July 22, 1998

PALERMO, Sicily – Righthander Rod Cordemans tossed a four hitter and the Netherlands capitalized on two costly errors en route to a 3-1 upset victory over the United States in Wednesday afternoons opening game of the International Baseball Association’s XXXIII World Championship.

The USA (26-10)–which was coming off a commanding three-game sweep of Canada–will look to get back on the winning track in a Thursday night game against Korea, with University of Houston lefthander Shane Nance (5-0, 1.54 ERA) set to take the mound for the USA. The top four teams from group A and group B (the USAs group) will advance to the quarterfinals, following round-robin play.

Notre Dame sophomore third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) went 2-for-4 with his 10th double of the summer and two strikeouts, in addition to making a costly third-inning error. Ust raised his summer batting average to .392 (31-for-79), ranking first on the squad among players with 60-plus ABs and third overall behind Baylor junior first baseman John Scheschuck (.429, 56 ABs) and USC sophomore first baseman Eric Munson (.395, 38 ABs).

University of Miami sophomore righthander Alex Santos (2-1) was the hard-luck loser, as two of the three runs credited to him were unearned. Santos had five strikeouts while allowing nine hits and five walks over eight and two-thirds innings. Mississippi State sophomore righthander Matt Ginter recorded the final out, allowing one hit and one walk.

Cordemans strong nine-inning outing included five strikeouts, four walks and four hits allowed. The lone USA run came in the second inning, when UNLV sophomore rightfielder Ryan Ludwick sent a solo shot to left-center field for his seventh home run of the summer.

Eddy Dix walked to open the Netherlands half of the third inning and catcher Randolph Balentins then sent a groundball to Ust, who couldnt handle the ball for just his fifth error of the summer. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners over before first baseman Ken Brakmillers sacrifice fly to left field plated Dix as an unearned run.

Balentins was hit by a pitch in the fifth and advanced to third base one batter later when University of Arizona freshman second baseman Keoni DeRenne threw the ball away in an attempt to force Balentins at second. Braukmiller followed with a single to right field, bringing home Balentins for another unearned run and a 2-1 lead.

The Netherlands rallied with two outs in the ninth, using three straight singles to add an insurance run.

Cordemans kept the USA batters off balance throughout the game while working out of bases-loaded jams in the third and fifth innings.

The USAs remaining group B round-robin schedule includes games against Taiwan on Friday, Russia on Saturday and Nicaragua on Sunday. The USA then will have an off-day on Sunday before facing Australia on Tuesday and Canada on Wednesday.

The USA will have another off-day on Thursday, July 30, with the quarterfinals set to begin on Friday, Aug. 1.