Japan rallies to upend USA in WBSC tourney
South Korea, Canada, Netherlands among other winners Saturday
The U.S. team participating in the WBSC (World Baseball Softball Confederation) Premier12 international tournament dropped to 2-2 in opening-round play on Saturday, thanks to a 10-2 loss to Japan in Taiwan.
Japan sits alone atop the Group B standings at 4-0, while the U.S. and Venezuela are tied for third. The U.S. plays its final opening-round game against second-place South Korea (3-1) on Sunday, and the top four teams from both of the pools will advance to Monday's quarterfinals. The U.S. qualified on Saturday, by virtue of Mexico's loss to South Korea.
The Americans held a 2-1 lead after five innings on Saturday, on a solo homer from Matt McBride (Rockies), an RBI single from Brett Eibner (Royals) and five strong innings from starter Jarrett Grube (Indians). Dan Black led the American team with two hits.
Japan erupted for four runs in the sixth and five in the seventh to turn a deficit into a blowout win. Sho Nakata hit a go-ahead three-run homer, and Nobuhiro Matsuda provided insurance with a grand slam for Japan, which will close the opening round on Sunday against Venezuela.
Here is a look at the rest of the tournament action from Saturday.
South Korea 4, Mexico 3
Byung Ho Park smacked a solo homer, five days after the Twins won negotiating rights with the Korean Baseball Organization slugger by placing the highest bid, a reported $12.85 million.
Park's blast came in the third inning, as South Korea jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Mexico then rallied with two runs in the bottom of the frame and another in the fifth, but ultimately came up short.
Woo-chan Cha, the second of four South Korea relievers, struck out eight batters over three scoreless innings to pick up the victory.
Canada 4, Italy 0
Canada remained undefeated and atop the Group A standings at 4-0, one game ahead of the Netherlands, its opponent in Sunday's opening-round finale.
Right-hander Jared Mortensen (Rays) limited Italy to five hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings, striking out three and throwing only 83 pitches. Kyle Lotzkar finished up with two scoreless, hitless frames.
"[Mortensen] was outstanding," Canada manager Ernie Whitt said, according to a team release. "He threw strikes, he was pitch-efficient, and we needed that from him tonight.
"We wanted to try and save our bullpen for the upcoming games, and he was able to help us do that."
Left fielder Tyler O'Neill, the Mariners' No. 6 prospect, belted a two-run shot in the first inning, his third homer in as many games. Canada added another pair of runs in the fourth, including one on a squeeze bunt by Sean Jamieson (D-backs).
Venezuela 8, Dominican Republic 6
Looking for its first win, the Dominican Republic led, 5-2, after four innings, but Venezuela (2-2) rallied for a run in the fifth, two in the sixth to tie and three in the seventh to take the lead.
Renny Osuna hit the game-tying two-run single, while Luis Jimenez added the go-ahead three-run double. Ray Olmedo finished with two hits, two walks and an RBI for Venezuela, and Gregorio Petit homered.
Anderson Feliz and Robinzon Diaz, the top two hitters in the Dominican Republic lineup, collected three hits apiece.
Netherlands 11, Puerto Rico 7
Netherlands (3-1) built an 8-0 lead through two innings, then held on to win a slugfest that featured 28 combined hits.
Netherlands leadoff man Randolph Oduber (Nationals) went 3-for-4 with a walk, two homers, three runs scored, three RBIs and a stolen base. He was one of five Netherlands players to rack up multiple hits, while starting pitcher Shairon Martis gave up one run and struck out five over five innings.
Juan Medina had two hits, including a homer, and drove in three runs to lead the way for Puerto Rico, which fell to 1-3.
Chinese Taipei 4, Cuba 1
Chih-Sheng Lin's three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a 1-1 tie and provided the difference in the game for Chinese Taipei, moving both teams to 2-2.
The clubs combined for 23 hits but couldn't do much with them. Yosvany Alarcon went 3-for-4 for Cuba, while Kuo-Hui Kao did the same for Chinese Taipei.
Chinese Taipei starter Chia-Hao Sung allowed only an unearned run over 6 1/3 innings, and Hung-Wen Chen finished off the win with a scoreless ninth.