Homers and Montero send Team USA to opening round defeat in Men’s Softball World Championship

Written by Bob on July 8th, 2017

WHITEHORSE, YK, Canada – The long ball and the pitching of Maxi Montero gave Argentina a 5-1 first-round victory over the United States in the 2017 XV Men’s Softball World Championship at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse, Friday night.

Team USA certainly got the start they wanted when second baseman Tyler Dudley drilled a double up the middle, scoring Matt Palazzo, who walked to open the game.

But Argentina struck right back in the bottom half when Ladislao Malarczuk homered over the right-field fence to even the score. And from that point on, the offensive firepower belonged to the Argentinians.

Solo shots by Gonzalo Ojeda in the third and Bruno Motroni in the fifth, along with Francisco Lombardo’s fourth inning, two-run double, highlighted the Argentinians nine hit attack.

Four of the runs came off Team USA’s Tony Mancha, who endured “inches” of bad luck. Malarczuk’s homer barely cleared the fence, bouncing off and over the top rail just out of the reach of right-fielder Matt Ratliff as he crashed into and over the barrier.

And Mancha threw the kind of pitch any coach or catcher would want against Lombardo: a two-strike, waste pitch over the right-side hitter’s head (no exaggeration) on the outside of the plate. But Lombardo somehow, someway reached up and pulled Mancha’s rise ball down the left side, just inches in play.

Mancha’s line reads four innings, eight hits, four runs, two walks, and ten strikeouts in his five innings.

Jeremy Manley came on in relief and finished the final two innings. He gave up a first-pitch home run to Motroni, but after that pitched well, holding Argentina hitless with two strikeouts.

As for Montero, he got stronger as the game went on.

Argentina’s MAXI MONTERO Held The USA to one run in the opening game for both teams of the 2017 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championships at the Pepsi Softball Center in Whitehorse, YK Canada, July 7, 2017. Courtesy Photo

After Team USA roughed up the right-hander for two hits and the lone run in the first inning, he allowed just two safeties – Matt Ratliff’s single in the second and Matt Palazzo’s double in the sixth – over the next five innings.

Montero departed after the sixth with a four-hitter, two walks, one run and nine strikeouts. Roman Godoy finished off the seventh with a pair of strikeouts and ground ball.

For Team USA, Ratliff, Palazzo, Ochoa and Dudley each hit safely, while Argentina’s nine hits came from Gustavo Godoy, 2-for-3, and Teo Migliavaca, Javie Peker, Lombardo, Malarczuk, Montroni, Juan Cruz Zara, and Ojeda with a hit each.

The road to the medal stand doesn’t get easier for either team. The 16-team tournament is divided into two Sections A and B.

The USA and Argentina face daunting opposition in pool A from Canada, Australia and Dominican Republic, along with South Africa, India and Hong Kong.

Team USA takes on Australia, Saturday at 4:30 (PT), while Argentina will battle Canada at 7 p.m.

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