July 6, 1998
TUCSON, Arizona - The USA baseball team split two games Monday night at Hi Corbett
Field, dropping the seven-inning opener to Australia (8-5) before
posting yet another close win, 4-3 over Japan in the fourth game
of a five-game series.
The USA (19-9) has clinched the Japan series, 3-1, heading into
Tuesday night's series finale, with Florida State freshman Jon
McDonald (0-0, 1.80) slated to make his first start of the
summer. The Americans now are 9-2 in games this summer decided by
one run or in extra innings.
Notre Dame sophomore third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) did
not play in Monday's first game before going 2-for-3 with a
double, sacrifice bunt and run scored versus Japan, bumping his
summer batting average to .362. Ust is one of 26 players on a
roster that will be trimmed to 22 for the World Championship
(July 21-Aug. 2 in Italy).
After the Japan series, the USA will play a four-game series
versus Mexico, July 8-11 in Tucson. The final three pre-World
Championship games will be played in the east versus Canada, in
Trenton, N.J. (July 15), Norwich, Conn. (July 16) and New Haven,
Conn. (July 17).
Australia scored in each of the first five innings en route to an
8-0 lead. Baylor righthander Jason Jennings (3-1) took the loss,
allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks over
two and one-third innings, with one strikeout. Stanford
righthander Justin Wayne made just his second appearance of the
summer, allowing five runs over the final four and two-thirds
innings on seven hits and two walks (four K's).
The USA used five hits to score four runs in the seventh inning
and brought the tying run to the plate but could not complete the
Arizona freshman second baseman Keoni DeRenne provided a crucial
two-run single in the eighth inning of the nightcap, pushing the
USA to a 4-1 lead. Japan then scored twice in the bottom of the
inning before DeRenne fielded a sharp grounder and nailed the
potential tying baserunner at the plate.
Clemson sophomore righthander Ryan Mottl (2-0) allowed one run
over seven innings, scattering seven hits and two walks while
striking out four. Minnesota sophomore lefthander Ben Birk then
recorded just one out while allowing two runs on three hits
before Mississippi State sophomore righthander Matt Ginter came
on for his third save, facing six batters while recording one
walk and two K's.
The USA has clinched the 27th annual USA-Japan College Baseball
Championship series and owns a 17-10 edge in the series history
(the Americans have never lost a series to Japan on home soil).
Ust and Cal State Fullerton sophomore third baseman Ryan Owens
have produced similar numbers through 28 USA games. Ust has
appeared in 21 games with 15 starts while batting .362
(21-for-58), with 11 RBI, 10 runs, one triple, eight doubles,
seven walks, 15 K's, 1-for-3 on stolen bases, one sacrifice fly
and one sac. bunt. Ust has made four errors on 40 fielding
chances, for a .900 fielding percentage.
Owens has played in 23 games with 16 starts while batting .349
(22-for-63), with 18 RBI, 12 runs, one home run, two triples, six
doubles, four walks, four times hit-by-pitch, 13 K's, two double
plays hit into, 2-for-2 on stolen bases and one sacrifice fly.
Owens has made four errors on 30 chances (.867). He went 2-for-4
with an RBI and run scored Monday versus Australia but also made
an early error that cost a run.