USA Team opens World University Games with 3-2 win over Mexico
Offense was at a premium to open the World University Games, but USA Team, which was comprised of Iowa players and coaches, found just enough late for a narrow win.
Despite going hitless for seven-plus innings, the USA strung together three knocks in the eighth and pushed across two runs, holding on for a 3-2 victory over Mexico in Taipei, Taiwan.
"Both teams set offense back about 30 years tonight," USA coach Rick Heller said in a University of Iowa press release. "Their pitcher did a good job changing speeds, and he was just wild enough that he was effective.
"All of us felt like if we stuck with the plan, it would come back around to us. (Mexico) gave us the first run and they were walking and hitting guys; we just needed somebody to give us a big hit."
Locked in a 1-1 tie, Ben Norman was plunked to open the eighth and moved to third on Robert Neustrom’s single — first hit of the night for Team USA. Tyler Cropley then followed with a sacrifice fly after Neustrom stole second, and the right fielder later scored on Brett McCleary’s RBI single to left for a 3-1 lead.
Mexico made things interesting in the ninth against right-hander Zach Daniels — plating one and bringing the tying run to third — but a flyout to center preserved the USA win. It was an otherwise strong day for Heller’s pitching staff, which combined to yield three hits and one earned run.
Parkland College-transfer Brady Schanuel kicked the day off in fine fashion, tossing 5 1/3 innings of hitless ball with eight strikeouts. With the rotation departures of Nick Gallagher, Ryan Erickson and C.J. Eldred, the Hawkeyes will almost certainly need Schanuel to provide quality weekend innings in 2018.
"Brady did a great job," Heller said. "He had some issues and fought out of some jams early, but when he was in the zone, he was good. His fastball was coming out well and he found his breaking ball in the third inning and brought us to the sixth. That's what we were hoping to get out of him."
Allgeyer and Daniels tossed the final 3 2/3 frames, combining for five strikeouts and one walk. USA is back in action on Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. (CT) against Russia.
Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.