The USA Men’s Fast Pitch National Team took two-of-three on Friday at the ISGU International Fast Pitch Tournament in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Team USA fell in their first game of the day to Sureno Soy 5-0 but bounced back to get back-to-back wins over Team X Panama (3-1) and Positive Brothers (12-0, 5 innings). The two wins closed out pool play for the Americans as they locked up the No. 1 overall seed entering the single-elimination bracket play portion of the tournament. Team USA must now wait to see who they will face at 3 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, they play the winner of a 9 a.m. contest between the ninth seed and 24th seed.
Sureno Soy 5, USA 0
In game one, Team USA surrendered their first runs of the tournament when Sureno Soy scored two in the first inning and three in the second off of pitcher Terry Luster (Bunceton, Mo.). On the offensive side, the American bats struggled to get much going as well. Frank DeGroat Jr. (Ringwood, NJ) recorded the only USA hit of the game, a single in the second inning.
B.J. Hunhoff (Sioux Falls, SD) entered in relief of Luster midway through the second and got Team USA out of the inning. Hunhoff returned to pitch in the third before Sean Kelly (Albion, Mich.) came in to close out the final two innings of the game. With Sureno Soy leading 5-0, the one hour and thirty minute time limit expired following the fifth inning and Team USA found themselves on the losing end for the first time in the tournament.
USA 3, X Panama 1
The Americans bounced back in their second game of the day. Pitcher Tony Mancha (Las Cruces, NM) earned the start and the New Mexico product delivered going six complete innings while allowing just one run on three hits and striking out 14 X Panama batters.
Team USA struggled to get much going offensively through two innings but a two-run Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) homer in the top of the third proved to be enough. A passed ball later in the at-bat scored Jonathan Lynch (Cape Girardeau, Mo.) to give the USA a three-run advantage.
Mancha kept X Panama scoreless through five innings of the game before surrendering a one-run home run to start the six and final inning. The solo shot proved meaningless as Mancha struck out three to end the inning and the game.
USA 12, Positive Brothers 0 (5 Innings)
In their final game of the day, Team USA face a Positive Brothers team out of the D.C. area. Garrett Hone (Draper, Utah) started in the circle for the Americans and threw four innings of no-hit ball before Sean Kelly entered in the fifth and final inning to complete the combo no-hitter. The duo combined to strikeout eight of the 16 batters they faced and allowed just one base runner in the game.
From the plate, Team USA went 9-for-23 for a .391 average that included 10 RBI. Matt Ratliff (Sandy, Utah) led the way going 2-for-3 with a single and a triple. The centerfielder recorded two RBI and two runs in the contest. Palazzo also connected on his second home run of the day, this a solo shot in the second inning.
With the win, the USA Men move on to the bracketed portion of the four-day tournament on Saturday. The Americans earned the No. 1 overall seed in the single-elimination bracket. With a win in their 3 p.m. contest, they will move on to play at 7 p.m. Saturday evening. Please visit www.USAsoftball.com to follow live stats and see photos from all of USA’s games at the ISGU International Tournament.