Team USA Falls To Puerto Rico, As Mercer Helps In 9th Inning Rally
Puerto Rico 8, USA 4
Puerto Rico’s grand slam in the top of the 10th inning broke a 4-4 tie and gave Team USA the loss in their first World Cup/Pan Am tournament game. Former Pirate farmhand Todd Redmond (Braves) made the start for Team USA, but he gave up 3 runs to Puerto Rico in the top of the 1st. CF Raymond Fuentes opened the game with a single, then former Indy Indian SS Luis Figueroa worked a walk. A single and a fielding error by USA LF Brett Carroll (Red Sox) allowed Fuentes to score. Figueroa scored on an RBI single by 1B Neftali Soto, and LF Jesus Feliciano’s sacrifice fly added the third run of the inning. Redmond buzzed through the next 5 innings, allowing only one single.
Team USA did not have a hit until DH Chad Tracy (Rangers) singled in the 4th. The US got onto the scoreboard in the 6th. 3B Tommy Mendonca (Rangers) led off the inning with a single, then CF Jordan Danks (White Sox) and CF Brett Jackson (Cubs) both walked to load the bases. 2B Joe Thurston (Marlins) drove in both Mendonca and Danks with a single through the right side of the infield, and the US had cut the lead to 3-2.
Puerto Rico added a run in the top of the 9th on a double and a single, pushing the score to 4-2. Team USA rallied in the bottom of the 9th and dramatically tied the score. 1B Matt Clark (Padres) started the rally with a single into right field, then Tracy walked. Pinch-runner AJ Pollock (Diamondbacks) came in for Tracy. Mendonca dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. C Travis D’Arnaud (Blue Jays) moved Team USA to within one run with a double into center field, driving in Clark, though Pollock was held up at third base. Danks was intentionally walked, and that brought up SS Jordy Mercer. Mercer grounded to third for a fielder’s choice, but the Puerto Ricans did not make an out, and Pollock scored the tying run. Jackson followed with a grounder to first, which became a fielder’s choice with a throw back to the plate for the force out at home. A fly out ended the inning, and the game went into extras.
Per international rules, the top of the 10th began with Puerto Rico placing runners on first and second, with Fuentes at the plate. Fuentes singled to load the bases. Then the diminutive Luis Figueroa blasted a grand slam over the left field wall to give Puerto Rico an 8-4 lead. Team USA also got to begin their half of the 10th with two runners on base (Carroll and Thurston). But the next three batters went down in order, and Team USA suffered the loss.
Jordy Mercer was 0-for-5 with one RBI in the game.
In other Tournament Play:
Canada 3, Japan 1
A walk and an RBI double by 1B Jimmy Van Ostrand gave the Canadians their first run in the bottom of the 1st. Two more Canadian runs scored in the 4th, on a single and two doubles, with DH Tim Smith collecting those two RBI. Team Canada’s starter, Shawn Hill, pitched 5 scoreless innings and allowed just 3 hits. After he was relieved to begin the 6th, Japan scored their only run, which was unearned. A walk and two ground outs put a runner on third, and that runner scored on a fielding error at second base. Former Pirate farmhand Dustin Molleken came on in relief to begin the top of the 8th. He gave up a single and a walk, and got two outs before being relieved, and the runners did not come around to score. Another former Pirate farmhand, LF Jamie Romak went 0-for-4 in the game.