From Codi Warren, ASA/USA Softball
TORONTO, Ontario, Canada — Team USA was lights out in their opening game of the 2015 Pan American Games as Tony Mancha (Las Cruces, N.M.) dominated from the circle in a 10-0 (six inning) shutout win over the Dominican Republic. Exploding for 11 hits throughout the six-inning contest, the U.S. offense came alive in the sixth inning to seal the win while Mancha picked up a no-hitter from the circle.
“Tony Mancha couldn’t have thrown a better game,” said Head Coach Denny Bruckert (Gillespie, Ill.). “He had a heck of a game and used his rise and drop ball and then towards the end of the game brought in the change up. Every time we have Tony go out to that mound he instills confidence in the guys . The Dominican Republic is a very good hitting team, so for Tony to be able to shut them down was great to see.”
Team USA got on board first in the game, taking advantage of a leadoff walk to Chris Miljavac (Easton, Mo.). Derrick Zechman (Watsontown, Pa.) then connected for his first hit of the game with a line drive single to right field to move Miljavac to second. A deep fly ball to center field from Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) put both runners in scoring position for cleanup hitter Josh Johnson (El Paso, Texas). Johnson delivered, hitting a sac-fly to the right fielder to plate the speedy Miljavac.
U.S. starter Mancha established his dominance in the circle early in the bottom half of the first inning. After getting the first batter out with a fly ball to Johnson in right field, the next two batters went down swinging to keep the 1-0 lead for Team USA.
The U.S. threatened to score again in the top of the second inning as Mancha led off with a single and a walk to Kris Bogach (Huguenot, N.Y.) put two runners on. The Dominican Republic defense held strong, however, keeping the runners from advancing with a pair of groundouts before a strikeout ended the rally.
Both sides were held silent through the next two innings until the U.S. got another rally going in the top of the fourth inning. Mancha connected for a deep fly ball to right field for a standup triple to get the leadoff batter on base for the U.S. and would later come around to score on a sac-fly from Bogach to extend the U.S. lead to 2-0.
The Dominican Republic would get their sole base runner of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning with a leadoff walk. That runner would only make it to second base though as a strong U.S. defense retired the side.
The Red, White and Blue tacked on another two runs in the top of the fifth inning with a string of hits and a couple of defensive miscues. Palazzo reached on a walk with one out and moved to second base with an infield single from Johnson. With two runners on, Chase Turner (San Jose, Calif.) hit a hard ground ball to centerfield and Palazzo and Johnson would come around to score on a fielding error by the centerfielder.
The U.S. would secure their opening game win in the top of the sixth inning in a big offensive outing. Paving the way was Pat Sagdal (Richland, Wash.), who hit an infield single to start the U.S. rally. Back-to-back singles from Miljavac and Zechman plated another run for Team USA before Palazzo singled to right field for another RBI to prompt the second pitching change of the game for the Dominican Republic.
A walk to Johnson and Nate Devine (Sonora, Calif.) would load the bases for the Red, White and Blue before Marcus Tan (Union City, Calif.) cleared the bases with a line drive to the gap between center and left field for a standup triple.
Just three outs away from a shutout win, Mancha took care of business from the circle, issuing a strikeout to the leadoff batter before getting a ground ball for the second out. Down to their final swing, a ground out to third base ended the game with Team USA taking the 10-0 (six inning) shutout.
Mancha was lights out from the circle, collecting a complete game no-hitter while finishing with eight strikeouts through six innings of work. He also had a day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with one run scored. Also getting it done from the batter’s box was Zechman, who finished 3-for-4 with one RBI while Tan collected three RBI in a 1-for-2 outing.
“I felt great coming into today’s game,” said Mancha after tossing the no-hitter. “The team was really pumped up for this big opening game. I honestly didn’t even think about pitching or hitting, I was just ready to be out there. Today’s win was big for us. As long as we come out and play like we did today we’ll be just fine.”
Up next for the U.S. is a 7 p.m. EDT game against host country Canada, the reigning World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) World Champion. Live stats will be available throughout the Pan American Games and fans at home can follow along with recaps and more at ASAUSASoftball.com.
About ASA/USA Softball
Founded in 1933, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)/USA Softball is the National Governing Body Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, ASA/USA Softball sanctions competition in every state through a network of 74 local associations and has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 165,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2.5 million. ASA/USA is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles as well as claimed eight World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about ASA/USA Softball, please visithttp://www.asausasoftball.com/.