Archive for the 'United States' Category

Baseball America’s Qualifier

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

The America’s is another opportunity for the United States to qualify for the Olympics in Japan in 2020. The next to last qualifier will be played in Arizona from March 22 -26. The last qualifier will be played in Taiwan. The second and third place teams from the America’s qualifying round will be eligible to participate in Taiwan. Below are the pools from that group.

Group A

United States, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua

Group B

Cuba, Venezuela, Canada and Colombia

The United States would be the favored team in this group.

Premier 12 All Tournament Team

Monday, November 18th, 2019

The United States may have finished in fourth place but they had the most players on the All Tournament team. Japan had the MVP in outfielder Seiya Suzuki and possible future major leaguer second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi. Below is the All World team.

Starting Pitcher - Chang Yi (Taiwan)
Relief Pitcher - Brandon Dickson (United States)
Catcher - Erik Kratz (United States)
First Base - Bobby Dalbec (United States)
Second Base - Ryosuke Kikuchi (Japan)
Third Base - Wang Wei-chen (Taiwan)
Shortstop - Kim Ha-seong (Korea)
Outfield - Seiya Suzuki (Japan), Jonathan Jones (Mexico), Lee Jung-ho (Korea)
Designated Hitter - Brent Rooker (United States)

Mexico and Korea Qualify for Olympics

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

The fate of Korea had already been known the day before when they made it to the gold medal match. Mexico’s case was determined yesterday when they continued to be a thorn in the United States side, eliminating them from qualifying for the Olympics in the Premier 12 and winning the bronze match in extra innings 3-2 to earn the fourth Olympic bid. The United States still has two more tournaments they can play in to qualify for the Olympics, but there are now only two spots left, with Israel, Mexico, Japan and Korea qualifying for Tokyo next year. A second Olympics could happen without the United States participating in baseball and both times it could be Mexico eliminating them from that opportunity.

Mexico 3 United States 2

The United States jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Jordan Adell hit a one out solo homerun in the first inning. It became a pitcher’s duel after that. Cody Ponce and Arturo Reyes each pitched five innings of shutout ball after that.

The United States went to their bullpen in the sixth and Matthew Clark got the big hits for Mexico to keep their hopes alive. In the sixth he hit a two out infield single with the bases loaded to tie the game. After the United States recaptured the lead in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Robert Dalbec, Clark came through again. He led off the bottom of the ninth with a homerun off United States closer Brandon Dickson to tie the game at 2-2.

In the extra inning both teams employed the same boring strategy that international teams use when placing runners on first and second with no outs. They bunt the runners over and the other team intentionally walks the next batter to load the bases. In the United States case Alec Bohm struck out and Jacob Cronenworth flew out to leave the United States scoreless. Efren Navarro hit his single up the middle to give Mexico the walk off hit and qualification in the Olympics.

Japan 5 Korea 3

Korea won the first Premier 12. Japan wrested the championship away from them this time. It was asking too much for the United States minor leaguers to finish in the finals against two teams using their professional players. The two best teams played in the finals.

Korea scored all their runs early. Ha-Seong Kim hit a two run homerun and Hyun-Soo Kim a solo shot in the first inning to give Korea an early 3-0 lead. Both homeruns were hit off Shun Yamaguchi, who did not come out for the second inning.

Japan was not deterred. Seiya Suzuki drove in his tournament leading 13th RBI with a double in the bottom of the first to pull Japan to within two. In the second Tetsuto Yamada smashed a pitch into the left field bleachers for a three run homer to give Japan the lead. Hyeon-jong Yang pitched three innings, giving up the four runs.

Six different Japanese pitchers held Korea to three hits and no runs through the remaining eight innings to secure the championship. Japanese closer Yasuaki Yamasaki continued his mastery throwing a scoreless ninth. In his five appearances he has only allowed one hit, no walks and struck out seven, picking up three saves.

Japan scored an insurance run in the seventh on a Hideto Asamura single. That seemed to knock the wind out of Korea. They went six up and six down in the final two innings, three of them by strikeouts.

The championship goes to Japan, but Korea and Mexico get the big rewards by qualifying for the Olympics. The United States must hope for another tournament, competing with Taiwan, Netherlands, Cuba and Canada for the last two Olympic spots.

United States Makes it to Bronze Medal Game Versus Mexico

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

The winner of the bronze medal game between the United States and Mexico will qualify for the Olympics. Mexico has beaten the United States in a game earlier in the tournament. Korea has qualified because they are in the gold medal match and Japan has already qualified for being the host. Because the top two teams from the Premier 12 qualify and Japan has already qualified, the winner of the bronze medal game becomes the second team to qualify for the Olympics.

The United States has to thank Taiwan for getting them to the bronze medal game. They beat Australia yesterday. If Australia had won they would have played in the bronze medal game versus Mexico.

Taiwan 5 Australia 1

In international competition Australia has always had trouble scoring runs. That came back to haunt them again as Taiwan pitchers held their hitters to five hits. The only run Australia scored was on a solo shot in the sixth by Logan Wade that tied the game 1-1.

Taiwan put the game away in the eighth when they scored four runs. The first was driven in on a Wei-Chen Wang single. The last three scored when Che-Hsuan Lin deposited a ball into the left field bleachers for a three run homer. For Lin it was his first homer and first three runs driven in for the tournament.

Chih-Wei Hu pitched well for Taiwan, hurling five shutout innings and allowing just three hits. Stephen Kent shut down the Taiwan bats after they scored a run in the third, throwing four shutout innings and allowing just two hits. Hu did not allow a run in his two appearances, working 8.2 innings. Kent has the most innings pitched of any reliever, four appearances with 11.1 innings and a 1.59 ERA.

Australia did get opportunities to score, advancing a runner to second in four of the nine innings they batted.

Japan 10 Korea 8

This game did not really count for anything except bragging rights. Today they play again for the gold medal. Japan erupted for six in the third to win this game. Korea bounced back for five in the fifth but they never could capture the lead.

Neither team felt a need to use their starters, or if they did they were replaced after a couple innings. Seiya Suzuki did get one RBI to increase his tournament RBI lead by five (12 RBIs). Korea’s young superstar Baek-Ho Kang got his first start in the tournament and drove in three runs.

United States Survives Premier 12 Scare

Friday, November 15th, 2019

No one said this would be easy, especially with players on the major league roster prohibited from playing in the Premier 12. The United States overcame a 2-1 deficit to defeat Taiwan 3-2 to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the last two spots in the Olympcis. Korea bounced Mexico 7-3, tacking on a second straight loss to the once undefeated team.

United States 3 Taiwan 2

The United States trailed 2-1 until Brent Rooker slugged a two run homer to give the United States a 3-2 lead and keep their slim hopes of qualifying for the Olympics. Taiwan saw all their hopes dashed with the two run bomb.

Sheng-Feng Wu had stymied the United States bats after they had scored an early run in the first inning on an Andrew Vaughn RBI single. After the single by Vaughn Wu did not allow a runner to reach second, striking out six and limiting the United States bats to one hit through the sixth inning. In the bottom of the seventh veteran Erik Kratz singled. After Wu struck out Robert Dalbec for the second out he gave Rooker too good a pitch to hit and he mashed it into the left field bleachers.

Taiwan had tied the game in the top of the third after a walk and single put runners on first and third with no outs. A ground out double play allowed a run to score to tie the game. Taiwan went ahead in the top of the sixth on a Chin-Lung Hu solo shot.

The United States bullpen of Noah Song and Brandon Dickson retired the next six hitters to nail down the victory, each pitcher working an inning each. The United States must now hope that Taiwan defeats Australia to get an opportunity at the fourth place match. If Australia wins they would win the head to head tie breaker. Taiwan has been the lone team eliminated.

Korea 7 Mexico 3

The Mexican pitching staff has been excellent throughout the Premier 12. They had a hiccup in the fifth inning when they gave up seven runs. It was all Korea needed to hold down the victory.

Mexico had just taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth on a Jonathan Jones two run homer. For Jones it is his third homerun of the tournament. He is now tied with Seiya Suzuki for the lead in runs scored with eight. If he was not batting in the leadoff spot some of those homeruns may have resulted in more runs batted in. He currently has six, five behind the leader Suzuki.

Mexico had gone to their bullpen after one out in the fourth inning. In the fifth Korea sent 11 hitters to the plate to score seven runs. Hyun-soo Kim closed out the scoring with a three run double.

Mexico was able to score another run in the sixth on a Roman Solis double. That would be the extent of their offense. The Korean bullpen shut them down for the final three innings to clinch a spot in the Olympics. Mexico will have to settle for a bronze medal game either against Australia or the United States. If they can win that game they will have qualified for the Olympics.

Japan and Korea will play a meaningless game, since both teams have clinched a spot for the gold.

Australia Shocks United States in WBC

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Australia had not won a game in the Super Round and were virtually eliminated from qualifying for the Olympics in the Premier 12. They really had nothing to play for in their game against the United States. They rose to the occasion and shocked the United States team, sending them down the path of elimination. Japan also sent Mexico down to defeat for the first time, leaving no team undefeated in this Premier 12.

Australia 2 United States 1

Australia scored all their runs in the first when they started the inning with a double sandwiched between two walks. Aaron Whitfield drove in both runs with a one out single up the middle, Logan Wade getting thrown out at third on the play.

Australia turned to Timothy Atherton to silence the United States bats. He limited them to one hit and did not allow a runner to reach second in his 5.1 innings of work. In the sixth inning the United States team finally put two runners on base thanks to two walks issued by Peter Moylan. Andrew Vaughn grounded out to short to end the threat.

Mark Payton hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth to close the gap to 2-1. But without the homerun the United States bats could not get a rally going, only once getting a runner to second base. Jon Kennedy retired the final two hitters to secure the victory.

The United States must hope that either Taiwan and Australia fail to win a game to get into the bronze medal match and hope for a third place win to qualify for the Olympics. The United States won the head to head battle against Taiwan, but were losers against Australia and Korea. A three way tie would go to a complicated tie breaker.

Japan 3 Mexico 1

Japan pitchers allowed just one hit in the game, a Jonathan Jones solo blast in the fourth inning to defeat Mexico. Shota Imanaga struck out eight hitters in his six innings of work. The Japanese bullpen struck out seven of the ten hitters they faced to raise that strikeout total for the game to 15.

Japan scored early off Mexican pitcher Horacio Ramirez, netting all three runs in the first two innings. Seiya Suzuki and Kensuke Kondo contributed RBI singles in the first inning. Hayato Sakamoto added an RBI single in the second.

Suzuki leads all players in RBIs with 11. The closest player to him is Robert Dalbec with seven. He is also hitting .476 and his eight runs scored is more than any other player. He also leads all players in homeruns (3) and triples (2) and added two doubles. Seven of his ten hits have gone for extra bases. Major league scouts are salivating at what he could do in their outfield.

The Topsy Turvey World of the Premier 12

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Just when there appears to be consistency in the Premier 12 they have a day where they throw you for a loop. Mexico defeated Australia to remain the lone undefeated team in the Premier 12. This should put them in the Top three and qualify for the Olympics. The other two undefeated teams lost, with the United States beating Japan and Taiwan pulling off the big upset with their win over Korea. It just goes to show you that no country can claim superiority in this game of baseball.

Mexico 3 Australia 0

The pitching for Mexico has been excellent. Another shutout, this one started by Eduardo Vera for the first five innings, with three different bullpen mates finishing the shutout. Vera gave up four hits with one walk, while his bullpen was perfect, retiring all 12 hitters they faced. In five games the Mexican pitching staff has not given up more than two runs, beating all five teams they have faced.

Mexico got all the runs they needed in the first inning on a Jonathan Jones leadoff homer. In the fourth Mexico added two more runs, one on a solo homerun from Matthew Clark. Jones doubled in the second run of the inning for his second RBI of the game.

The closest Australia got to scoring was in the third. Daryl George singled and Robert Perkins hit a double to left field. George tried to score from first but was gunned down at the plate. Once the bullpen came on in the sixth it was 12 up and 12 down. Australia no longer has a shot to finish in the top three, which will eliminate them from qualifying for an Olympic berth in the Premier 12. They have two more tournaments to accomplish that.

Taiwan 7 Korea 0

Perhaps the biggest upset of the day. The professional bats of Korea could get only four hits off Chang Li in his 6.2 innings of work. The bullpen closed out the final 2.1 innings to complete the shutout. An embarrassing day for the Korean professional hitters.

The Taiwan bats had no problem battering the KBO pitchers, lashing out 11 hits. The big hit was the Chun-Hsui Chen three run homer in the seventh that put the game out of reach, extending the lead to 6-0. Kwang-hyun Kim, who attempted to play in the major leagues but failed to get a high enough offer to leave the KBO, got the start for Korea and was not effective. He gave up three runs on 8 hits in his 3.1 innings of work.

Korea failed to get the big hits early, leaving two men on base in the first two innings. Taiwan scored two in the second and Korea failed to erase that deficit.

United States 4 Japan 3

The United States kept their slim hopes alive for finishing in the top three with a win over Japan. Jacob Cronenworth, after striking out four times yesterday and stranding eight runners on base came through on this day, driving in the first run in the second with a ground out, scoring Alec Bohm, who had led the inning off with a double. The United States never trailed after that.

Robert Dalbec continued his productive hitting with an RBI double in the third. Alec Bohm, another player who struggled yesterday, leaving a number of runners on base, drove in a run with a single in the fifth. Jordon Adell closed out the scoring for the United States with a solo shot in the seventh.

It was the Suzuki/Asamura show for Japan. The duo was good for Japan in the fourth when they scored their first run with the hot hitting Seiya Suzuki tripling and scoring on a Hideto Asamura single. Asamura drove in Suzuki again with a double in the sixth after Suzuki reached on an error. That combination proved fruitful a third time in the eighth when Asamura drove in Suzuki with a single, after Suzuki had doubled to lead off the inning.

Brandon Dickson pitched a perfect ninth to close out the victory for the United States. Japan was limited to seven hits, five of them by Suzuki and Asamura.

Upsets in the Opening of the Super Round

Monday, November 11th, 2019

Korea beating the United States would not be considered an upset since Korea has the participation of their KBO professional players while the United States team is filled with prospects, but the loss eliminates the United States aspirations for qualifying for the Olympics in the Premier 12. Now they must look to two other qualifying rounds to become eligible for the Olympics. Mexico defeating Taiwan was a bit of a surprise. Japan had a scare from Australia, but eventually pulled it out.

Mexico 2 Taiwan 0

Mexico started Arturo Reyes for five innings and he shut down the Taiwanese bats to just two hits and two walks. Five different pitchers came in from the bullpen and finished the shutout, limiting Taiwan to just one additional hit. Carlos Bustamante closed the game out with a perfect ninth to pick up the save and put Mexico in the driver’s seat with a record of 2-0. Taiwan saw their hopes drop to qualify for an Olympic berth in this series, falling to 0-2.

Roman Solis broke up the scoreless game with a two out solo homerun in the fifth. Mexico added an insurance run in the sixth when Jonathan Jones and Noah Perio started the inning off with singles. Esteban Quiroz drove in Jones with a sacrifice fly to right center.

Taiwan’s best chance for scoring was in the third when a single and walk put two runners on. They had runners on first and third with two out but a ground out ended the threat. They also put runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but that is where they died after a strikeout and fly out ended the inning.

Japan 3 Australia 2

Australia scored the first two runs in the game to put the scare in Japan. A Daryl George double off Shun Yamaguchi to lead off the third and a Timothy Kennelly two out single gave Australia their first run. In the fourth they tacked on another run with a two out Aaron Whitfield single and a Mitchell Nilsson double to up the score to 2-0.

Edgy Japanese fans got a little bit of relief in the bottom of the fourth when Seiya Suzuki launched a solo blast into left field after starter Dushan Ruzic had retired the first two hitters of the inning.

It stayed at 2-1 until the seventh when Japan used the legs of Ukyo Shuto to steal a run. Masataka Yoshida started the inning with a single. Shuto pinch ran for Yoshida. Shuto proceeded to steal second and third and scored on a squeeze bunt to tie the score at 2-2.

In the eighth the lack of control by the Australian pitching staff gave Japan their game winning run. Kensuke Kondo roped a two out double into left center. Australia chose to walk Seiya Suzuki intentionally. Jon Kennedy then had trouble finding the plate, walking pinch hitter Tetsuto Yamada to load the bases and walking Hideto Asamura to force in the go ahead run.

Yasuaki Yamasaki retired the Australians in order in the ninth to seal up the victory for Japan. Australia dropped to 0-2, making it difficult to finish in the top two or three spots to qualify for the Olympics. Japan improved to 2-0 and have already secured a spot for the Olympics as the host country.

Korea 5 United States 1

The United States had their opportunities to beat Korea in this game, stringing together 13 hits, but they stranded 16 runners and Korea went on to win 5-1. Korean starter Hyeon-jong Yang walked the tight rope for 5.2 innings giving up 10 hits and walking two, but only one of those runners crossed the plate.

Korea pounced on Cody Ponce in the first inning for three runs. Jae-hwan Kim smashed a ball over the right field fence with two runners on to give Korea an early 3-0 lead.

The United States had squandered a bases loaded one out situation in the top of the first when the next two hitters struck out. They also failed to get a clutch two out hit in the second inning when Alec Bohm grounded out with runners on second and third with two out. In the fifth Jacob Cronenworth struck out with runners on first and third and two out. He had also struck out with the bases loaded in the first.

In the sixth the United States broke out for their first run on a Brent Rooker solo shot. They actually put runners on second and third with two out in the inning after the solo shot, but Alec Bohm struck out to end the threat.

Korea put the game away in the seventh, rallying after their first two hitters in the inning were retired. Ha-Seong Kim doubled in one run. After the United States changed pitchers Jung-Hoo Lee drove in the second run with a double, increasing the Korean lead to 5-1.

The United States had a runner thrown out at home in the top of the eighth to end that inning. In the ninth they stranded two more runners to drop their record to 0-2. Korea improved to 2-0. Cronenworth stranded 8 runners in an 0 for 5 day with four strikeouts.

United States Prevails Over Dominican Republic to Advance to Super Round

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

It appears the secret to success for this United States team is to out slug their opponents. They hit four homeruns yesterday to defeat the Dominican Republic 10-8 and advance to the Super Round in Tokyo. Leadoff batter Mark Payton started the game off with a homerun and Alec Bohm bombed a three run homer in the third to lead the offense.

Charlie Valerio hit a three run homer for the Dominican Republic in the bottom of the fifth to close the gap to 9-7. The United States turned to its bullpen to shut out the Dominicans for the next three innings. In the 9th Brandon Dickerson retired the first two hitters, but two singles put the tying run Carlos Peguero at the plate. Dickerson was able to strike him out to secure the save.

Erik Kratz had a solo homerun and three hits in the game. He batted .625 for the tournament with two homeruns. Alec Bohm also had three hits in the game. Robert Dalbec drove in a run for the third consecutive game and tied for the lead in RBIs with six. Charlie Valerio was a perfect 3 for 3, falling a triple short of the cycle. Edwin Espinal drove in three runs for the Dominicans with his two singles and finished the tournament with 6 RBIs.

On the pitching front Wyatt Mills was a savior with his two shutout innings. Noah Song struck out three hitters in the eighth, giving up a single.

Mexico Upsets United States to Advance to Premier 12 Super Round

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Mexico continues to be a thorn in the United States side by upsetting them yesterday and advancing to the Super Round in Tokyo in a couple weeks. Roman Solis slugged a three run homer to end a five run fifth and the Mexican bullpen shut down the United States bats for the final six innings to finish off an 8-2 win.

Mexico got off to a fast start in the first inning on a two run single by Christian Villanueva off Tanner Houck. The United States bounced back in the third and fourth innings on solo homeruns from Erik Kratz and Robert Dalbec. For Dalbec it was his second homerun of the series.

Kratz allowed the go ahead run to score in the fifth inning on a passed ball. Noah Perio and Jonathan Jones had started the inning with singles to put runners on first and third and no out. Houck struck out one and Daniel Tillo struck out both hitters he faced, but with two out Kratz let a pitch slip by him to score Perio, which proved to be the winning run.

Mexico put the game away in the 8th with five runs. Efren Navarro drove in two with a single and Solis put the dagger in the heart with a three run homerun.

The Mexican bullpen did not allow a runner to second after the Dalbec homerun. Jesus Cruz and Carlos Bustamante each pitched two perfect innings, striking out five of the six hitters they faced.

In the other game the Dominican Republic blasted Netherlands 14-4. The Dominican Republic did not score in the first inning, but scored in the next six to put the game away. Ex-major leaguer Jair Jurrjens gave up five hits and three runs for the Netherlands.

The Dominicans turned to Ervin Santana. He also gave up five hits in just 2.1 innings of work, serving up a leadoff homer to Roger Bernadina and a two run homer to Chadwick Tromp in the first inning to give the Netherlands an early 3-0 lead.

A six run sixth inning by the Dominicans put the game out of reach. Alfredo Marte’s three run double was the big hit of the inning. Marte finished the game with four RBIs. Gilberto Cestino drove in the go ahead run with a double in the fourth. He also made a game saving catch in centerfield in the bottom of the fourth to prevent the tying run from scoring and possibly shifting the momentum in the game.

The United States will face the Dominican today to determine the second team to advance to Tokyo for the Super Round. The winner advances to Tokyo and the loser goes home.