Story courtesy of USA Softball, Katie Willis
PRINCE ALBERT, CANADA – A late rally from the USA Softball Junior Men’s National Team (JMNT) fell short as the Red, White and Blue closed out pool play by falling to the Czech Republic, 6-5. The JMNT finishes fourth in Group B and will face off against Argentina in the opening game of the playoff round on Friday, July 13. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. local time/4 p.m. CT.
“It’s a tough loss but we didn’t play 21 outs tonight,” said Head Coach, Tyron McKinney (Ashland, Ohio). “I think we only played 18 outs tonight and that was the difference in the ballgame. When we play 21 outs, we can compete with anyone. Our backs are up against the wall so we are going to do what we know how to do and that’s to fight.”
Both teams came out scoring right out of the gate. The Czech Republic put up the game’s first run on a pop fly that fell in and out of a USA glove.
The Red, White and Blue responded at the plate with a crooked number. A pair of back-to back singles by Dalton Gray (South Jordan, Utah) and Jeff Lewis (Amboy, Minn.) helped load the bases after Craig Lewis (Winston, Mo.) reached on an error. Despite being down in the count 0-2, cleanup hitter Tony Wark (Munger, Mich.) worked the count back even before knocking a bases clearing triple to the left-center gap to give the JMNT a 3-1 lead.
A two-run lead did not last long for the JMNT as the Czech Republic strung together four runs on three hits in the second to take a 5-3 lead. As the visiting team, the Czech Republic plated one in the third to cap off five unanswered runs.
C. Lewis entered the game early in the third for USA starter Nathan Landry (Indian Brook, Nova Scotia) who lasted two innings allowing six runs (four earned) on four hits.
C. Lewis shut down the opposition at the plate in the final four frames and has not allowed an earned run in the last 14.2 innings of work.
With a shutdown pitcher in the circle, the JMNT began a rally in the fourth. Derek Gomez (Austin, Texas) led off the half inning with a walk before Daniel Stangel (Kewaunee, Wis.) entered the game as a pinch runner. Stangel came around to score as nine-hitter Seth Brandel (Houghton Lake, Mich.) sent a sharp single up the middle. C. Lewis helped his own cause driving in the second run of the inning on a ground ball that snuck through the left side, cutting the USA deficit to 6-5.
The JMNT had their chances late in the game with runners in scoring position but could not produce the tying run as they left two stranded in the final frame.