July 6, 2007
KANNAPOLIS, NC-- The Japan University All-Stars (2-3) evened their five-game series with Team USA (10-3), winning game two of the series 3-2 behind lefthander Mikinori Kato on Thursday evening.
Jordy Mercer (Oklahoma State) had two of the Americans five hits.
Kato pitched six and two-thirds innings, and despite giving up five hits and five walks, struck out eight and only had one tough inning, the seventh, when the Americans pulled to within 3-2. Shinya Muramtsu got the final out in the seventh and then retired six of the final seven batters for the save.
Kato was rolling through the first six scoreless innings, scattering five hits, while retiring seven in a row at one point. As the pitch total rose above 100, the lefthander got tired as two errors and three walks in the seventh led to his departure with a 3-2 lead.
The Americans scored two unearned runs off of errors by Kato and first baseman Ryoji Naktaa to cut the Japanese lead to one. The error by first baseman Ryoji Nakata gave the Americans their first run, before an attempted steal by the U.S. with runners on the corners, plated another.
The Japanese scored two of their first three runs with two-out singles to lead 3-0 off of Brian Matusz (San Diego).
A bloop, two-out single left by Hiroki Uemoto in the third gave Japan a 1-0 lead. An RBI single by Hiroki Nakazawa in the fourth then made it 2-0. An unearned run in the sixth made it 3-0, on a two-out single by Yukinaga Tanaka following a leadoff error by Mercer at short.
Matusz pitched the first six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits.
RHP Jacob Thompson (1-0, 0.00) will start tomorrow's game for the Americans... Petey Paramore, despite playing in just eight of team's first 13 games, is the team-leader in walks with 11... the Americans avoided their first shutout since August 13, 2006 (7-0 vs. Nicaragua) and first shutout in the series since June 27, 200 when they were shutout by the Japanese in Honolulu.
The 10-game North Carolina home stand concludes in Durham, NC on July 6, 7 and 8, all with the Japanese... the team then heads to processing in Washington DC on July 9 (or 10) before heading to the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.