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USA beats Hong Kong to open Women's World Cup

MLB.com

Team USA jumped out to a big early lead and never looked back, defeating Hong Kong, 9-1, on Friday night in the opening round of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women's Baseball World Cup in Gijang, South Korea.

When the seven-inning game began -- it was already Saturday in Gijang -- the No. 2-ranked U.S. squad didn't waste any time. After Stacy Piagno pitched a scoreless top of the first, right fielder Megan Baltzell and designated hitter Tamara Holmes both smacked two-run doubles to provide an early cushion.

Team USA jumped out to a big early lead and never looked back, defeating Hong Kong, 9-1, on Friday night in the opening round of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women's Baseball World Cup in Gijang, South Korea.

When the seven-inning game began -- it was already Saturday in Gijang -- the No. 2-ranked U.S. squad didn't waste any time. After Stacy Piagno pitched a scoreless top of the first, right fielder Megan Baltzell and designated hitter Tamara Holmes both smacked two-run doubles to provide an early cushion.

That lead jumped to 6-0 in the second on first baseman Malaika Underwood's RBI double, as well as an error from No. 9 Hong Kong. Underwood finished 3-for-3 with a steal and three runs scored to lead the offense.

Tweet from @WBSC: USA 4-0 !!!! Bottom 1st v Hong Kong. LIVE: https://t.co/jtWlSHJhCv #WomensBaseball #WorldCup https://t.co/l5VqcRvRGz

Piagno's outing ended after striking out the side in the third inning, as the right-hander allowed no hits and one walk while recording four punchouts. Piagno is one of two players on the Women's National Team -- along with Kelsie Whitmore -- who signed with the independent Sonoma Stompers on June 29 and played for the team in July. Whitmore started the opening-round game in left field and went 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Meggie Meidlinger and Alex Fulmer followed Piagno on the mound with two innings apiece, as Hong Kong didn't manage its only hit and run until the sixth.

The next game for the U.S. will be at 11:30 p.m. ET on Saturday against Chinese Taipei.

In other first-round action, Netherlands beat India, 9-2, while four other matchups were also set to be completed later in the day.

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.