand. With a record of 2-1, Panama sits in second place behind Cuba in Group A.
Puerto Rico salvaged their first victory of the tournament by rallying from a 4-0 deficit to defeat Brazil 10-6. Third baseman Luis Figueroa led their 18 hit attack by going 3-for-5 with a home run. Figueroa, 32, is a long time minor leaguer who hit .275/.318/.387 in 349 at-bats for Triple-A Syracuse this season.
Canada improved to 2-1 in Group B with a 7-5 victory against Venezuela. Catcher Emerson Frostad (Rangers) was the hero for Canada as he keyed a three-run rally in the eighth inning for Canada after replacing starting catcher David Corrente. Frostad then hit a solo home run in the top of the 10th to give Canada the winning run. It was the second straight day of heroics for Frostad, who also contributed to Canada’s four-run ninth inning rally against Puerto Rico in their 6-5 victory on Sunday. The converted third baseman has had a fine year at high Class A Bakersfield, batting .320/.389/.553 with 30 doubles and 12 home runs.