From Codi Warren, USA Softball
PARANA, Argentina – The USA Softball Men’s National Team took fourth place following a 3-1 battle with Argentina at the IX Conpasa Men’s Fastpitch Panam Championship on Friday evening the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. The loss eliminated Team USA from the tournament, where the team finished with a 4-4 record and qualified for the 2015 Pan American Games and XIV International Softball Federation (ISF) Men’s World Championship.
“Tonight was a tough loss for the team, but we also saw the resilience of our guys,” said Head Coach Denny Bruckert (Gillespie, Ill.). “These guys had their backs against the wall so many times throughout this tournament and proved that they will fight until the last pitch. We saw a lot of great things from the team, and are looking forward to continuing to grow as a team and program.”
Pitching dominated the first half of the game as Argentina’s Lucas Mata shut the U.S. down in order in their first at-bat. USA’s Tony Mancha (Las Cruces, N.M.) started in the circle, and despite giving up a leadoff infield single, retired the next three Argentina batters.
Argentina struck first in the bottom of the second inning as Ladislao Malarczuk sent a solo shot over center field to give his team an early 1-0 lead.
The U.S. would fail to get a base runner until the top of the sixth inning when Pat Sagdal (Richland, Wash.) singled with two outs. With Chris Miljavic (Easton, Mo.) at the plate, Sagdal stole second base and came around to score on an overthrow by Argentina’s shortstop.
Tied at 1-1, the game headed into the final inning where the U.S. faced the heart of the Argentina lineup. Bruno Motroni led off with a line drive to left field to put the leadoff batter on board before Manuel Godoy sent a home run over the right field fence. Mancha proved his resiliency, bouncing back and retiring the next three batters with the strikeout.
Trailing by two in their last at-bat, Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) led off with a single to centerfield , but three-consecutive strikeouts ended the U.S. rally before it could begin.
Mancha threw the complete game for the U.S., surrendering six hits, one walk and nine strikeouts. Offensively, Team USA was limited to two hits in the contest while 15 batters retired via strikeout.
With the loss, the Americans took fourth at the IX Conpasa Men’s Fastpitch Panam Championship, while Argentina advanced to play Canada in the semi-finals. The winner of the semi’s will then face Venezuela for the title.
As a team, the U.S. finished the tournament with a .175 batting average and were led by Sagdal, who ended with a .250 (5-for-20) batting average and three RBI. From the circle, Mancha finished the tournament with a 1-3 record, 55 strikeouts and a 1.60 ERA in 35 innings pitched.
Team USA now sets their sights on the 2015 season, where they will compete in two international events. First up will be the ISF Men’s World Championship in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada from June 26 – July 5. The U.S. will then head to Toronto, Ontario, Canada for the 2015 Pan American Games, which are slated for July 10-26. You can follow along with Team USA all year round by visiting www.USASoftball.com.