Posted: Oct 19, 2011 9:21 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2011 10:27 PM
GUADALAJARA, MEXICO - The defending Pan American gold medal winning team moved to 5-0 on Wednesday afternoon with two exciting victories from the Pan American Softball Stadium. A 3-0 decision over a strong Cuban team and 4-1 win over Puerto Rico put the U.S. as the strong favorite for the No. 1 seed with two games left in round robin action. Up next is a big match-up with northern foe Canada at 1 p.m. on Thursday, October 20. The U.S. will close out round-robin action on Friday at 4 p.m. against Argentina.
The U.S. pitching staff continues to stifle its opponents having allowed just one run in 27 innings of work. Outscoring opponents 34-1, the U.S. is batting .369 as a team and has a .612 slugging percentage. Every hitter on the roster has recorded a hit except Valerie Arioto who has drawn a team-high eight walks. Jenae Leles leads the team with seven RBI while leadoff Michelle Moultrie has scored six runs and is hitting .444.
"Four games in less than 24 hours is pretty intense," said head coach Ken Eriksen. "And I am proud of what our team has done. Especially under these conditions when it can be very confusing at times, whether your bus isn't leaving on time or your game is not starting on time. I think our girls have done a great job at adapting and getting through some controversial calls. We've got one game a day right now for the rest of the tournament and our team has really maintained their composure. We are really looking forward to the Canada game tomorrow."
GAME 1: USA 3 - Cuba 0
The U.S. recorded its first regulation seven-inning victory of the Pan American Games on Wednesday afternoon with a 3-0 win over Cuba. With both teams undefeated at 3-0 coming into the game, it was a pitching and defensive battle until the third inning when the U.S. scored two runs to take the lead.
Jordan Taylor earned her second victory of the Pan American Games tallying 6.1 innings of work issuing seven strikeouts.
In three games played the U.S. pitching staff had only allowed three hits but Cuba came out swinging recording two base hits in the top of the first inning. But the arm of Taylor kept the other batters off balance as she struck out the side to close the inning.
The U.S. saw its first runner reach in the second inning when Kaitlin Cochran laid down a perfect base hit bunt. It was short lived however as Cochran was called for leaving early and a pop out and a line out halted the U.S. offensive efforts.
Cuba's Leanneyi Gomez reached second base in the third inning after a walk and fielder's choice, but a foul pop up to U.S. catcher Meagan May closed the inning still scoreless.
With one out in the bottom half of the third, Molly Johnson roped a single to left field to give the U.S. some opportunities. A wild pitch advanced Johnson to second, before Gibson drove a powerful punch to left field for a triple and a 1-0 lead. Michelle Moultrie then drove in an insurance run for the home team with a deep fly ball to right field that easily scored Gibson for the sacrifice and 2-0 advantage.
Cuba put a runner on with one out in the fourth with a base hit up the middle from Lidibet Catellon. Moultrie then made an incredible catch at the left field wall for an out and with a quick release to shortstop Johnson who turned the ball first baseman Valerie Arioto they doubled off Catellon to end the inning.
Cuba made a pitching change in the fourth to Rosario Yarisleidy and she held off the U.S. batters through the fourth and fifth allowing just one walk and recording two strikeouts.
The U.S. added a run in the sixth after Moultrie reached on a walk and Stacy May-Johnson followed her with a single through the left side. Cochran then drove in an RBI with a solid base hit to left field plating Moultrie for the 3-0 eventual margin of victory.
GAME 2 - USA 4 - Puerto Rico 1
In game two, Mizzou's Chelsea Thomas tallied a Pan American Games high 10 strikeouts as the U.S. grabbed a 4-1 victory. Despite leaving 12 runners left on base, the U.S. mustered four runs throughout the game thanks to May-Johnson, Moultrie and Grieve who each nabbed two hits apiece.
In the first, with the bases juiced thanks to a Moultrie single, a hit by pitch for May-Johnson and a walk to Kaitlin Cochran, the Red, White and Blue scored its first run after a walk was issued to Arioto from starting Puerto Rico pitcher Kaylyn Camacho. With the bases loaded again, the U.S. hoped to score more runs but Christi Orgeron fell victim to a called third strike to end the inning.
Puerto Rico put runners into scoring position in both the first and the second innings as Kiara Nazario and Zomarie Lozano each contributed base hits to reach. Thomas and crew held strong however stopping the threat keeping the lead at 1-0.
In the bottom of the third Puerto Rico made a pitching change to Laura Ramos and leadoff batter Kelly Grieve welcomed her with a base hit to left field. A groundout fielder's choice and a Puerto Rico fielding error put runners at second and third but the home team came up empty handed again with tag out and groundout.
The bats finally came alive in the fourth inning for Team USA as they added two runs on four hits to pad their lead to 3-0. A leadoff double from Orgeron sparked the team wearing red and Ashley Holcombe then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Orgeron to third. Taylor Hoagland then reached on a fielding error from the Puerto Rico shortstop Nazario which plated Orgeron. With two outs, Moultrie tallied her first triple of the Games and Grieve then knocked in an RBI single for run No. 3.
Thomas and crew were perfect from the third through the fifth retiring nine straight hitters, six via the strikeout.
New Puerto Rican pitcher Lissete Garay put three U.S. runners on via the walk in the fifth but the U.S. couldn't connect as a strikeout issued to Moultrie left the runners stranded.
Textbook softball gave the U.S. its fourth run of the game in the sixth inning. May-Johnson drove a single to left field, Cochran bunted her over and then No. 5 hole hitter Leles knocked in May-Johnson with a double.
Puerto Rico made things interesting in the top of the seventh scoring the first run against the U.S. in 27 innings of work. With three singles in a row, two coming from pinch hitters, Puerto Rico knocked in the first run scored on Team USA in the tournament. But Thomas and crew settled their rally and she recorded her 10th strikeout to seal the victory 4-1.