For the third straight game, Team USA got a dominant performance at the World Cup from its starting pitcher. This time, it came against a team with some recognizable names in the lineup.
Padres farmhand Cory Luebke struck out 10 Canadians and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning as Team USA cruised to an 8-0 victory at Reggio Emilia, Italy, in in the second round of World Cup play. In its previous two games, the Americans got big efforts from Trevor Reckling (Angels), who struck out 11 against China, and Todd Redmond (Braves), who pitched eight two-hit, scoreless frames against Germany on Friday.
But Luebke was the story as he dominated a fairly talented lineup that includes Futures Game MVP Rene Tosoni (Twins), whom he fanned twice, as well as Brett Lawrie (Brewers), Tim Smith (Royals) and Shawn Bowman (Mets), who struck out in each of his three plate appearances.
Catcher Chris Robinson (Cubs), like Luebke a Big Ten Conference product (Robinson went to Illinois, Leubke to Ohio State, and they played together in the conference in 2005), broke up the no-hitter with Canada’s only hit, with two outs in the eighth. It was a single to center field, and Luebke then came out of the game. He struck out 10 as Team USA got consecutive double-digit strikeout efforts by its starters for the first time; it’s just the fourth time in World Cup play an American pitcher has struck out 10 or more.
The U.S. hitters pounded former Giants righty Chris Begg, a Team Canada veteran, for six runs in three innings. Four of those runs came in the first, with Terry Tiffee (Phillies) contributing a two-run double, and Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) hit his first home run of the event, a solo shot in the seventh.
Monday, the 3-1 Americans play Netherlands Antilles in second-round pool play. The top eight teams from the 16-team second round field advance to the championship round of pool play.
Elsewhere in the Cup:
• Host Netherlands beat South Korea 4-2 in dramatic fashion, with catcher Sidney de Jong hitting a three-run homer off reliever Kyung-Eun Noh in the bottom of the eighth for the game’s key blow. Also in the Netherlands pool, Cuba two-hit Great Britain in a 6-0 yawner, while Puerto Rico run-ruled Spain 12-2 in seven innings. And Venezuela’s team of ex-big leaguers and prospects continued its strong showing, improving to 4-0 with a 7-4 win against previously unbeaten Nicaragua. Former Rockies farmhand Luis Landaeta, who last played in Organized Baseball in the Mexican League in 2006, had three hits and a pair of RBIs for Venezuela.
• In the Italy pool, Luke Hughes (Twins) hit a two-run homer in the first to get the ball rolling for Australia. When it stopped the Aussies had a 19-6 victory, with Stefan Welch (Mets) adding a three-run homer of his own. Also in Italy, the host nation lost 5-2 to Taiwan, while Japan played its best game yet, beating Mexico 9-3.