MACON, Ga. – Sparked by a mammoth two-run home run by Bryson Stott (UNLV), the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team bounced back from a three-run deficit and held off a furious ninth-inning rally to clinch the series win over Japan with a 7-6 victory at Luther Williams Field, home of the Macon Bacon.
Trailing 3-0 going into the sixth, the Team USA bats caught fire in the final three innings. After recording just two extra-base hits in the first three games of the series combined, the red, white, and blue had three doubles and two home runs in the last three frames on Sunday alone.
With its third win, the U.S. has officially clinched the 42nd U.S. vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series, improving its series record to 24-18, including a 21-1 mark in series held in the United States. The Collegiate National Team now holds a 127-105-2 record all-time in games against Japan.
After getting rained out in Charleston on Saturday, the fifth and final game between the U.S. and Japan has been rescheduled to take place at SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves, at 1:30 p.m. CT on Monday. The contest is open to the scouting community and those on the team pass list.
Four different players had multi-hit contests on Sunday as Team USA tallied a series-high 12 hits. Stott and Dominic Fletcher (Arkansas) both hit two-run home runs in the win, while Andrew Vaughn (California) and Adley Rutschman (Oregon State) each finished 2-for-4 with a single and a double each.
Josh Jung (Texas Tech) also had a solid day at the plate, reaching in all four of his appearances with a single, three walks, and a run scored.
Pitching in relief, Parker Caracci (Ole Miss) picked up the win with 3.1 shutout innings. He struck out three and allowed just one hit. Max Meyer (Minnesota) pitched the ninth to record his team-leading fifth save of the summer and third against Japan.
Making his second start of the series, Japan right-hander Wataru Matsumoto was terrific once again, striking out seven in 5.2 innings. For the series, he now has 23 strikeouts in 12.2 innings of work, allowing just three runs on 10 hits.
Team USA had an early opportunity to break the game open, loading the bases with nobody out in the home half of the second, but Japan was able to escape unscathed, retiring a runner at the plate on a fielder’s choice before Matsumoto snared a one-hopper back to the mound to start an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.
Japan took the momentum and ran with it, scoring three runs in the next frame. Motoki Mukoyama got the ball rolling with a solo home run over the wall in left in his first at-bat of the series. A couple of two-out RBIs later in the inning on a perfectly executed hit-and-run and a run-scoring, quickly put the U.S. in a 3-0 hole.
The red, white, and blue wasn’t about to go quietly though with a long sacrifice fly by Bryant Packard (ECU) plating the team’s first run in the bottom of the sixth. The next batter then tied the game as Stott (UNLV) launched a towering moonshot down the right-field line and into the train yard beyond the wall for a two-run home run that brought the game back to even at 3-3.
Vaughn then gave the U.S. its first lead of the day in the seventh with a two-RBI double to left. Although Japan got one of those runs back in the top of the eighth, Fletcher responded in the home half of the stanza with what would turn out to be a critical two-run longball over the wall in right.
With a 7-4 lead and two outs in the ninth, Team USA looked well on its way to victory, but Japan had other ideas. After a walk put runners on the corners, Japan pinch-hitter Ryosuke Aizawa punched a seeing-eye single into right. Two U.S. throwing errors later, he stood on third as the potential tying run as both runners on base crossed the plate to cut the Team USA lead down to one.
Meyer was able to buckle down, however, inducing a pop-out to Stott at short two batters later to seal the win and the series victory.