From USA Softball, By Brendan Rourke
LIMA, PERU – For the first time since its debut in 1979, someone other than Canada was going to win the gold medal in men’s softball at the Pan American Games. When Canada failed to qualify for the Pan American Games Lima 2019, it opened the door for a new champion to begin its reign.
Although Team USA couldn’t find a way to get past Argentina, the U.S. men’s squad did continue its impressive feat of medaling in eight of the nine total tournaments. Argentina defeated the U.S. 5-0 behind a two-hit, complete-game shutout from pitcher Huemul Mata.
“It’s bittersweet,” infielder Matt Palazzo said. “We battled out there. These guys left everything on the field. We just came up a little short. But at the end of the day, the silver medal is pretty good, too.”
Palazzo has been playing softball for the national team since 2009. He was with the fourth-place team at the 2015 Pan American Games, the only time the U.S. hasn’t earned silver in this event. Softball was not played in 2007 and 2011.
“It’s been great,” Palazzo said of his experience here. “Lima has done an awesome job. The facilities were fantastic, the crowds were great. The whole thing’s been wonderful. It’s an experience that we’ll never forget.”
Using the page-playoff format – a mix of a single-elimination and double-elimination tournaments – the U.S. found itself playing against Mexico in the bronze medal match. The game’s loser would be awarded bronze, and the winner would advance to square off against No. 1 seed Argentina for gold. When the U.S. earned a 7-4 victory over Mexico behind five home runs, two from second baseman Erick Ochoa, it was time to face the familiar foe once more.
Amidst the chaos of soccer-like chants, spirited airhorns, and buzzing kazoos coming from the boisterous Argentinean crowd, the U.S. tried its best to generate offense against Mata. The hard-throwing right-hander proved to be too much to combat and struck out nine U.S. hitters during the contest.
“He’s one of the top pitchers in the world,” Palazzo said of Mata. “He kept us off balance a lot. He kept us guessing a little bit out there. It was tough. We just couldn’t get that timely hit when we needed it. But we left everything out there, so there were no regrets.”
Argentina posted a team earned run average of 0.65 in its seven victories, with 68 strikeouts in 43 innings.
“They’re deep,” U.S. Coach Gregg Leather said. “They have three more [pitchers] at home, too, that you haven’t even seen that are almost as good.”
Team USA managed a lone hit through the first four innings of play. In the second inning, shortstop Cameron Schiller’s bouncer went over the head of Argentina shortstop Gustavo Godoy and limped into the outfield.
The U.S. firepower had been on display in the bronze medal match against Mexico earlier Thursday morning. In the bottom of the first, designated hitter Jeff Nowaczyk gave the U.S. some early momentum with a two-run home run over the center field wall.
USA 7, Mexico 4
|Julio Cesar Rodriguez Pena||4||1||1||0||0||2|
|Edgar Daniel Lopez||2||0||0||0||2||2|
|Ruben Delgadillo Hernandez||4||0||2||1||0||0|
|Marco Antonio Gonzalez Rubio||4||0||0||0||0||1|
|Daniel Eduardo Durazo||4||1||1||1||0||2|
|Alan de Jesus Osuna Peraza||1||0||0||0||2||1|
|Ernesto Alonzo Sanchez||3||1||1||0||0||1|
|Jesus Rene Cardona Bustamante||3||1||2||2||0||0|
|Ismael Pena Osuna||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jose Ricardo Hernandez Cueto||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Adan Duenas Ledezma||–||–||–||–||–||–|
Batting2B: Ruben Delgadillo Hernandez
HR: Daniel Eduardo Durazo, Jesus Rene Cardona Bustamante
TB: Ernesto Alonzo Sanchez, Daniel Eduardo Durazo 4, Jesus Rene Cardona Bustamante 5, Ruben Delgadillo Hernandez 3, Julio Cesar Rodriguez Pena
RBI: Daniel Eduardo Durazo, Jesus Rene Cardona Bustamante 2, Ruben Delgadillo Hernandez
FC: Ernesto Alonzo Sanchez, Ruben Delgadillo Hernandez
SB: Alan de Jesus Osuna Peraza, Julio Cesar Rodriguez Pena
TotalsTeam QAB: 18 (54.55%)
Ernesto Alonzo Sanchez 3, Daniel Eduardo Durazo 3, Jesus Rene Cardona Bustamante, Ruben Delgadillo Hernandez 2, Alan de Jesus Osuna Peraza 2, Edgar Daniel Lopez 3, Julio Cesar Rodriguez Pena 2, Marco Antonio Gonzalez Rubio, Pena
Team LOB: 8
USA Men’s National Teammore stats
BattingHR: Nick Mullins, Jeff Nowaczyk, Erick Ochoa 2, Jonathan Lynch
TB: Nick Mullins 4, Jeff Nowaczyk 4, Matt Ratliff, Erick Ochoa 8, Jonathan Lynch 4
RBI: Nick Mullins, Jeff Nowaczyk 2, Matt Ratliff, Erick Ochoa 2, Jonathan Lynch
FC: Nick Mullins, Gil Saenz
HBP: Erick Ochoa, Cameron Schiller
SB: Erick Ochoa
TotalsTeam QAB: 15 (48.39%)
Nick Mullins, Jeff Nowaczyk 2, Matt Ratliff 2, Erick Ochoa 4, Jonathan Lynch 2, Matt Palazzo 2, Jenner Christiansen, Yusef Davis
Team LOB: 5FieldingE: Tony Mancha
|Adan Duenas Ledezma||3.1||74||.541||4||5||5||3||2||4|
|Jose Ricardo Hernandez Cueto||2.2||56||.500||2||2||2||2||3||1|
PitchingL: Adan Duenas Ledezma
HBP: Jose Ricardo Hernandez Cueto, Adan Duenas Ledezma
Pitches-Strikes: Jose Ricardo Hernandez Cueto 56-28, Adan Duenas Ledezma 74-40
Groundouts-Flyouts: Jose Ricardo Hernandez Cueto 1-3, Adan Duenas Ledezma 6-1
First pitch strikes-Batters faced: Jose Ricardo Hernandez Cueto 5-14, Adan Duenas Ledezma 10-17
USA Men’s National Teammore stats
PitchingW: Tony Mancha
Pitches-Strikes: Tony Mancha 123-72, Duane Weiler 19-13
Groundouts-Flyouts: Tony Mancha 3-2, Duane Weiler 2-1
First pitch strikes-Batters faced: Tony Mancha 16-29, Duane Weiler 3-4