USA Team rallies for win over Korea, will face Czech Republic in semifinals
USA Team came off the deck late for a huge comeback win.
Trailing by two, USA plated four runs in the ninth inning Saturday to knock off Korea, 6-4, pushing USA off to a 4-1 start at the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan.
The four medal round, or Super Round, teams — USA, Japan, Czech Republic and Korea — are now reseeded 1-4 for the semifinals. Team USA, which is comprised of Iowa players and coaches, is the No. 2 seed and will face Czech Republic again on Sunday at 10 p.m. CT.
Facing a 4-2 ninth-inning deficit, USA quickly loaded the bases with no outs on two singles and a walk. Chris Whelan then followed with a bases-clearing double to give the USA a 5-4 advantage, and Ben Norman tacked on some insurance with a RBI single.
Zach Daniels pitched a clean bottom half for his first save of the tournament, capping a Team USA bullpen effort that included four pitchers — Kyle Shimp, Shane Ritter, Ben Probst and Daniels — yielding only two hits and two earned runs over six innings.
The relievers picked up right where starter Grant Judkins left off. The sophomore right-hander surrendered three hits and one run over three frames. Whelan finished 2-for-5, one of five American batters with multihit days. Robert Neustrom got USA on the board early with a first-inning solo homer.
“It was a great comeback in the ninth,” USA coach Rick Heller said in a school release. “I am proud of our team. It was a tough turnaround (after last night); we came out with a lot of energy and played hard. We had a lot of hits, but not a lot of runs; it was disappointing because we had opportunities to break it open in the first three or four innings, but we couldn't get the two-out hit.
“It looked like a game where we would out-hit them by six or seven and not get the win, but we found a way in the end and stuck with it. The reliever that came in for Korea did a nice job — he shut us down for four or five innings — but he ran out of gas in the ninth, and we were able to take advantage of it.”
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.