What college student would say no to spending a few days or weeks in Europe? If you are a college baseball player, the month of July just might be something that you circle on your summer calendar. That’s because there is a pretty good baseball tournament that takes place at this time of the summer. The event is called the Honkbalweek Tournament and features countries like Cuba, Japan, Italy, the host country the Netherlands, and the USA. This is a seven-day event with three games being played a day. Some good baseball is on display for the world to see. This is a wooden bat tournament that features games that are seven innings long as opposed to the more traditional nine-inning affairs.
As of this writing, Team USA has already played three games. To this point in the event, the Red & White & Blue have a record of 2-1. Pitching has been a staple of this team so far. The staff has allowed only one unearned run in those three games. It came in their first game vs Japan, a game they would lose in walk-off fashion 1-0. Since that loss, the pitching has been near perfect with back-to-back shutouts of Italy. First, it was 9-0 over this past weekend, then on Monday, they backed up that performance with a 2-0 shutout of Cuba.
In the Italy game last Saturday, Team USA broke open the game with an eight-run fourth inning. Kyle Teel (Virginia) had a bases-clearing double to get that frame off to a good start. Teel would also score on a throwing error. Yohandy Morales (Miami) crushed a HR to right field to make it a 5-0 game, and the rout was on. Enrique Bradford (Vanderbilt) added a two-run triple. Wyatt Langford (Florida) finished the explosion with a sac-fly. Four pitchers, Hunter Elliott (Ole Miss), Ryan Bruno (Stanford), Zach Agrios (ECU), and Joseph Gonzales (Auburn) combined on a five-hit shutout with Gonzales picking up the win. Teel, Bradford, and Morales each had two hits. Italy did have opportunities to score in both the first and third innings, but Elliott was up to the challenge each time.
On Monday, Team USA took on Cuba, and once again it was a game that was dominated by good pitching on both sides. Head Coach Mike Blanco called on Tanner Hall (So. MIss) to start. Hall got the job done going the first four innings, allowing three hits, zero runs, two walks, and seven strikeouts. The only trouble Hall got into was in the fourth. Three straight hits loaded the bases with one out. Hall would punch out the next two hitters to escape the jam. USA bats, for the most part, were silent in this game. However, when they needed big at-bats they got them. Back-to-back two-out RBI base hits in the third from Gonzales and Langford would be all the offense could muster or need. They would be the only hits they had for the game. Coach Blanco went back to his pen and called on Teddy McCraw (Wake Forest). All he did was go three innings, giving up one hit, and one balk. The balk almost became important as it allowed Cuba another chance at getting back into the game. With runners at second and third and the go-ahead run at the plate in the sixth, McCraw struck out the next two Cuban hitters to keep the shutout in tack. McCraw got the save and Hall the win. Team USA pitching has gone 14 innings without allowing a run.
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