We are joined by two-time USA Baseball alum and 2009 World Champion Trevor Plouffe. Trevor won a silver medal a member of the former 16U National Team back in 2002, and won a gold medal at the IBAF World Cup in 2009 in Italy as a member of the Professional National Team.
After being taken in the first round of the 2004 MLB Draft, he spent eight years in the Big Leagues with the Minnesota Twins, Oakland As, Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies. He hit 106 career homers while in the Bigs, and his USA Baseball and pro careers includes two very memorable walk-off home runs that we will get into.
USA Baseball (USAB): What got a young Trevor Plouffe started in baseball? Trevor Plouffe (TP): Well, I had an older brother. So, that was the start of it. My dad played baseball in high school and was always a fan of the sport. Then, he got my brother playing it and that was kind of the dynamic, right? I wanted to do everything my older brother did. So I played along with him-he's four years older than me-so I was playing catch up the entire time. He would dominate me for years and I was just trying to be like him. I think it helped be develop earlier, maybe, because I was always playing against older kids with him. But that is one hundred-percent why I fell in love with baseball, because I got to spend time with my older brother.
USAB: Was there any particular point where it clicked in your mind that you could keep up with the older guys? TP: Out of necessity we played on the same Little League team. I was eight years old and he was 12. I was good for an eight-year-old, but should I have been playing with 12 year olds? I don't know. But we had to-we lived 45 minutes from where we played, so for my parents to have two practices to go to, it just wasn't going to happen. So we were on the same team and, again, you play with those guys and they are older… you get frustrated because you're losing all the time and it drives you. And that is where I started developing a passion to be better. I just wanted to fit in.
USAB: Other than your brother, was there anyone else that served as a hero or had a strong influence in your love of baseball or sports?
TP: At that time in my life, not really. I just wanted to play and have fun with him. And then as you get older you start to watch baseball on TV… I grew up in LA-outside of LA-so I was a big Dodgers fan. I liked weird players. One of my favorite players was Brett Butler growing up and I bet that he's not been a lot for people. He was my guy. He bunted a lot. I was so small that I bunted and that was part of my game. I was a little fast so I would bunt because maybe I couldn't hit as well as the other guys. So I resonated with that. The Dodgers at the time had the five rookies of the year in a row: Mike Piazza, Todd Hollandsworth, Hideo Nomo, Eric Karros, and Raúl Mondesi, possibly. The Dodgers early on in my childhood helped my love for baseball grow.
USAB: You were named to the USA Baseball 16U National Team roster and go play in the Pan-American Youth Championships in Venezuela. What was that experience like for you, especially at such a young age? TP: It was awesome! We went to a tournament in Arizona and I was selected to try out for the team. That was the first time I felt like I was surrounded by guys who I was like, 'Whoa, this guy is really good.' [It was the] first time I really questioned myself, if I am as good as some of these guys. I went to the tryout and I was. And, it was cool I made the team, so that was a big confidence booster for me. Then we went to Venezuela and that was the first I had ever been out of the country. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I had a great time. I think we flew into Caracas, and then went to Barquisimeto and went to a bunch of a different fields. It was a completely new experience for me and it's something I will never forget. I have very vivid memories of that time: getting the silver medal-we lost to Cuba, which was tough. Being able to play against different countries [while] wearing USA across your chest… I think anybody that you ask that plays for Team USA will tell you, it is different. It's just different. It is a selfless brand of baseball. You don't care necessarily how you do, you just want to win. You don't get that a lot. Even in Pro ball, you're playing because it's your job. But [with] Team USA, it's all about red, white and blue, and it was the first time I experience that and it was great.
USAB: What were your first impressions-culturally-of how the game is treated and played across the globe, as opposed to the one style that you grew up with here in the States? TP: I think they are just a little bit more fanatical about about it, a little bit more passionate about it. I don't want to say that people in the U.S. aren't passionate about baseball. Clearly, we are. But, it's different. It's a more vocal type of passion for it. You're going to be playing against them and they're going to be cheering, and they're going to be doing different things all game. And their fans are doing the same thing! It's a different type of vibe, similar to what guys will you tell you playing winter ball. In that particular tournament, I think it was just teams from Latin America, so that vibe is wild. They party in the stands. I love that type of baseball and I love the Latin teammates I played with, bringing that energy. I just love that type of energy. That's the first thing you notice and then they are really good at baseball.. It's our national pastime but these countries are really good at baseball.
USAB: You were drafted in the first round to the Minnesota Twins as a teenager. What was your transition like with this sort of fast forwarding in your baseball career? You were playing high school baseball and then all of a sudden it's professional? TP: The biggest thing-and it's similar to what I said earlier-when you start to play in tryouts, [I'm] not sure if I was good enough. I was a first rounder, 20th overall, [and I earned] all the accolades you could get in high school, so I was confident in my ability. Then you get to Spring Training and Pro ball and it's like 'Man, every single person is good.' Every single person was like I was in high school. They were the best players in their area and you just have to go and prove yourself all over again. It doesn't matter what round you go in or how much money they give you to sign. That is going to give you more opportunities to fail, but you still have to go prove yourself against the best of the best.
That was very eye opening to me when I first got to Spring Training. Everyone is just really, really good. How are you going to separate yourself? I remember being sent to Elizabethon (Editor's Note: Rookie-Level club in the Minnesota Twins system) and we had Angelo Fermin. He was a 21-year-old shortstop and he was really good, and I was like, 'I am going to have to battle this guy to play shortstop.' My teammates would say, 'Bro, you're a first rounder, you're going to play.' But, in my mind, I was like, 'This guy is better than me. I have to go be better than him or I'm not going to play.' So… that competitiveness comes back out and you have to keep going. Just because you drafted into Pro ball doesn't mean anything. You just have to go and continue to improve your game and find ways to get better.
USAB: Prior to the Draft, what was the first point in your baseball career that you felt being drafted into MLB was going to be a possibility? TP: I don't know the exact point. I did some showcase stuff-I didn't do a lot of that. I do remember one in particular. Delmon Young-a buddy of mine- was going to do some showcase and he couldn't do it, so he told the people to let me fill in for him. Again, I was young for that showcase, but I went and did well, and I think after that I started to get some notoriety. Colleges started coming to my games and [I was] thinking, 'OK, I can go to college, this is pretty cool.' That was my goal. I wanted to go to college, play baseball. I didn't want to have to pay for college, we all know about that. Nobody wants to take out of college loans or take out that debt. That was my thing in high school: I want to play in college, get an education and see where life takes me. Senior year in high school I start to realize I have a chance to get drafted but, still, my focus was to go to college. Once I had that in the bag-I signed with USC-then it was like, 'We'll see what happens.' Even on Draft day, I wasn't sure. I knew I had to get drafted pretty high to forgo going to USC. I wasn't sure it was going to happen but it ended up happening. Again, it wasn't really until late my senior year that I was really like Pro ball was a real possibility.
USAB: How do you feel about walk-off home runs? You have to be good at those. You had one big one with Team USA and one that I think is your final major league home run. Can you walk us through both of those, starting with the one with Team USA? TP: That was a great game! That was the second time I was on the U.S. team (Editor's Note: 2009 Professional National Team) and I was a professional at that time. We were in… I want to say it was Italy, but it could have been in Germany… it could have been either of those places, which was awesome. We were playing against Team Australia and I had buddies that were on the Australian team. People thing it is USA versus Australia, the U.S. should dominate. That's not the case, There is some really good Australia players. They had a bunch of those guys on that team. It was just kind of like a game we had to win… and we were back and forth with them all day. I came up in the bottom of the-I don't know if we played nine innings or seven in that tournament… I assume nine-I came up and had a good at bat. I remember the swing still. I hit and knew it was gone right away and that is one of the coolest feelings you can have as a baseball player. You ended the game. You get to slow trot around the bases. You get to see your teammates waiting for you. It's just different. USA is just different. It's a different type of baseball. It put us into a really good position to be in the Final Round, but that was the craziest emotional game I had played in, in a long time. Going through the Minor Leagues, you're not going to get too many emotional games at that point… [I was] still trying to work my way up and to have that happen was really cool. I still… when I see guys, they still remember that game.
USAB: For the second walk-off home run, you, for whatever reason, had some success against position players hitting. You were 2-for-2 in your career, including this walk-off home run in the 16th inning against the Dodgers. What was that like? TP: I had another one against Cleveland earlier in my career that was a lot of fun. But on the tail end of my career, I was starting in the Minor Leagues that year, and worked my way back up to the Bigs, which is a cool accomplishment. And then against my hometown Dodgers… I was not starting that game but I came in… I think I came on in the 10th inning-or something like that-and Rich Hill was warming up. I was going to hit and I'm stoked, I like lefties and Rich Hill is a pretty good pitcher, but I'll take my chances. And Gabe Kapler, who I grew up with and who was my manager-we just had a cool connection-and he really… we really wanted this series. It was a big series for us in the year. And, all of a sudden, we see Kike Hernández run out to the mound and I have never seen a bigger sigh of relief from someone than Kap did. He was like [audible deep sigh]. And, yes, I went up, hit a home run. I felt really confident in the at bat. I knew how to calm my emotions down so I went and hit a home run. It was great and now I do have the distinction as the best hitter ever in the history of baseball against position players pitching: 2-for-2, two home runs. I don't think anybody is ever going to beat that. If they do, 'Kudos, bro." But, right now, I've got that title. So I'm happy with that. It's kind of funny but it's true.
USAB: As far as the walk-offs are concerned: Did you have a knack for coming up with that kind of big, clutch hit? TP: No, but you know, you just want to be up in those moments. Or you better want to be up in those moments. You don't want to be the guy that shies away from that. That's not going to be good for you career. That's what you play for. You want to be the guy who wins the game. You want to be the guy who is up to bat against the good pitcher and have the chance to do something for your team. I've always… sometimes you feel nervous and that's fine, but make sure you want to be up there. That's how I've always felt. If I'm hitting fifth in the ninth and we have a chance to win the game, I'm like, 'I want two of you get out because I want to be the guy.' It sounds funny to say that but you better have that mindset or else you're just not going to succeed in those situations. There are times I wasn't as confident but I tricked myself into being confident because you have to be that way if you want to have success.
USAB: You are a two-time USA Baseball alum, once at 16U level and another at Professional level… those are drastically different points in your career. What did those experiences do for your baseball career? TP: It's a different type of baseball when you're playing with 'USA' across your chest. It's a selfless type of baseball, so I think you kind of have to have a little bit of that in you as well and I think that helps you. I'll reiterate how it made me confident. Knowing I'm playing with the best players in the country for that age group… it's something that is going to help you out a ton in your confidence. Everybody goes through that: you wanna know if you're good enough. And, a lot of times, you don't know. To go and put yourself in those situations and for the first one [16U National Team], I went through a tryout and got picked. That really helped me out. I really took that into my high school career and did well with that. When I was a Pro, I… played with the best guys in the Minor Leagues, had success, and the next year I was in the Big Leagues. I think there is a direct correlation to that. Just that confidence that it brings… I mean, when you put that jersey on it just gives you… it's automatic confidence.
USAB: Tell us about what you have going on currently with your new show called 'Sequence.' What is it and how did it come about? TP: It's really cool. I partnered up with Jomboy Media. I was a fan of their's before I started working with them. I got to meet Jimmy and Jake, who run the show there, and we had a great rapport right away. I knew right then I wanted to work with them … I met them last year in November and we've been going strong ever since. A week ago we launched my show called 'Sequence.' Basically, what it is, I take some guys that I like-the guys that are buddies of mine that are still playing in the Big Leagues-and we take them through an at-bat that they use to get their proprioception back. Every hitter has couple videos -maybe a handful of videos-that they go back and they look at to feel comfortable and to get that feeling back. I like to ask guys, 'What is your highlight?' They give me the highlight and we run through it pitch-by-pitch and it's really cool to have that flowing conversation. You're able to get crazy insights like… we had Mitch Garver on, who is the Silver Slugger award winner for catcher's last year (Editor's Note: Garver won Silver Slugger for the American League), and just to hear him talk… there is a lot of hitting on Twitter you know, guys speaking absolutes. It's fun to hear the best of the best talking about it because they are going to tell you there is more than one way to do it, this is how I approach it, and this is what I was thinking during this at bat. It's just cool to open up their minds a little bit because I don't think the public gets to see that too often. Guys are really guarded, but I try to break the walls down a little bit, let you in on what guys are thinking at the big-league-level. We have three episodes out right now, we're going to do many more. Check it out on Jomboy Media on YouTube and search for the Sequence.
USA Baseball Modifies On-Field Programming Schedule
All events continue to be subject to cancellation or postponement
May 18, 2020
CARY, N.C. - USA Baseball announced today a modified schedule of events for its 2020 summer season due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Created in adherence to the regulations set forth by the appropriate federal, state and local governments, the updated schedule is tentatively set to begin with the 14U Cup from July 24-26 at the National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.
All of these events continue to be subject to cancellation or postponement based on the future state of the evolving coronavirus situation. The organization will monitor the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), as well as consult its Medical/Safety Advisory Committee in order to evaluate the status of its upcoming tournaments.
All further decisions will be made in as timely a manner as possible with respect to the safety and well-being of all the participating athletes, coaches and fans. If these tournaments run as scheduled, teams and fans will be required to follow a series of return to play guidelines developed by USA Baseball. These guidelines will be shared with all participants within an appropriate timeframe leading up to the event.
"As the national governing body for baseball in the United States, we feel it is in the best interest of the thousands of baseball athletes in our country to postpone our return to the field due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler. "We share in the longing for baseball's return, but we believe it is prudent to continue assessing the situation and finalizing a course of action that prioritizes the overall health and safety of our participants and their families in light of the continued transmission of this disease.
"This schedule was structured in an effort to secure as many opportunities as possible for athletes who hope to one day play for Team USA. We will remain steadfast in our commitment to this charge; however, we will continue to evaluate the situation on a daily basis and monitor the guidelines set forth by the CDC and the USOPC in case additional modifications need to be made."
The following events have been tentatively rescheduled on the 2020 calendar:
• 17U National Team Championships North Carolina (July 27-30)
• 14U and 15U National Team Championships Arizona (July 27-30)
• 16U and 17U National Team Championships Arizona (July 31-August 3)
• 15U National Team Championships North Carolina (August 4-9)
• 10U Futures Invitational (August 6-9)
• 16U National Team Championships North Carolina (August 11-16)
• 11U, 12U, 13U and 14U NTIS Champions Cup (August 19-23)
• 15U and 16U NTIS Champions Cup (August 26-30)
The following events and national team programming have been cancelled:
• 11U Futures Invitational
• 13U/14U Athlete Development Program (ADP)
• 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP)
• National Team Championships Florida
The 14U Cup (July 24-26) and 11U/13U Futures Series Irvine (August 28-30) are set to take place as originally scheduled.
Additionally, USA Baseball continues to work closely with the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) with respect to the international baseball calendar. To date, the WBSC has postponed the Americas Baseball Olympic Qualifier, U-15 Baseball World Cup and the Women's Baseball World Cup until further notice. The U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier has also been postponed but will not take place this year.
"USA Baseball fully supports the WBSC and its decision to indefinitely postpone the events on the baseball calendar in an effort to protect our national team athletes at this time," continued Seiler. "When the time comes for Team USA to return to the field, we will be ready to continue our longstanding tradition of excellence on the international stage."
Corresponding to the status of the international baseball calendar, USA Baseball has cancelled all 12U National Team programming events for 2020, meanwhile any future events planned for the 15U National Team, 18U National Team, Collegiate National Team and Women's National Team this year will be announced as necessary.
The Medical/Safety Advisory Committee has published a free Athlete Preparation Plan that provides a series of at-home exercises aimed to prepare young athletes for their return to the diamond following a prolonged disruption from on-field activity. To access this plan and to read its recommendations for baseball players during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.
Further information on USA Baseball updates relating to COVID-19 can be found here. For up-to-the-minute updates on the organization and its events, follow @USABaseball on social media.
Former Team USA General Manager led the stars and stripes to an Olympic gold medal and back-to-back world championship titles
May 15, 2020
CARY, N.C. - USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler released the following statement mourning the loss of Bob Watson. Watson, also known as "The Bull," was a pioneer in every sense of the word within the game of baseball and was an integral part of a tremendous period of success for Team USA on the international stage from 1999-2009.
"'Bull' was one of those rare people in life who made everyone around him better, both on the field and off. His baseball résumé is legendary, but the impact he made on others in every walk of life is what truly sets his legacy apart. Personally, and professionally, I am honored to have called him a friend and humbled to have learned so much from him. On behalf of USA Baseball, our hearts are heavy today for his wife, Carol, his children, Keith and Kelley, and for all who were lucky enough to have known him."
Serving as the General Manager for four USA Baseball national teams, Watson helped lead the U.S. to unprecedented heights, winning the gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, qualifying the U.S. for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and winning back-to-back International Baseball Federation (IBAF) World Cup titles in 2007 and 2009. Team USA held a 27-3 cumulative record during his tenure as General Manager with the red, white and blue. Additionally, he was vital to the introduction of professional athletes to the USA Baseball national team program for the first time in 1999 and served on the selection committee for the XIII Pan American Games roster, which ultimately won a silver medal and earned its spot in the Sydney 2000 Olympic baseball tournament.
Watson was a two-time All-Star for the Houston Astros in 1973 and 1975, and spent 19 years playing in the Majors. He finished his career also playing for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves, holding a .295 career batting average with 184 homers, 989 RBIs and 802 runs scored.
After his playing career ended in 1984, he went on to be the hitting coach for the American League pennant-winning Oakland Athletics in 1988 before becoming the second African American General Manager in major league history when the Astros hired him in 1993. Watson then served as the GM for the New York Yankees from 1995-1997, where he helped the Yankees win the World Series in 1996-their first title since 1978.
Watson would later work for MLB beginning in 1997 as the vice president in charge of discipline and of rules and on-field discipline before retiring in 2010.
Dates for the rescheduled Americas Qualifier will be announced at a later time
March 12, 2020
CARY, N.C. - The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), in collaboration with event-host USA Baseball, today announced the postponing of the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020 due to player, personnel and spectator health and safety measures amid concerns surrounding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Dates for the rescheduled Baseball Americas Qualifier in Arizona will be announced at a later time.
The Americas qualifier was set to take place in Surprise and Tempe, Arizona, from March 22-26. After consulting with governmental and medical authorities, as well as following the guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), the WBSC and the Local Organizing Committee (USA Baseball) jointly decided to postpone the event.
"The health and safety of our athletes, coaches, staff and fans remain the top priority of USA Baseball, and we applaud the international federation's shared commitment to the overall well-being of athletes globally," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. "We will continue to collaborate with the World Baseball Softball Confederation in order to deliver a world-class international baseball event in the future. Additionally, our staff will continue working diligently with our coaches, scouts and Major League Baseball in preparation for this tournament, as we remain dedicated to our goal of representing the United States at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."
The eight national teams set to compete in the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier include host-country USA, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
The winner from the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier will earn a berth into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, while the second- and third-place finishers will have a second chance to qualify for Tokyo 2020 at the Final Qualifier in Taichung and Douliu, Taiwan, which has been rescheduled from April 1-5 to June 17-21.
The winner of the Final Qualifier will earn the sixth and final berth into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball tournament.
Four nations have already qualified for baseball at the 2020 Olympics: host Japan, Israel, Korea and Mexico.
Team USA to Kick-Start Olympic Qualifying in Arizona
January 31, 2020
MEXICO CITY -- The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) announced the groups and the schedule for the Americas Baseball Olympic Qualifier on Thursday. The event will take place from March 22-27 at Surprise Stadium (Surprise, Ariz.) and Tempe Diable Stadium (Tempe, Ariz.).
Visit www.wbsc.org, the official tournament website, for more information. The website is available in six languages: English, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Traditional Chinese.
Team USA is currently ranked No. 2 in the WBSC World Baseball Rankings and will look to join host-country Japan, Korea, Israel and Mexico in the six-team Olympic baseball tournament. The U.S. will open the tournament in Group A with the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico.
The top two teams from Group A and Group B will advance to the Super Round. The winner of the tournament will earn a spot in Tokyo 2020. The second and third place teams will advance to the WBSC Final Olympic Qualifier in Taiwan.
The opening round schedule for Team USA is as follows:
March 22: USA vs. Nicaragua (7 p.m. MT) March 23: USA vs. Dominican Republic (7 p.m. MT) March 24: USA vs. Puerto Rico (7 p.m. MT)
Stay tuned to USABaseball.com and follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the most up-to-date information on the USA Baseball Professional National Team and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifying.
TOKYO -- Bobby Dalbec (1B), Brandon Dickson (RP), Erik Kratz (C) and Brent Rooker (DH) were named to the All-World Team by the World Baseball Softball Confederation following the completion of the Premier12 on Sunday night. The U.S. finished the tournament in fourth place with a 4-4 record.
The four players on the list were the most of any country in the tournament, followed by two each from Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea, and one from Mexico.
Dalbec finished the Premier12 first on Team USA and second in the tournament with eight RBIs, picking up four with a grand slam against the Netherlands in the opening game of the event in Guadalajara. He started all eight games of the tournament and finished with a .250 batting average with two home runs.
The closer for Team USA, Dickson tied for the tournament lead with three saves. He struck out two or more batters in each of his five appearances and tied for the team lead with 11 total strikeouts in the Premier12.
Kratz started behind the dish in all but one game of the Premier12 tournament and finished second on Team USA with a .381 batting average and two home runs. He finished the winner-take-all game against the Dominican Republic in Guadalajara a triple short of the cycle to lead the stars and stripes into the Super Round. Kratz's leadership behind the plate also led the U.S. pitching staff to a collective 3.28 ERA and 75 strikeouts.
Outfielder and designated hitter Rooker finished the Premier12 leading Team USA with a .800 slugging percentage and tied for the team and tournament lead with three home runs. He came in against the Netherlands as a substitute and contributed six total bases with a two-run home run and a double. Rooker then started six of the next seven games and hit a two-run home run against Chinese Taipei that proved to be the game winner and put the U.S. in a spot to play for a bronze medal.
Rooker also received the award for most home runs in the tournament, hitting three in just 20 at-bats.
2019 Premier12 All-World Team
SP: Yi Chang (Chinese Taipei)
RP: Brandon Dickson (USA)
C: Erik Kratz (USA)
1B: Bobby Dalbec (USA)
2B: Ryosuke Kikuchi (Japan)
3B: Wei-Chen Wang (Chinese Taipei)
SS: Ha-Seong Kim (Korea)
OF: Jung-Hoo Lee (Korea)
OF: Jonathan Jones (Mexico)
OF: Seiya Suzuki (Japan) - Tournament MVP
DH: Brent Rooker (USA)
TOKYO -- Team USA gave up a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th in a 3-2 extra-inning loss to Mexico at the Tokyo Dome in the bronze medal game of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12.
The U.S. finished the Premier12 tournament in fourth place with a 4-4 overall record. With the loss, Team USA did not secure the automatic berth into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and will look to qualify for the Olympics during the WBSC Americas Olympic Qualifier in Arizona. The event will be held in March but no dates have been finalized.
Jo Adell put the U.S. ahead in the top of the first inning, launching a no-doubter over the right field wall with one out for an early 1-0 lead. It was Adell's third home run of the tournament.
Both offenses were silenced by the starting pitchers from that point until the sixth inning. CJ Chatham got into scoring position for the stars and stripes with a double down the left field line but was stranded there by a strikeout and a foul out. Mexico loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning on reliever Daniel Tillo and tied the game on a two-out infield single. Wyatt Mills then came on in relief and got the U.S. out of the jam to keep the score square at 1-1.
Andrew Vaughn led off the top of the seventh with a single to right field and moved into scoring position on an Erik Kratz sacrifice bunt. Bobby Dalbec then followed with an RBI-single up the middle to immediately regain the one-run lead, 2-1.
Mexico hit a leadoff homer in the top of the ninth inning off closer Brandon Dickson to tie the game and push the game into extra innings. With runners on first and second with no outs courtesy of the international tie-break rules, the U.S. bunted the runners over and loaded the bases on an intentional walk, but was not able to cross the plate in the top half of the 10th.
Mexico followed suit, bunting their runners to second and third and the U.S. intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases with one out. The stars and stripes turned to lefty Caleb Thielbar on the mound against Efren Navarro, but Navarro battled until he hit a walk-off single on the eighth pitch of the at-bat to score the game-winning run.
Team USA starter Cody Ponce set the tone for the U.S. pitching staff and defense on the day, pitching five innings of scoreless baseball, facing just two batters over the minimum. He struck out six batters and allowed just one walk in the no decision. Tillo surrendered one run in his 0.2 innings of work before Mills came in to get the U.S. out of a jam.
Clayton Andrews and Noah Song continued their solid pitching in the tournament, combining for two innings of hitless relief. Dickson (0-1) suffered the loss, giving up two runs (one earned) in 1.1 innings. Mexico reliever Carlos Bustamante (1-0) picked up the win.
Adell went 2-for-4 with the solo home run for the U.S. offense on the day and finished the tournament leading the team in batting average (.394) and tied for the lead in home runs with Brent Rooker (3).
Collectively, the 2019 Premier12 team's offense hit 15 home runs and collected 69 hits in its eight games. The pitching staff held a 3.28 ERA and struck out 75 batters in the tournament.
Stay tuned to USABaseball.com and @USABaseball on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for all of the latest information on the Professional National Team and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifying.
TOKYO -- Brent Rooker launched a go-ahead two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the seventh inning and Team USA defeated Chinese Taipei 3-2 at the Tokyo Dome in its final game of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 Super Round.
With the win, the U.S. finished the Super Round with a 2-3 record (4-3 overall) and awaits the results of the three final games to determine who will play in the bronze medal game.
Team USA came out of the gates swinging and took a 1-0 lead in the home half of the first inning. Jo Adell laced a single down the left field line and stole second base before Andrew Vaughn followed with an RBI-single through the left side to put the U.S. ahead.
Chinese Taipei tied the game at one in the top of the third on a double play-ball and hit a home run to centerfield in the top of the sixth inning to take a 2-1 lead.
The red, white and blue offense struggled after the first inning, only getting two runners on base until Erik Kratz singled up the middle with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. Rooker followed in a big way, slamming a 2-1 pitch into the second level of left field to retake the lead, 3-2.
Noah Song came in on the eighth inning and set the Chinese Taipei offense down in order thanks to two strikeouts and a ground out, and turned the ball over to Brandon Dickson in the ninth. Dickson (3) continued his outstanding performance in the Premier12, picking up a line-out and two strikeouts to tally his third save of the tournament and secure the U.S. win.
U.S. starter Parker Dunshee lasted just 3.1 innings in a no-decision, giving up one run and striking out one batter in his appearance. Clayton Andrews was the first out of the bullpen and faced the minimum through his 1.2 innings, giving up a hit and striking out one. Brian Flynn surrendered a home run in his 0.2 innings and Wyatt Mills got the final out in the sixth. Spencer Jones (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh inning to pick up the win for the stars and stripes, striking out two batters in his lone inning of work.
Rooker's blast (1-for-3, 2 RBIs) led the offense for Team USA but Jo Adell (seven games), Erik Kratz (six games) and Andrew Vaughn (four games) each continued their individual hitting streaks in the tournament with singles in the game.
If Chinese Taipei defeats Australia in their matchup tomorrow, the U.S. will play in the bronze medal game at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, November 16/12 p.m. JST on Sunday, November 17. Additionally, if that result comes to fruition and Korea defeats Mexico, the stars and stripes will face Mexico in the bronze medal game with a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the line.
Stay tuned to USABaseball.com and @USABaseball on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for all of the latest information.
TOKYO -- Mark Payton hit his second home run of the tournament in the eighth inning but it was not enough as the U.S. dropped a 2-1 decision to Australia at the Tokyo Dome in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 Super Round. With the loss, the stars and stripes move to 3-3 overall in the tournament and holds a 1-3 record in the Super Round standings.
The loss officially eliminates Team USA from gold medal-game contention at the 2019 Premier12. The red, white and blue is still mathematically in the hunt for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games berth from the tournament, but does not control its own destiny.
U.S. starting pitcher Tanner Houck struggled out of the gate, giving up a two-RBI single up the middle in the top of the first to face an early 2-0 deficit. After that, however, Houck was outstanding on the mound, retiring the next 13 consecutive batters before Daniel Tillo came on in relief in the sixth.
Erik Kratz picked up the team's first hit with two outs in the fifth inning on a single through the right side, but the stars and stripes' offense was held at bay throughout the game by strong Australia pitching and defense.
Still trailing 2-0 after seven, Payton put the U.S. on the board in the eighth inning when he lifted a 2-1 pitch over the right field wall, cutting the deficit in half. Jo Adell followed with a single up the middle and stole second base to put a runner in scoring position for the first time on the night, but a strikeout by Alec Bohm ended the inning.
Wyatt Mills came on in the top of the ninth to keep the lead at one and got one out before surrendering three straight singles to load the bases. The U.S. then called on Brandon Dickson out of the bullpen and he struck out the final two batters of the inning looking to get out of the jam.
Andrew Vaughn tried to start a rally for Team USA in the bottom of the ninth after legging out a leadoff infield single but a pop out and two fly outs ended the game 2-1 in favor of Australia.
Houck (0-2) suffered the loss for Team USA, giving up the two runs in the first inning. He finished the day with five strikeouts in five innings. Tillo and Noah Song combined to pitch three innings of hitless relief, striking out four batters and facing just one over the minimum collectively. Australia starter Tim Atherton (1-1) picked up the win and Jon Kennedy (1) got the save.
The U.S. will close out Premier12 Super Round play on Thursday, November 14 as Team USA faces Chinese Taipei at 10 p.m. ET (November 15, 12 p.m. local). Starting pitchers will be announced tomorrow and the game will be streamed live on the WBSC's Facebook page.
TOKYO -- The U.S. jumped out to an early lead and held on for a 4-3 victory over Japan at the Tokyo Dome in its second game of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 Super Round. With the win, the stars and stripes move to 3-2 overall in the tournament and holds a 1-2 record in the Super Round standings.
Team USA got on the board first in the top of the second inning to put pressure on Japan starter Rei Takahashi. Alec Bohm led off the inning with a double down the right field line and moved over to third on a groundout to second base. Jake Cronenworth then laced a ball to an extended first baseman who got the out at first but allowed Bohm to score, giving the red, white and blue the early advantage.
CJ Chatham led off the top of the third inning with a double of his own to the left-centerfield wall and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Mark Payton. Jo Adell would walk to put runners on the corners before Bobby Dalbec hit a double down the left field line to score Chatham and extend the U.S. lead to two after three innings.
Japan got one back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI-single to right field by Hideto Asamura but Team USA responded immediately with a run of its own in the top of the fifth. Another leadoff double - this time by Payton - put a runner in scoring position with no outs. He would then come around to score on a Bohm RBI-single to regain the two-run lead, 3-1.
Japan picked up another run in the bottom of the sixth but the U.S. would respond once again in the very next inning, this time with an Adell solo homer to right field to bring the score to 4-2.
In front of a spirited home crowd of over 28,000, Japan continued to threaten throughout the rest of the game, scoring another run in the top of the eighth to get within one; but the relievers and defense stood tough, securing the win courtesy of a Brandon Dickson save for the final score of 4-3.
Starting pitcher Penn Murfee was strong on the mound in a no-decision for Team USA, giving up no hits in three innings of work and striking out two batters. Clayton Richard came out of the pen and pitched a solid outing in relief, giving up just one unearned run in 2.2 innings. JP Feyereisen and Spencer Jones both pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the stars and stripes while Caleb Thielbar gave up one run in his 0.1 innings pitched.
Dickson (2), who plays with the Orix Buffaloes in Nippon Professional Baseball, came in and pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two batters for the save. Richard (1-0) got the win for the red, white and blue and Takahashi (1-1) suffered the loss for Japan.
Adell (2-for-3, RBI), Bohm (2-for-5, RBI), Brent Rooker (2-for-3) and Chatham (2-for-4, two doubles) paced the offense for the U.S. on the night, combining for eight of the 11 hits in the game.
Team USA will face Australia (1-4, 0-3) in the Tokyo Dome on Tuesday, November 12 at 10 p.m. ET (November 13, 12 p.m. local). The game will be streamed live on the WBSC's Facebook page.