June 15, 1998
TUCSON, Ariz. – The USA baseball team rallied for two runs in the eighth inning and a 4-3 victory over Canada, in the third game of a five-game series Friday night at Hi Corbett Field. Team USA (6-1) avoided its second straight loss to Canada, which posted a 1-0 win over the Americans on Thursday.
In other news released Saturday by USA Baseball, Notre Dame sophomore third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.)–who did not play in Friday’s game–was selected as one of 26 players who will represent Team USA at the upcoming World Championship qualifier in Managua, Nicaragua. Notre Dame freshman righthander Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.)–who saw his only action with Team USA on Wednesday (1 IP, 1 BB, 1 HP, 1 K)–is one of 18 players who were released or withdrew from consideration. Heilman now will head for Alaska, where he will join two other Irish players–freshman leftfielder Alec Porzel and sophomore righthander Steve Szczepanski–as members of the Fairbanks Goldpanners summer-league team.
Ust is the only remaining player on the Team USA roster, which ultimately will be trimmed to 22 players for the World Championship, who hails from a college or university located in the Midwest or East. Four other such players were among the 18 players who were cut or withdrew: Heilman, Minnesota sophomore lefthander Ben Birk, St. John’s freshman righthander Kevin McGerry and Delaware sophomore outfielder Kevin Mench.
In addition to the United States, the 10-team qualifier tournament (June 17-26) will feature Argentina, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela. The ensuing World Championship (July 21-Aug. 2) will feature reigning world champion Cuba, the host country Italy, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, the Netherlands, Spain and Russia. Five additional teams will qualify from the Americas while the African champion and Oceanian champion also will compete.
Miami sophomore righthander Alex Santos is expected to start for the USA in tonight’s game while Canada is scheduled to counter with righthander Dave Steffler.
Friday’s winning rally included an RBI double down the leftfield line by Stanford first baseman John Gall, plating Miami sophomore shortstop Bobby Hill. UNLV rightfielder Ryan Ludwick then singled to center, plating Gall for the final 3-2 margin. Birk picked up the win with four shutout relief innings, facing two batters over the minimum while totaling six strikeouts, one hit allowed and no walks. Clemson sophomore righthander Ryan Mottl allowed three runs on five hits and three walks over the first five innings, with five K’s.
Canada plated a run in the second inning and added two more in the top of the fifth before Team USA pushed across a run in the bottom of the inning, when LSU sophomore DH Brad Cresse scored from third on a wild pitch. Cresse then doubled to left-center in the seventh, plating Ludwick for a 3-2 deficit.
ROSTER NOTES: Ust is one of six IFs (excluding 1Bs) left on the roster, including one other primary 3B–Cal State Fullerton sophomore Ryan Owens, the team’s top hitter (.733, 11-for-15, 6 RBI, 6 runs, 1 HR, 2 2B, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 E in 9 chances). The other IFs include: Hill, USC freshman SS Seth Davidson, Arizona freshman 2B Keoin DeRenne and California freshman 2B Xavier Nady. … Ust is 3-for-9 in 4 games (3 starts), with 1 RBI, 2 runs, 1 triple, 1 walk, 2 K’s and 9 fielding plays without an error. Davidson has played 2 games (0-for-3, K, 6 chances without an error) while fellow switch hitter Hill is 4-for-13 (.308) in 6 games, with 4 RBI, 5 runs, 1 double, 2 triples, 1 walk, 1 K, 2-of-2 stolen bases and 2 errors in 15 chances. The switch-hitting DeRenne is 5-for-15 in 5 games (2 RBI, 3 R, 2B, 2 BB, K, 1-2 SB, 17 chances without an E) while Nady is 3-for-10 in 4 games (RBI, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 3 K, 8 chances without an E). … Gall is the team’s second-best hitter (.563, 9-for-16), with 8 RBI, 5 runs, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 1 walk, 1 K, 1-1 stolen bases and 38 chances without an error. The team’s other 1B is Texas A&M junior lefthanded hitter John Scheschuk (3-for-8, RBI, R, 3B, 3 BB, K, 1 E in 29 chances). … Texas Tech switch-hitting sophomore Josh Bard–a high school battery mate of Notre Dame’s 1998 first-round draft pick Brad Lidge– has been the team’s primary C, hitting 4-for-16 in six games (5 RBI, K, SF, 39 chances without an E). Cresse has split time as a C and DH, hitting 3-for-13 in 6 games (2 RBI, 2 R, HR, 2B,2 BB, K, 10 chances without an error). Arizona State freshman Casey Myers, a 1B/C, has appeared in 2 games (3-for-5, 4 RBI, 2B, 3B, BB, 0 fielding chances). … The four surviving outfielders are: Ludwick, Arizona State sophomore Willie Bloomquist, Clemson freshman Patrick Boyd and Baylor junior Jon Topolski. Ludwick has played primarily RF, batting .389 (7-for-18, 5 RBI, 7 R, HR, 3B, 2B, BB, 2 K, 1-1 SB). Bloomquist, a middle infielder at ASU, has played solely in LF while batting .308 (4-for-13, 2 R, 2 2B, 3 BB, 2-2 SB). The switch-hitting Boyd and Topolski have shared duties in CF, with Boyd hitting .333 (5-for-15, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2B,4 BB, 4 K, SF) while the lefthanded-hitting Topolski owns a .286 average (4-for-14, 2 RBI, 3 R, HR, 2 BB, 4 K, 2-3 SB). … Just four of the 11 remaining pitchers have appeared in more than one game this summer. The staff includes eight RHPs: Mottl (1-0, 4.09, GP, 11 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 14 K), Santos (0.00, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K), Mississippi St. sophomore Matt Ginter (0.00, 1 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K), Baylor sophomore Jason Jennings (1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K), Florida St. freshmen Jon McDonald (0.00, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K) and Nick Stocks (9.00, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K), Stanford freshman Justin Wayne (yet to pitch) and Texas Tech junior Shane Wright (1-0, 4.50, 2 GP, 6 IP, 9 H,2 BB, 4 K). … The three LHPs are: Texas A&M sophomore Casey Fossum (1-0, 1.00, 2 GP, 9 IP 11 H, 1 BB, 12 K), Houston sophomore Shane Nance (0.00, 2 IP, 1 H, 4 K) and Rice sophomore Mario Ramos (1-0, 1.50, 2 GP, 6 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 11 K). … Two 3B were among the 18 players who were released or withdrew: LSU sophomore Blair Barbier and Arizona junior Omar Moraga. Other position players who did not make the 26-man roster: Mench, FSU freshman OF Matt Diaz, Baylor sophomore C Bryan Loeb, Louisville sophomore C James McAuley, USC sophomore C Eric Munson, North Carolina sophomore IF Brian Roberts and Washington sophomore OF Kyle Woods. Joining Heilman, Birk and McGerry among the nine pitchers who did not make the 26-man roster: Rice sophomore RHP Jeff Nichols, Fresno St. sophomore RHP Casey Rowe, NE Louisiana sophomore RHP Ben Sheets, Oklahoma St. freshman LHP Matt Smith and Arkansas RHPs David Walling and Dan Wright.