COLEMAN FIELD/CARY It's the finale of the big five-game series between the USA National (Collegiate) Team and the high school boys from Canada.
Before the game there's a huge networking event among a couple of dozen Chamber of Commerce organizations, etc. The Carolina Hurricanes and the Durham Bulls and the Carolina Railhawks all have booths, as do numerous well-known local restaurants. At least what serves as the press meal is healthy tonight - until they bring in the leftover chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon bagels.
Bill Coleman, long-time former Cary town manager, throws the ceremonial pitch on a night the stadium is dedicated in his name. It's a lot friendlier moniker than the "National Training Complex," huh?
Early in the game Cary Mayor Pro-Tem Julie Aberg Robison comes into the press box and sits for a bit. I can't resist picking her brain for a little politics. One thing she points out is the need to raise awareness of what a classy complex the town has put together, and she's absolutely right.
And since apparently I'm the only local keyboard media type covering this game - which the USA wins 9-3 - the problem is pretty apparent.
Anyway, the game gets going in front of a very polite crowd that seems as if it got lost going to a tennis or golf event. Not like DBAP or even Five County. Those wanting beer had to get it at the networking event.
So it gets going and nobody scores in the first. In the second, the USA run machine fires up. The hosts score two in the second on a hit and an error, then two more in the third with the first RBI hit by Michael Choice (pictured) of Texas-Arlington.
Then something happens that any real sports fan has to appreciate. After Darren Kolk singles to lead off the fourth, Kellin Deglan of Langley, B.C., puts a 2-1 pitch from Citadel rising junior Asher Wojciechowski over the wall in right to cut the lead to 4-2. Wojo will be 21 years old in December while Deglan turned 17 a few weeks ago. It's the Canucks' only tater in the five-game series.
The USA scores another in the fourth and three in the fifth, etc., etc. Choice leads the nine-hit attack with a double and a single for three RBI.
Here's what they said ...
USA skipper Rick Jones, from Tulane: "The biggest concern I have is that we need every at-bat, every pitch, every inning. We've got to keep getting better as the competition gets better."
Choice: "It was very important to get the sweep. The team went undefeated last year and we have pressure on us. We don't want to lose a game."
Deglan: "The guy was throwing good. I just had to get the bat on the ball. He threw me as fastball, middle in, and I got all of it."
What does it all mean?
The USA has a 29-game win streak, including an unbeaten season in '08 that included a win over Cuba's World Baseball Classic team last year.
Stars of the game
3. Wojciechowski, for striking out eight and allowing two runs in 5 2/3 in the win.
Play of the game
Deglan's homer, eh?
USA leads 5-0.
USA: Won 29 (we'll include last year from now on.)
Canada: Lost 5.
Guatemala at USA, Wednesday, 7:05 p.m., Kannapolis
TBA vs. Drew Pomeranz (left)