June 23, 1998

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Notre Dame sophomore third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) contributed a third-inning sacrifice fly as the USA baseball team came back to win yet another close game, 6-4 over Colombia, in continuing World Championship Qualifier action Tuesday afternoon at Managua Stadium.

The USA–which already owns four one-run wins this summer–improved to 5-2 at the qualifier and needs to win one of its two remaining games to finish as one of the top five teams at the 10-team tournament, with those five teams moving on to the World Championship (July 21-Aug. 2 in Italy). Texas A&M sophomore lefthander Casey Fossum (2-0, 2.70, 4 GP, 16.2 IP, 17 K, 5 BB, 25 K) is slated to start Wednesday evening vs. one of the field’s top teams, host Nicaragua. The USA closes competition on Thursday vs. Mexico, a team that the USA swept four games to none to open the summer.

Ust drew his ninth start of the summer Tuesday, going 0-for-2 with a walk, strikeout and sacrifice fly while making the lone USA error of the game.

Miami sophomore righthander Alex Santos picked up his first decision of the summer, logging five and one-third innings while allowing three runs on six hits and two walks, with five strikeouts. Texas Tech junior righthander Shane Wright allowed one run on five hits over the next two and two-thirds innings before Mississippi State sophomore righthander Matt Ginter closed out the ninth with one hit allowed and two K’s.

Colombia (3-3) put two runs on the board in the top of the second but the USA answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Texas Tech sophomore catcher Josh Bard and UNLV sophomore rightfielder Ryan Ludwick got the rally going with walks before USC freshman leftfielder Seth Davidson and Arizona freshman second baseman Keoni DeRenne tied the game with two-out, RBI singles. DeRenne then stole second base and Davidson scampered home from third base when the catcher’s throw went into center field.

The USA tacked on two runs in the third, again ignited by a pair of walks by Miami sophomore shortstop Bobby Hill and Stanford sophomore first baseman John Gall. Bard bunted the runners over and Baylor sophomore DH Jason Jennings was intentionally walked to load the bases. Ludwick then was hit by a pitch, scoring Hill, before Ust’s flyout to center field plated Gall for a 5-2 lead.

Bard smacked his first home run of the summer in the seventh, a solo shot to right field while Colombia made things close with single runs in the sixth and eighth.

Ust is one of 26 players on the active roster, which will be trimmed to 22 for the World Championship. Tuesday’s USA batting order remained the same in the top four spots–Arizona State sophomore centerfielder Willie Bloomquist, Hill, Gall and Bard–while Jennings and Ludwick occupied the 5th and 6th spots. Ust moved up the #7 spot, followed by Davidson and DeRenne. Clemson freshman Patrick Boyd pinch hit for Davidson late in the game.

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.