June 25, 1998
MANAGUA, Nicaragua — John Gall’s two-out bloop single in the top of the 14th inning proved to be the difference as the USA Baseball team clinched a spot in the World Championship with an 8-6 victory over Nicaragua in continuing World Championship Qualifier action Wednesday night at Managua Stadium.
Notre Dame sophomore Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) doubled and scored a crucial run in the sixth inning that tied the game, 5-5. (Due to a power outage in Nicaragua, USA Baseball was unable to provide a full boxscore as of Thursday morning).
The USA (13-4 overall) improved to 6-2 at the qualifier while again winning a close game. The Americans have played eight games this summer that have been decided by 1-2 runs, winning six of them (including five at the qualifier tournament). The USA wraps up play at the qualifier on Thursday afternoon in Managua versus Mexico.
Nicaraqua (6-2) joined the USA as one of five teams who will advance to the World Championship, which will be held July 21-Aug. 2 in Italy.
The USA rallied in the 14th inning behind one-out singles to right field by Arizona freshman second baseman Keoni DeRenne and Miami sophomore shortstop Bobby Hill. The runners moved up on a groundout by Baylor sophomore DH Jason Jennings before Gall, Stanford’s sophomore first baseman, stroked the clutch two-run single to center field.
Texas Tech junior righthander Shane Wright pitched himself out of a jam in the bottom of the 14th for his first save of the summer. With two runners on base and the winning run at the plate, Wright struck out Ramon Padilla to seal the win.
Rice sophomore lefthander Mario Ramos (2-2) tossed two and one-third innings to pick up the win, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out two. Five USA pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts over the 14-inning marathon.
A grand slam from infielder Norman Cardoze gave Nicaragua a 5-2 lead in the fifth but the USA tied the game with three runs in the sixth. Gall and UNLV sophomore outfielder Ryan Ludwick smacked solo home runs, followed by consecutive doubles from Ust and Cal State Fullerton sophomore third baseman Ryan Owens.
Both teams scored once in the eighth to ultimately extend the game to extra innings. Gall paced the USA offense, going 3-for-7 with four RBI, a double and the solo home run. Cardoze led Nicaragua with a 3-for-6, five RBI effort.
Ust is one of 26 players on the active roster, which will be trimmed to 22 for the World Championship. The 16-team World Championship will include the five qualifying teams from the Americas, plus reigning champion Cuba, the host country Italy, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, the Netherlands, Spain, Russia, the African champion and the Oceanian champion.
After returning from the qualifier, Team USA has the following schedule before heading to Italy:
Sun. June 28 Korea Hi Corbett Field (Tucson, AZ)Mon. June 29 Korea Hi Corbett Field (Tucson)Tue. June 30 Korea Hi Corbett Field (Tucson)Wed. July 1 Korea Hi Corbett Field (Tucson)Thu. July 2 Australia Hi Corbett Field (Tucson)Fri. July 3 Japan Scottsdale Stadium (Scottsdale, AZ)Sat. July 4 Japan (6:05 p.m.) Hi Corbett Field (Tucson)Sun. July 5 Japan Hi Corbett Field (Tucson)Mon. July 6 Australia (5:05 p.m.; 7 innings) Hi Corbett Field (Tucson) Japan (following first game) Hi Corbett Field (Tucson)Tue. July 7 Japan Hi Corbett Field (Tucson)Wed. July 15 Canada Mercer County Waterfront Park (Trenton, NJ)Thu. July 16 Canada Thomas J. Dodd Stadium (Norwich, CT)Fri. July 17 Canada Yale Field (New Haven, CT)