Sagdal Homer Sends Team USA into Pan Am Playoffs And A Chance For Gold

Written by Bob on July 17th, 2015
Pat Sagdal belted a two-run home run to give the United States a 2-1 victory over Mexico in the 2015 Pan American Games, Thursday, July 16. The win moves Team USA into the playoffs with a chance to win the Gold Medal.

Pat Sagdal belted a two-run home run to give the United States a 2-1 victory over Mexico in the 2015 Pan American Games, Thursday, July 16. The win moves Team USA into the playoffs with a chance to win the Gold Medal.

TORONTO – The United States could muster just two hits off Mexico’s Jose Naranjo, but one of them was as big as it gets.

In the fifth inning, Pat Sagdal broke up a scoreless pitching duel between USA’s Gerald Muizelaar and Naranjo by drilling a home run over the right-field fence with Nick Mullins aboard with a leadoff walk to give the United States a 2-1 victory over Mexico on Thursday.

The win ends a three-game skid and improves Team USA’s record to 2-3 in the Pan American Games at President’s Choice Ajax Ballpark in Toronto. It was also the final round-robin game for both teams and it was huge.

    TEAM USA PLAYOFF BOUND

Though both teams have 2-3 records, the win places the USA fourth in the six-team tournament that secures the final playoff spot, edging out Mexico because of head-to-head competition.

“Anytime you hit a home run it’s a big moment,” said Sagdal, who batted ninth and played centerfield. “That hit couldn’t have happened at a better time.”

    MUIZELAAR STARTS, MANCHA CLOSES

After the United States surged ahead, Mexico responded in its half of the fifth with a solo run on Erick Ochoa’s run-scoring single. But Mancha, on in relief of Muizelaar, stopped the damage by getting Edgar Lopez to pop-up to shortstop Nick Mullins to end the inning.

Mexico threatened again in the sixth with the tying run on second with one out, but Mancha proved up to the task by setting down the final two batters on strikeouts. And in the bottom of the seventh Mancha preserved the win with two infield pop-ups to Mullins and a strikeout.

Denny Bruckert, Head Coach United States Men's National Softball Team.

Denny Bruckert, Head Coach United States Men’s National Softball Team.

“We needed something like this,” said Head Coach Denny Bruckert (Gillespie, Ill.). “Gerald pitched one heck of a game and Tony came in strong to close it out. Really proud of our boys because we’ve lost some tough games this week, but we’re right where we need to be.”

    CLOSE LOSSES

After opening the round robin with a 10-0 win over the Dominican Republic (0-5), Team USA dropped close decisions to Canada, 3-2, and Venezuela and Argentina by identical 3-1 scores.

Muizelaar picked up the win over Mexico and improves to 2-0 with 4 2/3 innings work. He allowed the one earned run on four hits with two strikeouts and a hit batter. Mancha got the save, going the final 2 1/3, allowing one hit, no walks, with three strikeouts.

Besides Sagdal, the only other USA hit came from Matt Palazzo, who singled in the first inning.

Mexico’s Naranjo (0-1) took the tough-luck loss going the distance. He gave up two earned runs, walked four and struck eight. His only mistake, Sagdal’s game-winning blast.

Mexico’s five hits came from Rene Cardona, Ochoa (RBI), Ruben Delgadillo, Gustavo Priskher and Marco Gonzalez.

Now the most important part of the tournament begins – the playoffs that will decide the Pan American champion. As the fourth seed, the United States takes on No. 3 seed Venezuela (3-2), while No. 1 Canada (5-0) takes on No. 2 Argentina (3-2).

Both Canada and Argentina have double life because of finishing as the top two seeds, while for Team USA and Venezuela, the winner moves on for a chance to medal, and the loser goes home.

Derrick Zechman, Team USA third baseman.

Derrick Zechman, Team USA third baseman.

“Every pitch is going to count against Venezuela and it’s going to be one of the biggest games of our lives,” said third baseman Derrick Zechman. “Our pitching has been great all week, we just need to find a way to score more runs.”

FINAL ROUND ROBIN STANDINGS
Canada 5-0
Argentina 3-2
Venezuela 3-2
United States 2-3
Mexico 2-3
Dominican Republic 0-5

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