Team USA Earns Silver Medal at World University Games

By Jeremy Karll on August 29, 2017 at 10:00 am
Not bad, Iowa baseball. Not bad at all.



USA had consistently made comeback after comeback at the World University Games, but its deficit against Japan was too big to overcome on Tuesday morning. Despite losing 10-0, Iowa became the first American baseball team to medal at the World University Games. While it's not the end result everyone hoped for, there's definitely no shame in finishing second at a global tournament.

It was originally reported that Rick Heller would start true freshman Jack Dreyer, but Sammy Lizarraga ended up getting the start. Nerves seemed to get to him early, though, as he walked a couple of batters to start the game. Ryosuke Tatsumi made him pay for his early walks with a two-out RBI single, giving Japan a 1-0 lead. But Justin Jenkins made a beautiful throw from center field to throw out Takeshi Miyamoto to end the inning.

Japan blew the game open for good in the second inning. Dreyer entered the game with one out after Lizarraga allowed two of Japan's first three batters on to start the inning. This time Japan seemed ready for Dreyer. Leadoff hitter Kairi Shimada hit a two-RBI triple to right field, Miyamoto walked and Keita Nakagawa singled to left to score another run, giving Japan a 4-0 lead.

After recording the second out of the inning, Dreyer allowed back-to-back doubles before getting out of the inning. The damage was already done as Japan held a 7-0 lead.

Dreyer didn't allow another run, pitching 2.1 innings of four-run baseball. Shane Ritter entered the game with two outs in the fourth after Dreyer allowed a two-out double and walk. Ritter was able to get out of the inning without allowing a run and threw 2.1 shutout innings. 

Even though a seven-run deficit is difficult to overcome, Ritter gave USA a chance to chip away at the lead. However, USA's hitting was unable to overcome Japan's pitching. Starter Masato Morishita allowed just two hits and one walk over seven innings, striking out 11 batters. Japan's bullpen added two more strikeouts in its two innings of work, as it only gave up one hit.

Robert Neustrom, who finished the University Games hitting .387, hit a triple with two outs in the first inning, resulting in just one of two times USA put a runner in scoring position. Brett McCleary and Lorenzo Elion, who hit .364 this tournament, went 1-for-4 for USA's other hits. Everyone except Mitchell Boe struck out at least once, as well, including seven of nine outs spanning from the first and fourth inning.

Japan scored three more runs off of Kole Kampen, who struck out two over 1.2 innings, in the eighth inning. Ben Probst also made his second appearance, recording the final out in the eighth.

USA finishes 5-2 at the World University Games, while Japan went a perfect 7-0. South Korea beat the Czech Republic, 6-2, to earn the bronze medal. The non-medalists finished: Chinese Taipei, Russia, France and Mexico. 

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