July 20, 1998
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The USA baseball team posted a three-game sweep of Canada on July 15-17, in its final tuneup prior to heading for the World Junior Championship in Italy (July 22-Aug. 2).
Notre Dame sophomore third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) started the first and third games of the Canada series, going 3-for-8 with a triple, three RBI, two runs scored and a walk. Ust heads to Canada with the fourth-best batting average on Team USA, at .387 (29-for-75).
The USA players experienced an added thrill on Tuesday, July 14, as part of a special pre-game ceremony at the New York Mets–Atlanta Braves game. The Shea Stadium public address announcer introduced each member of Team USA while also mentioning each player’s respective home town.
The Canada series held further significance for Ust, as the opener was played at Waterfront Park in Trenton, N.J.–home to the AA Trenton Thunder and site of the 1999 BIG EAST Conference baseball tournament–while the second game was played in Norwich, Conn. at Dodd Stadium, home of the AA Norwich Navigators and site of the BIG EAST Tournament from 1996-98. The series finale was played in New Haven, Conn. at Yale Field, home of the AA New Haven Ravens.
Ust played a big role in the 12-6 opener, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored and a two-run triple in the clinching six-run eighth inning. He was a late-game substitution in the 8-4 game-two win before going 1-for-3 with an RBI and walk in the 10-4 series finale.
The USA (26-9) opens up play at the World Championship on Wednesday versus the Netherlands, as part of group B in the 16-team tournament. After seven days of round-robin competition, the top four teams from group A and top four from group B will advance to the quarterfinals. Other teams in group B include Australia, the familiar Canada squad, Taiwan, Korea, Nicaragua and Russia.
Group A includes defending champ Cuba and the host team Italy, plus China, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Panama, South Africa and Spain.
CANADA SERIES NOTES: Two Canada errors led to four unearned runs in the decisive 8th inning of the opener … that six-run rally included an RBI single from ASU sophomore LF Willie Bloomquist, a two-run double by LSU sophomore C Brad Cresse and Ust’s two-run triple … Rice sophomore LHP Mario Ramos (6-2, 3.62) picked up the win, allowing two runs on hour hits and one walk over the final three innings (with three K’s) … Miami sophomore RHP Alex Santos allowed four runs on seven hits over the first six innings, with six K’s … the USA tied the game with two runs in the 7th, behind a two-run double by USC sophomore DH Eric Munson … Houston sophomore LHP Shane Nance (5-0, 1.54) tossed six strong innings in the second game, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks while racking up 10 K’s … the game was tied 3-3 after two innings but the USA scored single runs in the 3rd, 4th and 5th … Cresse punctuated the win with a two-run shot in the 9th, his team-leading 9th home run of the summer … Jon McDonald pitched two innings of relief (1 R,1 H, 1 BB) while fellow FSU State freshman RHP Nick Stocks (1 H, 2 BB, 4 BF) and Mississippi State sophomore RHP Matt Ginter (1 K, 1 groundout) closed out the 9th, with Ginter notching his fourth save … Texas A&M sophomore LHP Casey Fossum (3-1) won the series finale in relief of Clemson sophomore RHP Ryan Mottl … Fossum allowed one run on three hits and two walks over five innings, with two K’s … Stanford sophomore 1B John Gall smacked his 3rd home run of the summer in the final World Championship tuneup.