Team USA suffers third loss in ISF World Championship

Written by Bob on March 2nd, 2013

Matt Palazzo hit two home runs to lead Team USA against South Africa. From Des Moines, Iowa, Palazzo is a three-time ASA First Team All American, and Second Team, once.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – The question being bandied about Facebook was, “has Team USA ever lost to South Africa?”

Well, the past remains unknown, but for the present, the answer is yes.

South Africa rode a solo home run in the first inning by Renier Viljoen (1 for 4) and a three-run blast in the fifth by Grant Olivier (1-2) to defeat the United States, 5-3, in the third game of pool play for both teams on March 3.

With the loss, Team USA falls to 0-3 in the International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championship, March 1-10, at Rosedale Park in Auckland. While South Africa picks up its first win, and improves to 1-2 in pool play.

South Africa was blasted by Venezuela 6-0 and the Czech Republic 8-1, before its pitching seemed to solidify against the United States.

Team US scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning on a solo home run by third baseman Matt Palazzo (3 for 4, 2 RBI), and a single by Derrick Zechman (2-4) that brought home Josh Johnson (1-3, run), who doubled with two outs.

But South Africa’s pitching of Richard Claasen and Grant Oliver toughened, holding Team USA scoreless from the second through sixth innings.

The United States threatened in the seventh when Palazzo blasted his second home run of the game, but Oliver got Frank DeGroat (1-4) on a strikeout, and Roman Foore (0-1) on a fly ball to end the game.

Claasen went three innings, allowing 3 earned runs on 5 hits with 6 strikeouts. And Olivier finished the final four innings, giving up but 3 hits, 1 earned run and struck out 4.

But Team USA only needs to look back at the nine base runners they left stranded, failing to come up with the big hit with runners on first and second, or second and third. Except for the sixth inning, the United States threatened with runners aboard, but South Africa pitching got five strikeouts, a ground ball and fly ball to escape unscathed.

For the United States, Travis Price started, hurled three innings, allowing 2 earned runs on 4 hits, before giving way to Gerald Muizelaar who went 3 innings, and gave up 3 earned runs, while striking out 4.

Both pitchers were hurt by the long ball. Price’s first pitch of the game left the park, and Muizelaar allowed only one hit in his appearance, but it too went over the fence. Two pitches accounting for four of South Africa’s five runs.

Josh Johnson finished up the seventh in fine fashion by allowing no hits, walking one and striking out one.

The United States returns to action tomorrow against the Czech Republic, currently 2-1. Team USA’s final three playoffs come against Indonesia (0-3), Venezuela (3-0), and Great Britain (0-3)

Pool A
Finish Team W L RF RA
Australia 3 0 23 0
United States 0 3 5 14
Venezuela 3 0 14 0
Great Britain 0 3 0 10
Czech Republic 2 1 18 11
South Africa 1 2 6 17
Indonesia 0 3 13 31
Samoa 3 0 16 12

Pool B
Finish Team W L RF RA
New Zealand 3 0 16 2
Canada 3 0 18 1
Japan 1 2 10 10
Argentina 2 1 9 3
Philippines 0 3 2 19
Mexico 1 2 11 15
Colombia 2 1 10 7
Netherlands 0 3 5 24

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