Team USA Registers Third Straight Shutout

Complete Coverage of the Americas Olympic Qualifier

By Eric Edwards

November 6, 2003

PANAMA CITY, Panama–Team USA came here with a reputation for having an explosive offense, and observers questioned whether or not the roster had enough pitching to qualify for the 2004 Olympics.

But so far in the Olympic qualifier, Team USA’s pitchers have done nothing wrong.

It wasn’t easy, but Ryan Madson (Phillies) and three American relievers helped Team USA register its third straight shutout and got the better of Panamanian ace Lenin Picota at Estadio Nacional that was alive Wednesday after nearly a week of echoing foul balls.

Shortstop Mike Rouse (Athletics) had three hits, doubling home Team USA’s first run and scoring its second in a 3-0 victory that had the 15,000 fans in attendance on the edge of their seats at the Americas qualifier for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

DH Ernie Young (Tigers) added an opposite-field home run in the ninth for good measure.

“I’m very satisfied with my team. We got outstanding pitching, and a few key hits,” said Team USA manager Frank Robinson (Expos). “The Panamanian team put forth an outstanding effort. It took an exceptional job on our part to win.”

Team USA clinched a first-place finish in Group A and avoids a potential matchup with Cuba in the crucial semifinals Sunday. The two semifinal winners advance to the Olympics.

Team USA will open against Mexico in the crossover quarterfinals Friday. Should the Americans win that game, they would face the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal game between Canada and Colombia on Sunday afternoon. Robinson said he hadn’t yet decided who would pitch that game for the Americans; lefthander Jason Stanford (Indians) and righthander Justin Duchscherer (A’s) are the two candidates. Duchscherer has battled a stomach ailment for the last week.

The U.S. will play its makeup game against Brazil today as an exhibition; the game will not count in the tournament’s pool-play standings.

Earlier Wednesday, Cuba defeated Canada 7-2 to assure itself first place in the other elimination pool. Panama (3-1 in pool play) will face Puerto Rico in the first quarterfinal Friday.

Madson and relievers J.D. Durbin (Twins), Brian Bruney (Diamondbacks) and Jesse Crain (Twins) combined to shut down Panama on five hits and allowed runners in scoring position in only two innings. Madson, who pitched most of the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, allowed two hits over five innings and struck out seven, leaving after throwing 81 pitches.

“He got sharper as the game wore on. It was a tremendous job,” Robinson said.

The biggest scare came in the seventh. Leading 1-0, the Americans’ first reliever, Durbin, escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam by striking out Avelino Asprilla and getting pinch-hitter Damaso Espino to ground out to shortstop.

Bruney struck out the side in a scoreless eighth, and Crain survived a two-out double by Mosquera to do likewise in the ninth.

The U.S. got some help scoring their first run as Panamanian center fielder Ruben Rivera (Orioles) broke in, then back, on a drive by Chris Burke (Astros). Rivera managed to get a glove on the ball, but it fell in for a double. Rouse then followed with a double to right field to score Burke, the only damage Team USA would manage against the 37-year-old Picota.

“On the first double, I left the pitch out over the plate a little bit,” said Picota, a former Expos farmhand who pitched in the independent Atlantic League as recently as 2000. “The second one was a good pitch. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the hitter.”

Picota worked seven innings, yielding just four hits. He walked one and struck out 12.

“He was tough,” said Rouse. “I felt good tonight, but sometimes you feel good and you don’t get pitches to hit. (Wednesday) I got a couple of pitches to hit. The second double, I got a cutter inside and I could get to it with my hands.”

The U.S. scored again in the eighth inning against lefthanded reliever Rolando Herrera as Graham Koonce (A’s) doubled home Rouse, who had led off the inning with a single. Rouse then narrowly escaped a rundown when Panamanian catcher Julio Mosquera (Mariners) threw off line with Rouse hung up between first and second base.

Ernie Young belted a solo homer off Panama reliever Manuel Corpas for a third tally in the eighth.

Fireworks Accident Delays Game

 

The game’s start was delayed a half-hour following an accidental fireworks explosion that occurred in the stands, injuring 10 fans, including a father and son seriously. The son, 17, was in serious condition; the father’s condition (he’s 41 years old) was worse. He was expected to need surgery to repair damage to his upper chest and arm.

“We’re very upset about this,” said the president of the organizing committee, Dominador Kaiser Bazan. “It’s a very regrettable incident.”

A pre-game firework that was being shot off from beyond the center-field fence veered sideways over and across the playing field, going off in a crowd of fans seated down the right-field line.

“The accident at the beginning of the game put us off for a moment,” Rouse said. “But if you play in the minor leagues, you see weird things happen all the time and you are used to getting back on track.”

Contributing: John Manuel, Riccardo Schirroli

                   2003 USA Olympic Qualifying Team
USA at Panama
Nov 5, 2003 at Panama City, Panama (Nacional)

USA 3 (3-0) Panama 0 (3-1)

AB R H RBI AB R H RBI

Rouse ss 5 1 3 1 Moreno Jr. rf 4 0 0 0
Reed lf 3 0 0 0 De Leon dh 4 0 0 0
Sizemore cf 4 0 0 0 Obando 1b 4 0 3 0
Koonce 1b 3 0 1 1 Rivera, R. cf 3 0 0 0
Gross rf 1 0 0 0 Iglesias 3b 3 0 0 0
Mauer c 4 0 0 0 Mosquera c 4 0 2 0
Leone 3b 4 0 1 0 Vega lf 2 0 0 0
Young dh 4 1 1 1 Pinto, H. ph/lf 1 0 0 0
Burke 2b 4 1 1 0 Asprilla 2b 3 0 0 0
Madson p 0 0 0 0 Garibaldo ss 2 0 0 0
Durbin p 0 0 0 0 Espino ph/ss 1 0 0 0
Bruney p 0 0 0 0 Picota p 0 0 0 0
Crain p 0 0 0 0 Herrera p 0 0 0 0
Corpas p 0 0 0 0

Totals 32 3 7 3 Totals 31 0 5 0

Score by innings: R H E
———————————————-
USA 000 010 011 – 3 7 0
Panama 000 000 000 – 0 5 0
———————————————-

LOB – USA 7; Panama 7. 2B – Rouse 2; Koonce; Burke; Mosquera. HR -
Young (1). SH – Reed; Pinto, H.. SB – Rouse. CS – Leone.

IP H R ER BB SO WP BK HP IBB AB BF Fly Gnd

Madson (W, 1-0) 5.0 2 0 0 1 7 0 0 0 0 17 18 4 4
Durbin 2.0 2 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 7 9 0 3
Bruney 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 3 3 0 0
Crain (S, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 4 4 0 0

Picota (L, 1-1) 7.0 4 1 1 2 12 0 0 1 0 24 27 5 3
Herrera 1.0 2 1 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 4 6 0 1
Corpas 1.0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 4 1 2

WP – Herrera. HBP – by Picota (Koonce).

Strikeouts – Reed; Sizemore 2; Koonce 2; Mauer 3; Leone; Young 3; Burke 2;
Moreno Jr.; De Leon 2; Obando; Rivera, R. 2; Iglesias 3; Mosquera; Vega 2;
Pinto, H.; Asprilla 2; Garibaldo. Walks – Gross 3; Rivera, R.; Iglesias.

Umpires – Home:Roman 1st: Cajina 2nd: Okuyama 3rd: Proneau
Start: 8:00 pm Time: 2:50 Attendance: 15000

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