Team USA Defeats Japan To Win Gold Medal
Aug. 1, 2004
TAINAN, Taiwan (www.USABaseball.com) -- Center fielder Drew Stubbs (Fr., Texas, Atlanta, Texas) hit the game-winning two-run triple in the fifth inning as the 2004 USA Baseball National Team came from behind to defeat Japan 4-2 to win the gold medal in the FISU II World University Baseball Championship Sunday night at Tainan Stadium.
The victory capped a perfect 8-0 run through the seven-team tournament, ending the summer season with an 18-7 record, including winning 12 of the last 14 games. Japan had previously swept Team USA the five-game USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star series in early July, but the Americans had the last word winning Friday 5-3 and today in the decisive gold medal game.
Starting pitcher Luke Hochevar (So., Tennessee, Fowler, Colo.) earned his first decision of the summer to improve to 1-0 with a near-dominating performance. The hard-throwing right-hander gave up two runs and three hits in the first inning, but settled into a groove to at one point retire 18 straight batters. Hochevar ended up scattering five hits and struck out seven in seven innings. Relievers Joey Devine (So., NC State, Junction City, Kan.), Cesar Ramos (So., Long Beach State, Pico Rivera, Calif.) and closer J. Brent Cox (So., Texas, Bay City, Texas) sealed the win with two combined scoreless innings.
Japan jumped out to the early lead with a pair of two out runs. After getting two quick outs, Shinichi Takeuchi singled up the middle to start the rally. Left fielder Shoitsu Omatsu followed with a triple down the right field line and Yuichi Tabata staked the Japanese to the 2-0 lead with a single.
Japanese starting pitcher Yasuhiro Ichiba had a perfect game through three innings before Stubbs led off the fourth inning with a single. A walk to Travis Buck (So., Arizona State, Richland, Wash.) and a pair of balks plated a run to cut the lead to 2-1. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (So, Virginia, Virginia Beach, Va.) tied the game while grounding into a double play.
Team USA took the lead in its next at-bat when Stubbs drilled the two-out, two-run triple to the left field gap. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (So., Long Beach State, Sunnyvale, Calif.) singled and second baseman Chris Valaika (Fr., UC Santa Barbara, Valencia, Calif.) drew a two-out walk to set the table for Stubbs. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year drilled the first offering from Ichiba to the left field gap to clear the bases and give Team USA the 4-2 lead.
Japan had a scoring opportunity in the top of the eighth inning putting a pair of runners on base with only one out. Ramos came out of the bullpen to get a pair of groundouts to preserve the two-run lead. Cox came in and recorded his third save in as many days and fourth of the tournament.
Team USA and Japan each had six hits in the game with Stubbs leading the way going 2-for-4 with his two-run triple. Zimmerman went 1-for-3 with his team-leading 12th double and finished the summer with the National Team single-season record for batting average at .468 (36-for-77). First baseman Alex Gordon (So., Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb.) went 0-for-3 in the contest, but earned offensive MVP honors in the tournament batting .524 (11-for-21) with eight runs and two home runs in the tournament.
Ichiba earned the loss on the mound giving up four hits and four runs in 4.2 innings. No Japanese player recorded more than one hit in the game.
Game Notes: Alex Gordon earned the tournament batting title with a .524 (11-for-21) batting average, including eight runs scored, one double, two home runs and five RBI... Ryan Zimmerman (Virginia) hit .375 (9-for-24) with four doubles and a home run to earn tournament MVP honors... Zimmerman ended up winning the team Triple Crown by batting .468 with four home runs and 27 RBI... he tied for the team lead in home runs (4) with Troy Tulowitzki (Long Beach State) and Gordon... Hochevar gave up two or more runs in the first inning in three of his four starts this summer... each time he bounced back to dominate not giving up a run between the second and sixth innings (23.0 IP)... Travis Buck (Arizona State) was hitless for only the fourth time this summer, but ended up batting .412 (28-for-68) and .400 (10-for-25) in the tournament... the bullpen was dominating in the eight-game tournament, not giving up an earned run in 20.0 innings... closer J. Brent Cox (Texas) earned a win and four saves in the tournament, including saves in the last three games... the pitching staff combined for a stellar 1.19 ERA in the tournament, giving up only nine earned runs and striking out 83 in 68.0 innings... the staff ended the summer with a 3.03 ERA, lowering the mark 84 points from prior to the start of the FISU World University Baseball Championship.
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