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USA Baseball Splits Pair in Pacific Northwest, Heads to Japan for Five-Game Series

June 22, 1999

SALEM, Ore. – The USA baseball team split a pair of games in the Pacific Northwest before heading to Tokyo for a five-game series versus Japan’s collegiate all-star team, with that series set to begin on Wednesday, June 23.

Team USA dropped a 3-2 game in 10 innings versus the Salem Volcanoes, the single-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, on June 17 at Volcanoes Stadium in Salem, Ore. The Americans then rebounded with an 8-3 win over Canada’s national team, in a game held at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash.

Notre Dame sophomore righthander Aaron Heilman pitched the ninth inning of the win over Canada, recording two strikeouts while yielding two hits and an unearned run. Heilman has yet to allow an earned run in six and two-thirds innings of work with Team USA while totaling 10 strikeouts, no walks and four hits allowed.

The win over Canada featured 16 strikeouts from the USA pitchers, most by a USA pitching staff since 1993 and third-most in the program’s history (the 1993 team totaled 19 Ks in a game versus Argentina).

UCLA righthander Josh Karp – a Washington native – pitched six strong innings to pick up the win over Canada in his home state. Karp struck out every Canada starter en route to 10 total Ks while allowing four hits, one walk and one run (on a first-inning home run by Chris Melsness).

Oklahoma State lefthander Matt Smith worked a scoreless seventh inning in his first appearance of the summer for Team USA while Stetson lefty Len Dinardo worked the ninth. Smith and Dinardo each recorded two Ks to help boost the team total.

Offensive heroes for Team USA included North Carolina outfielder Tyrell Godwin (4-for-4, 2 RBI, double) and California outfielder Xavier Nady, who hit a two-run blast in the fifth inning for his fifth home run of the summer.

The USA dropped the Salem game in the 10th inning, as Volcanoes outfielder Ali Cepeda-the son of Giants great Orlando Cepeda-scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch from Arizona righthander Ben Diggins, who was facing his first batter in relief of Texas lefty Phil Seibel.

The Americans jumped ahead in the Salem game, when UCLA outfielder Bill Scott scored on a sacrifice fly from Texas A&M outfielder Daylan Holt. Arizona shortstop Keoni DeRenne added an RBI double in the fifth, plating Godwin.

UCLA righthander Jon Brandt worked five strong innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits. Vanderbilt’s Mark Prior followed with two hitless, shutout innings of relief. The Volcanoes finally tied the game in the eighth when former Boston College great Sean McGowan doubled home the tying run with two outs off Houston righthander Kyle Crowell.

The game with Salem marked the first game of the summer in which Team USA played using wooden bats.

The USA baseball team arrived in Tokyo on Monday, June 21, afternoon after a 10-hour flight from Seattle, Wash. The Americans were scheduled to practice on Tuesday afternoon in Tokyo as they prepare to take on the Japan Collegiate All-Star team in a five-game series, beginning on Wednesday, June 23.

The 28th annual USA versus Japan Collegiate Baseball Series gets underway with game one on Wednesday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. at Meiji-Jingu Stadium in Tokyo. The Americans lead the all-time series against Japan, 17-10.