There was no late-inning drama this time around.
Backed by a strong offensive showing that permeated throughout the lineup, USA Team (made up entirely of University of Iowa players) quickly jumped on Russia and cruised to a 13-3 run-rule win in seven innings Tuesday at the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan. USA is now 2-0 and will advance to the medal round out of Pool B, along with Japan.
As was the case during much of Iowa’s impressive 2017 season, the top of the order was the primary catalyst. USA's 1-3 hitters of Chris Whelan, Ben Norman and Robert Neustrom combined for eight hits, three runs scored and nine RBIs. Second baseman Mitchell Boe was impactful from the No. 9 hole as well, scoring four times while going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
"It was a good night for us," USA coach Rick Heller said in a school release. "We got the bats going. Early in the game, we had opportunities but didn't get the two-out hit. After the third inning, guys loosened up, and we started barreling some balls up. The bats came to life, and guys up and down the lineup started getting comfortable. That was good to see."
USA racked up 14 hits, with seven different starters picking up a base knock. That support was more than enough for right-hander Sammy Lizarraga, who yielded three hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts. Cole McDonald pitched the final 1 2/3 frames, surrendering only a walk and a hit by pitch in seven batters.
USA faces Japan on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. CT in the final round-robin contest.
"They beat Russia pretty good," Whelan said. "I know they are going to be a tough opponent — probably our toughest in pool play — but I think we're ready to play."
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 email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.