Mighty Masmu sends Argentina into gold medal game against New Zealand

Written by Bob on July 20th, 2014

WHITEHORSE, YUKON, CA – Argentina’s Gonzalo Masmu was nicknamed the “Mighty Masmu” after he hit three home runs and drove in seven runs against Japan in an 8-1 win during round-robin play of the ISF Junior Men’s World Championship.

If there was any doubt he deserved that title then, those doubts were erased Sunday afternoon in the Bronze medal game.

With the game deadlocked at 1-1 in the ninth inning, the right-side swinging Masmu drilled a two-out home run over the centerfield fence for a walkoff off 3-1 victory.

The dramatic win sends Argentina into a faceoff with New Zealand for the Gold medal in the 10th ISF Junior Men’s World Championship.

    MATA AND KENTO, NONE BETTER

The game figured to be a pitchers’ duel between Japan’s Okazaki Kento and Argentina’s Huemul Mata. They both brought their “A” games and as expected they bore down into a tug of war in which neither would give an inch.

The two right-handers matched pitch-for-pitch through seven innings, sending the game into extra innings tied 1-1. Kento went the nine innings, scattering seven hits, with a walk and 11 strikeouts.

Mata was just a bit better giving up one run on two hits while striking out 14. He left after the seventh, giving way to Roman Godoy. And there was no drop off as Godoy struck out two with a walk and no hits to pick up his fifth win of the tournament.

Both teams had chances to win the game in the two extra frames.

    JAPAN CAN’T CAPITALIZE

Japan may look back with some chagrin as they put runners at second and third in the top of the ninth with one out. But Godoy snuffed out that fire by striking out both the dangerous Kento and designated hitter, Osaki Takanari on blistering rise balls above the letters.

That set up Masmu’s heroics. When he crossed home plate his teammates where there to greet him in jubilation.

“What can I say, this was a great game and we are happy to get the win,” said Argentina manager Julio Gamarci. “This game was awesome. Japan is a great team. They fought us all the way through.”

    JAPAN SCORES FIRST

The game was deadlocked into the third, before Japan finally broke through. Kazuki Kajihara drove a hard shot into the third base and shortstop hole to start the inning. Shunichi Hino sacrificed him to second and Hideo Taguchi’s infield ground ball moved Kajihara to third.

That brought the slap-hitting Une Ryoyo to the plate. Mata whipped in a letter-high rise ball, and Ryoyo slapped an unplayable high chopper along the third base line that brought home Kajihara.

Argentina fought back to tie the game in the fourth. Mata, who bats sixth, helped his cause.

    MATA HELPS HIMSELF

Facundo Carril hit a one-out single; then after Godoy went down on strikes, Mata drove a hanging Kento rise ball into the left-centerfield gap that rolled to the fence, allowing Carril to score all the way from first base.

The scored stayed tied as Kento and Mata and Goday refused to budge. Argentina (10-1, 1-1 playoffs) collected seven hits, while Japan (7-4, 1-1 playoffs) had two.

    GREAT JAPAN TEAM TAKES BRONZE

Japan takes home the Bronze medal, while Argentina gets a rematch with New Zealand in the championship final for the Gold medal. Argentina suffered its only loss on Saturday, a 3-1 setback at the hands of the Kiwis.

Now the Argentines have a chance at redemption and a seond-consecutive world championship after taking the title in 2012.

Argentina manager Gamarci said his team is ready for the challenge.

“It’s the final game right where we want to be,” he said.

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