June 23, 1999
Tokyo, JAPAN – The USA baseball team opened a five-game series with a 4-1 loss to the Japan Collegiate All-Star team on Wednesday at Meiji-Jingu Stadium. Notre Dame sophomore righthander Aaron Heilman (1-1) suffered his first loss with Team USA, after allowing three runs, three hits and three walks over the first three innings.
Japan’s Akichika Yamada (1-0) totaled 10 strikeouts in a complete-game effort. The USA owned a 7-5 edge in hits but managed to push across just a single run.
Japan jumped ahead in the first inning on an RBI triple by Ikuro Katsuragi and Takeshi added a tripled to right-center in the second, plating Satoshi Kubota who had singled to lead off the inning. Watanabe then scored on a sacrifice fly by Yosuke Shinomiya to make it 3-0.
Team USA (4-3) scored its only run in the top of the fourth, when UCLA leftfielder Bill Scott connected on the first pitch of the inning for a home run to left field. Kentucky designated hitter John Wilson was the only USA player with more than one hit, collecting a pair of singles.
Japan added another run in the bottom of the fourth, when Watanabe hit a run-scoring double off Vanderbilt righthander Mark Prior, who pitched five solid innings (2 H, 3 BB, 2 Ks).
The USA leads the all-time series against Japan, 17-10, and won three of four games versus Japan in 1998 (in the U.S.). Japan won the 1997 series, four games to one.
Game two is scheduled to be played Thursday night in Ibaragi, Japan.
Heilman-who had not allowed an earned run or a walk in his previous six and two-thirds innings-had two strikeouts in the losing effort, giving his 12 total Ks with Team USA in 9.2 innings.