By MARK TUPPER
Decatur Herald & Review Sports Editor
July 17, 1996
DECATUR, IL – If the United States plans to win the gold medal at the International Softball Federation World Championship next month, it will almost certainly have to survive a challenge like it faced Sunday.
Key hitting and pressure pitching led USA past Green Bay (Wis.) All-Car, 2-1, in the championship game of the Herald & Review Shootout at Borg-Warner Field.
Todd Schultz led off the game with a home run off losing pitcher Michael Gaiger for USA’s first run.
And with the game tied 1-1 in the sixth, Scott Deuel was hit by a pitch and scored on Mike Larabee’s triple into the left-center field gap.
But the real thrills came in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings when USA relief pitcher Scott Plangger escaped trouble-some situations.
Green Bay’s Todd Stevenson led off the sixth with a triple. But Plangger wiggled off the hook by retiring Steve Kernan, Chris Kohnle and Mark Sorenson in succession.
Sorenson had already belted a home run in the fourth inning.
Then in the seventh, Green Bay’s Ray Atkinson led off with a double. He was sacrificed to third by Matt Kohnle but Planagger fanned John Becker and got Jesse Delorit to ground out to end the game.
“Planagger showed a lot of guts,” said USA Coach Denny Bruckert. “To close the door the way he did in those last two innings was something. Really, we got pretty good pitching after the Decatur game (a 6-5 loss on Friday).”
This was the final exhibition game for the USA (11-1). They will assemble in Midland, Mich., on July 1 and play their first game in the ISF World Tournament on July 5.
USA advanced to the “Big Shootout” title game with a 5-1 victory over Madison, (Wis.) The Farm Tavern. USA scored four times in the first inning with Shawn Rychcik driving in two of the runs.
Green Bay reached the title game with a 2-1 victory over Marathon (Wis.) County Concrete. Matt Kohnle hit a two-run inside-the-park homer as Michael White pitched a five-hitter.
White was named the Shootout’s most valuable pitcher and Keith Peterson of Madison was named the most valuable player.