USA wins thriller over Argentina in IX Pan Am games

Written by Bob on October 29th, 2014
Josh Johnson drilled a first-inning RBI single, scoring the only run the USA would need in defeating Argentina, 1-0, in the IX Pan American games in Parana, Argentina, Thursday. Photo By BOB OTTO

Josh Johnson drilled a first-inning RBI single, scoring the only run the USA would need in defeating Argentina, 1-0, in the IX Pan American games in Parana, Argentina, Thursday. Photo By BOB OTTO

PARANA, ARGENTINA – The United States Men’s National Fastpitch Team scored a run in the bottom of the first inning and made it stand up to defeat Argentina, 1-0, in the IX Pan American games on Wednesday.

The win was critical in USA’s quest to finish in the top four in round robin play and advance into the four-team playoffs that start on Friday. The win evens the American’s record at 3-3, while Argentina is still in second place at 4-2.

Josh Johnson had but one hit, but it was huge as his single to right field drove in Nate Devine with the winning run. Devine reached safely on a walk, moved to second after Matt Palazzo was hit by a pitch, and then raced home on Johnson’s hit.

The pitching tandem of Gerald Muizelaar, who started, and Tony Mancha, who relieved in the sixth, made the run stand up.

Muizelaar was nearly unhittable through five innings, allowing but one hit to Francisco Sabate in the third, and striking out six with two walks to craft a 2-0 record in the eight-team international tournament.

Gerald Muizelaar pitched five strong innings to lead the USA to victory over Argentina. USA Softball Photo

Gerald Muizelaar pitched five strong innings to lead the USA to victory over Argentina. USA Softball Photo

“Our backs were up against the wall tonight,” said Muizelaar. “It was a complete team effort, from top to bottom, and everyone contributed. We’ve been a bit inconsistent this week, but we beat two of the top three teams and had a lead on Canada. It just proves that we can play with anybody.”

But Argentina had Team USA sweating in the final two frames.

In the sixth, Argentina loaded the bases on Fernando Petric’s lead off single and two walks. But Mancha whipped a letter-high rise ball by Juan Zara to pitch his way out of the jam.

Then again in the seventh, Mancha had to pitch out of trouble after Argentina’s first two batters reach safely on back-to-back singles. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up to second and third with one out.

But Mancha’s rise ball got Petric to popup to Darrin Zechman at third base, and Mancha finished his night’s work and got the save by inducing a ground ball out from Sabate to end the game.

Argentina’s Roman Godoy started and pitched one inning, allowing the one run on one hit, with two walks and a strikeout. Juan Pottoliccio hurled the final five innings, giving up no runs, three hits, with nine strikeouts and no walks.

USA and Argentina matched each other with four hits apiece. For USA Chris Miljavic, Palazzo, Johnson (RBI), and Chase Turner had one hit each

Argentina’s four hits came from Petric, Sabate, Mariano Montero, and Nicolas Carrill.

The win moves USA into a third-place tie with the Dominican Republic at 3-3, trailing Argentina and Venezuela, both at 4-2, with Canada leading the field at 6-0.

Thursday wraps up round robin play, and has the USA pitted against Guatemala (1-5). If USA wins that game and Dominican Republic loses to Venezuela that should assure USA of the fourth playoff spot.

PAN AM STANDINGS (Oct. 29)

  • Canada 6-0
  • Argentina 4-2
  • Venezuela 4-2
  • Dominican Republic 3-3
  • United States 3-3
  • Mexico 2-4
  • Cuba 1-5
  • Guatemala 1-5
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