AUCKLAND, New Zealand – The USA Men’s Fastpitch National Team moved to 3-3 in pool play of the International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championship on Wednesday with a 9-3 win over Venezuela the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of American and USA Softball announced today. Josh Johnson (Brooklyn, Wis.) drew the start for the Americans and pitched a complete game, picking up nine strike outs while allowing just three hits.
“This was a big game with high implications for playoff seeding,” said USA head coach Pete Turner. “It was nice to see our guys step up big at the plate. Anytime you can score nine runs on a good team like Venezuela you’re doing something right. Josh Johnson was great in the circle for us as well and our defense made some really impressive plays to back him up.”
The Americans opened the game with two runs on three hits in the top of the first inning to take an early lead. Chase Turner (San Jose, Calif.) singled to get things going and Matt Palazzo (Des Moines, Iowa) and Johnson followed him up with back-to-back run scoring doubles.
Johnson kept the Venezuelan batters in check for the first three innings, only allowing two base runners on a hit and a walk.
The Team USA bats came alive again in the third when Turner and Palazzo both singled for their second hits of the game. Johnson and Derrick Zechman (Watsontown, Pa.) each reached base and with two outs Dave Lohman (Lindenhurst, NY) drove them home with a single. When the at-bat finally came to a close, USA had added four runs to their lead.
Venezuela was finally able to get on the board with runs in the fourth and sixth innings but it wouldn’t be enough as Team USA matched their efforts with one run in the fifth, a homerun to right field from Palazzo, and two more runs in the top of the seventh.
Trailing 9-3, Venezuela was down to their final at-bat in the bottom of the seventh but Johnson and the USA defense refused to let up. A three up, three down inning brought the game to a close giving Team USA their third-consecutive victory at the 2013 ISF World Championship.
The USA Men are now 3-3 in the pool play portion of the tournament. They will next face Great Britain (2-3) on Thursday at 11:00 AM local time in their final pool play game of the tournament. At the completion of Thursday’s games the top four teams from each pool will be seeded into a bracket scheduled for March 8-10.