Cal's Blake Smith Helps USA Baseball Team to Undefeated Season and FISU Gold Medal
July 28, 2008
BRNO, CZECH REPUBLIC - University of California right fielder/right-handed pitcher Blake Smith was instrumental in the USA Baseball National (Collegiate) Team capturing the gold medal at the IV FISU World Collegiate Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic this past weekend as the USA squad defeated Chinese-Taipei, 3-0, on Saturday; and topped Japan, 1-0 in 12 innings for the title on Sunday, July 27. Not only did Smith, who will be a junior next spring for the Golden Bears, helped pace Team USA to an undefeated 24-0 record, he was the team's leading hitter during the national team's summer tour with a .327 average.
Smith, from Modesto, Calif., had an RBI double with two outs in the seventh inning in the Team USA's semifinal victory Saturday over Chinese-Taipei at Mestsky Stadium in Brno, Czech Republic. Even though he did not get a hit in the gold medal contest versus Japan, Smith still finished the summer 18-for-55 (.327) overall with five doubles, a triple, three home runs and 13 RBI in 20 games. He was also one of the national team's top relievers, sporting a 1-0 record with a 0.00 ERA and two saves, striking out 11 batters with only three hits and three walks in 9.0 innings.
The USA National Team (which is not the USA Beijing Olympic baseball team) won its third-straight FISU title with pool play victories over Korea (5-2), Czech Republic (8-2), Lithuania (30-1), Canada (4-3), Japan (9-3) and Chinese-Taipei (3-2 in 11 innings). Top games for Smith during the World Collegiate Baseball Tournament included going 2-for-2 with two RBI against Japan July 23; 2-for-3 with a double, home run and five RBI versus Lithuania July 20; and 2-for-2 with a home run versus Korea on July 18.
Another highlight for Smith and the national team was defeating Cuba twice during the 24th Haarlem Baseball Week, July 5-13 at Pim Mullier Stadium in Haarlem, The Netherlands. Team USA topped Cuba, 1-0 July 6, and, 4-1, in the gold medal game July 13. The team fielded by Cuba for the Haarlem Baseball Week was the same roster minus one player from Cuba's 2006 silver-medal World Baseball Classic and 2004 gold-medal Athens Olympic Games teams. It also is the same team that will compete in the 29th Olympiad next month in Beijing. Smith was 1-for-3 with a home run versus the Cuban squad in the championship game.
During this past spring, Smith batted .296 with 11 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs and 43 RBI for Cal (33-21-2). On the mound, he was 3-0 with a 3.80 ERA and had 36 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. Smith also threw two runners out at the plate from right field during the year and hit a two-run homer against Long Beach State at the NCAA Regional in Long Beach.
Smith is the second Bear in the past two summers to standout for the USA National Team. Last summer right-hander Tyson Ross was 4-1 with a 0.82 ERA for Team USA.