July 12, 2002
Notre Dame pitcher Grant Johnson (Burr Ridge, Ill.) will draw his second start with the USA National Baseball Team in one of the squad’s biggest games of the summer, on Monday, July 15 (6:00 p.m.) at Mills Field in Strongsville, Ohio. The USA – which is nearing a trip to The Netherlands for an international tournament (July 19-29), followed by the World Championship in Messina, Italy (April 3-11) – concludes its 17-game domestic “Red, White and Blue Tour” with four games in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville. The Northern Ohio Baseball Club – an entry in the wooden-bat Great Lakes League – is the opponent on Friday through Sunday (at 7:00, 5;00 and 6:00) while Johnson will face the Great Lakes League All-Star team in Monday’s tour finale (note that several of these start times had changed from original schedules).
The Delaware (Ohio) Cows website will provide an internet broadcast of Monday’s game at www.delawarecows.com while live stats for all remaining Team USA games can be found at www.usabaseball.com/natl_schedule.html.
Johnson is coming off a strong outing last Sunday in an 8-1 win over the Sanford Mainers, when the rising sophomore righthander allowed one run on four hits and one walk over seven innings, with eight strikeouts.
One of the USA’s ace pitchers, Wake Forest’s Kyle Sleeth, is the scheduled starter for Friday night while the probable weekend starters include Rice’s Phil Humber and consensus first team All-American Brad Sullivan of Houston. Team USA owns an 11-2 summer record, with both losses coming vs. the Japan All-Stars.
Johnson is part of a dominating pitching staff that owns a 1.45 team ERA and .198 opponent batting average, plus nearly a 4.5 K-to-walk ratio (142/32) in 118 innings pitched. His 2.08 ERA checks in at sixth on the 10-pitcher staff (Humber’s 2.79 is good for only ninth) while Johnson’s .179 opponent batting average trails four of his teammates (his two outings also have yielded eight Ks, three walks and five hits allowed in 8.2 innings).
The top three starters have posted impressive numbers in three starts, led by Sullivan (who joined ND’s Steve Stanley as one of four consensus first team All-Americans in 2002). Sullivan is 3-0 with an 0.74 ERA and .114 opponent batting avg. in 24.1 innings (25 Ks, 5 BB, 9 H). Sleeth owns nearly-identical numbers – 3-0, 0.78 ERA, .181 opp. batting avg., 27 Ks, 4 BB, 15 H – while Georgia Tech LHP Kyle Bakker is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA and .266 opp. batting avg. (16.2 IP, 21 Ks, 2 BB, 17 H).
NOTES: The GLL All-Stars include several from familiar teams for ND fans: C Pat O’Brien (Kent State), 1Bs Kelly Hunt (Bowling Green) and Peter Varon (Oakland), 2B Chris Welsch (Kent State), OFs Dave Barkholz (BG) and Sean Dobson (Toledo) and RHPs Matt Davis (Ohio State), Brian Lynch (Ball State) and Brad Mumma (Western Michigan) – other position players on the all-star roster include Case Western 3B Eric Macha, Pepperdine 1B Chris Kelly and SS Kevin Estrada, Oklahoma State 3B/DH Mitch Mitchell, Buffalo 3B Bryan Sanchez, Vermont OF Jason Carry, USC OF Travis McAndrews and Elon OF Brad Whitman – the Delaware Cows will announce their All-Decade team prior to their home game on Saturday, to commemorate their 10th season – with former Notre Dame CF Steve Stanley to be named the Cows “Player of the Decade” (he was the 2001 GLL player of the year).
13-GAME STATS UPDATE: Three USA relievers have yet to allow an earned run: Cal State Fullerton’s Chad Cordero (0-1, 8.1 IP, 4 H, 16 Ks, 3 BB), Southwest Missouri closer Bob Zimmerman (2 SV, 5.2 IP, H, 8 Ks, 0 BB) and Texas closer/USA setup man Huston Street (4.1 IP, 2 H, 8 Ks, 0 BB) – the other three pitchers on the staff include Humber (2.79, 1-1, 9.2 IP, 8 H, 11 Ks, 9 BB), Cordero’s CSF teammate Wes Littleton (2.61, 1-0, 10. 1 IP, 8 K, 10 Ks, 5 BB) and Long Beach State LHP Abe Alvarez (4.05, 6.2 IP, 12 H, 8 Ks, BB) – the USA is hitting just .296 with 9 home runs, 4 triples, 26 doubles, 13 stolen bases, 47 walks and 89 Ks – Tulane 1B Michael Aubrey is having a huge summer (.434, 21-for-48, 14 RBI, 3 HR) while Stanford RF Carlos Quentin is the only other USA player hitting over .355 (.382, 11 RBI, 2 HR, 4 2B) – other top hitters include California 3B Conor Jackson (.355, 4 RBI, HR, 9 R, 6 2B, 7 BB), South Carolina C Landon Powell (.351, 8 RBI, HR), LSU IF Aaron Hill (.344, 6 RBI, HR, 9 R) and Louisville OF Mark Jurich (.320, 3 RBI, HR) – three others are hitting above .160: Georgia Tech 2B Eric Patterson (.310, 6 RBI, 6 R, 8 SB, 6 BB), Fullerton OF Shane Costa (.261, 10 RBI, HR, 10 R, 4 2B) and Southern OF/IF Rickie Weeks (.256, 6 RBI, 2 R, 2 SB) – other include Arizona State SS Dustin Pedroia (.152, 2 RBI, 4 R), Stanford CF Sam Fuld (.115, 7 RBI, 4 R) and Georgia C Clint Sammons (.100 2 RBI).
Here are capsule recaps of the USA’s final three games in the New England Collegiate Baseball League series:
USA 6, CONCORD QUARRY DOGS 0 (July 8; Concord, N.H., Memorial Field) – Humber (5.2 IP, 4 H, 7 Ks, 3 BB) and two relievers combined on a four-hit shutout – Littleton then worked 1.1 innings while Cordero struck out six of the seven he faced to close the game – the USA picked up an unearned run in the 1st (vs. Brendan Ryan) – Hill reached on an error and scored on Powell’s two-out single to left – three hits in the 3rd added three more runs to the USA lead, with Fuld’s bases-loaded single plating two runs (vs. reliever Pat Dowling) – Quentin added a two-run blast to left field in the 6th, vs. Mike Smith – Jurich and Quentin each had three hits in the win.
USA 7, KEENE SWAMP BATS 1 (July 9; Keene, N.H., Alumni Field) – Aubrey did some early damage with a two-run blast in the 1st and a three-run shot in the 2nd – Sullivan allowed just one run in seven innings of work (5 H, 11 Ks, BB) – Keene’s only run came on a Trey Hendricks’ home run in the 7th – Aubrey jumped all over a pitch from David Austen in his first at-bat (homering to right) – he then delivered with two outs in his next AB, launching the ball deep over the rightfield wall – the USA’s two-run 5th included Jackson’s one-out double (scoring Quentin) and Fuld’s RBI groundout.
USA 3, NEWPORT GULLS 2 (July 11; Newport, R.I., Cardines Field) – Bakker’s strong pitching (6.2 IP, 2 R/1 ER, 4 H, 6 KS, BB) helped the USA complete the six-game sweep of the NECBL (12-0 over the last three summers) – Newport outhit the USA, 4-3 – Cordero hurled two shutout innings of relief and Zimmermann came on to get the final groundout with a runner on first – Newport’s unearned run in the 1st included two singles and a two-out throwing error by Jackson – the USA tied the game in the 3rd, when Pedroia hit a leadoff single and scored on Aubrey’s sacrifice fly – a two-out double from Bryan Pritz gave Newport a 2-1 lead in the 5th – Gulls starter Rusty Begnaud hit Quentin with a pitch to open the 6th, with walks to Jackson and Jurich then loading the bases – reliever Mark Walters walked Patterson, tying the game, and Pedroia executed squeeze bunt to score Jackson for the 3-2 lead.