July 10, 1998
TUCSON, Ariz. - The USA baseball used its same formula of balanced hitting, dominating pitching and error-free defense to post another easy win over Mexico, 11-0, in the third game of a four-game series Friday night at Hi Corbett Field.
The USA (22-9) posted its fourth shutout of the summer and second of the series, with Houston sophomore lefthander Shane Nance (4-0) adding to his strong summer by facing just 17 batters and striking out seven over five innings, with one hit and one walk allowed. Nance dropped his team-leading summer ERA to 0.93 over 29 innings, with 39 K's, eight walks and 16 hits allowed. Texas A&M sophomore lefthander Casey Fossum allowed five hits and one walk over the final four innings, with eight K's (Fossum has 51 K's and just nine walks in 34.2 innings this summer).
Baylor sophomore righthander Jason Jennings (3-1, 1.33) in expected to start the series final on Saturday night. USA Baseball also is expected to trim the 26-player squad to 22 sometime Saturday, in preparation for the upcoming World Championship in Italy (July 21-Aug. 2).
Notre Dame sophomore third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) again was a mid-game substitution for Cal State Fullerton sophomore Ryan Owens. Ust went 1-for-1 with a run scored while Owens was 1-for-2 with one RBI, two walks and two fielding assists.
The USA's 14 hits came from 11 different players, with Stanford sophomore leftfielder John Gall going 4-for-5 with two runs scored. The Americans plated two runs in the first, when Texas Tech sophomore catcher Josh Bard singled home Gall before USC sophomore DH ric Munson scored on a throwing error by first baseman Carlos Cabrera.
The USA rallied with two outs to score four times in the sixth, highlighted by Munson's RBI triple and a run-scoring double from Texas A&M junior first baseman John Scheschuk. The five-run seventh included a three-run blast to left field by LSU sophomore pinch-hitter Brad Cresse, tying him with UNLV sophomore rightfielder Ryan Ludwick for the team lead (each has six home runs).
Ust and Owens continue to battle for the starting third base spot. Owens holds the edge--often narrow--in games played (26-24), starts (18-16), at-bats (70-64), hits (26-24), RBI (23-13), runs (14-12), slugging percentage (.586-.563), on-base percentage (.444-.438) and stolen bases (2-for-2 to 1-for-3). Ust owns the better batting average (.375-.371) and fielding percentage (.907-.886) and owns eight walks to Owens' six. Both players have made four errors.
Ust once again ranks fifth on the team in batting average and has climbed to third among players with 50-plus at-bats, behind Gall (.414, 41-for-99) and Ludwick (.386, 32-for-83). Scheschuk (.458, 22-for-48) and Munson (.391, 9-for-23) also are hitting above .375.
The USA batting average stands at .332, with 24 home runs, .514 slugging and 39-of-56 stolen bases. The USA pitchers have dropped the team ERA to 3.86 over 280 innings, with a .272 opponent batting average, 292 hits allowed, 294 strikeouts and just 72 walks. The team fielding percentage remains at a lofty .973, with just 33 errors in 31 games.