COLEMAN FIELD/CARY It's the finale of the four-game Canada at USA exhibition series preparing for baseball's World Cup, and today the U.S. team will go for the sweep.
Team USA is batting in the top of the inning each time. And the ninth inning is going to be different no matter what as it's going to be played under international tiebreaker rules.
There's an active crowd on hand, as the National Training Complex is also the site this weekend of the Labor Day Cup involving 16 high level youth teams.
Canada is wearing some very odd jerseys. The national red is the primary color, but the letters and numbers are also in the identical color and lightly outlined in black. So it's anyone's guess as to who is who.
The USA gets off to a big start in the first off big right-hander Matt Kniginyzky, but doesn't get as much out of the rally as it should. It all turns out well in the end, though, as the USA wins 11-2.
Buck Coats and Trevor Plouffe lead off with back-to-back doubles, followed by a walk to Justin Smoak and a Terry Tiffee (pictured) single to center that sends Plouffe to third. But Josh Kroeger's one-out grounder to second provides the only other RBI for a 2-0 lead.
Todd Redmond pitched five perfect innings and his teammates held on as Team USA took a 6-5 exhibition victory over Canada on Saturday at Cary's Coleman Field.
The teams are preparing for the World Cup, to be held in The Netherlands, Italy and Germany later this month.
Terry Tiffee went 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead the U.S. offense.
The Red, White and Blue took a 3-0 lead off Chris Begg in the first on RBI from Justin Smoak, Tiffee and Pedro Alvarez.
Lucas May added a homer in the second for a 4-0 lead, which went to 6-0 on RBI singles from Tiffee and Josh Kroeger in the third.
Canada rallied for five runs before former Durham Bull Jason Childers (pictured) came on for a shutout ninth and his first save of the series.
The USA will go for a four-game sweep of the series today at 5 p.m. with Cory Luebke on the hill.
COLEMAN FIELD/CARY It's Game 2 of USA Baseball's friendly series against Canada, as both teams prepare to play in the World Cup in The Netherlands, Italy in Germany later this month.
The clubs are made up entirely of minor-league pros, with the USA team completely of Triple-A and Double-A players while the Canadians are from every level including a couple of former pro pitchers who are currently without contracts.
The series should be competitive, as Team USA won the opener 6-4 on Thursday night after the visitors had taken an early 3-0 lead.
Two of the USA players were with the Durham Bulls just a few days ago. Jon Weber is playing left field and hitting third, while Jason Childers came out of the bullpen for a scoreless inning on Thursday.
It's a mild night with no threat of rain out in one of the greenest parts of the Triangle. And it's a happy alcohol-free crowd that will get a chance to watch "The Bad News Bears" after the early game.
Panera Bread has brought sustenance to the press box. Let's play ball.
Team USA jumps on right-hander and former Giants organization farmhand Brooks McNiven for a three-spot in the first inning of a game the Americans eventually hold on to win 7-4.
Buck Coats (pictured) starts the rally with a one-out double to right. Weber then walks before Pedro Alvarez reaches on a fielder's-choice ball to third to force Weber. Ike Davis walks before Justin Smoak hits a two-run single to center. Tug Hulett's single to center makes it 3-0.
USA Baseball's World Cup team got off to a good start, holding off Canada 6-4 in the first of a four-game exhibition series at Coleman Field in Cary.
Jason Castro led the way with two hits and two runs scored for the Red, White and Blue.
The hosts put up three runs in the second off Nick Bucci, as Tug Hulett smacked a two-run double and Buck Coats a sacrifice fly.
Canada tied it in the third on an RBI infield hit from Rene Tosoni and a two-run double from Shawn Brown, then went up 4-3 on an Adam Loewen single in the fourth.
The Americans responded with two runs in the fifth on a Terry Tiffee grounder and a Josh Kroeger single, and added their last run in the sixth on a double-play ball.
Lucas Harrell was the winning pitcher in relief, while former Durham Bulls Cedrick Bowers and Jason Childers (pictured) each fired a hitless relief inning.
Game 2 is tonight at 6:30, with Brad Lincoln on the hill for Team USA.
COLEMAN FIELD/CARY They're coming together from 16 different major-league organizations, mostly from the Triple-A level and a few from Double-A.
But over the next few days, manager Eddie Rodriguez will have the job of molding them into a unit known as Team USA.
Twenty-three players gathered in Cary for media day this afternoon, as they begin getting ready to defend baseball's World Cup in Germany, The Netherlands and Italy next month with a series of exhibition games against Canada from Thursday through Sunday.
And there are a few familiar faces on the roster.
Outfielder Jon Weber (pictured) and right-handed reliever Jason Childers have been with the Durham Bulls all season, while left-hander Cedrick Bowers, who had been playing for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, is a former Bull.
Infielder Pedro Alvarez, who was with the Altoona Curve in the Eastern League, is a former member of the college-level USA National Team from 2006 and '07 while fellow infielder Justin Smoak, most recently with the Pacific Coast League's Oklahoma Redhawks, was also with that '07 club.
"We're representing our country first, our national pastime and the professionalism we stand for within the game," manager Eddie Rodriguez said during a lightly-attended media day event. "I've been associated with USA Baseball and I think that had a lot to do with (my selection as manager.) It's always an honor.
"For us, this level of competition is close to if not the equivalent of the Olympics. There are 22 countries participating and that's more than were in the last Olympics."
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON It's Game 3 of the Carolina Mudcats' five-game homestand against a hot Tennessee Smokies club, and if for nothing more than to lift the mood in the clubhouse the home team needs a victory.
Tennessee has been holding up its end of the deal recently in its three-way battle with in-state rivals West Tenn and Chattanooga, while the Mudcats - who come into the game with a "tragic number" of four with nearly two weeks left in the season - are going to have to get it going to finish fourth in the Southern League's North Division.
The Mudcats do have one of their marquee players back in Yonder Alonzo (pictured), who is back from Sarasota after going on the disabled list back on June 18 with a broken hamate bone in his right hand.
Tennessee's Jeremy Papelbon, who pitched on Sunday, is having a good day as he has been named the SL's pitcher of the week.
It looks like the weather is going to be good for this one, so after watching Smokies skipper Ryne Sandberg sign a long line of autographs let's get a cheeseburger and play ball.
This one gets ugly early, and ends up with the Smokies winning 16-9. Trust me, Monday's contest was a good one to miss.
Eddie Rodriguez will have the reins for USA Baseball's World Cup Team in September.
Rodriguez and his staff will lead a team made up of players not currently on 25-man big league rosters in the International Baseball Federation's (IBAF) world championships. Team USA is the defending champion in the event.
The U.S. team will play its pool games in Regensburg, Germany, against Venezuela, China and the Germans, with the remainder of the tournament in The Netherlands and Italy.
Rodriguez's staff will include pitching coach Kirk Champion, hitting coach Ernie Young, third base/bench coach Jamie Quirk and bullpen coach Rolando "Roly" de Armas.
The team, which will be named Aug. 30, will assemble in Cary and play friendlies against Canada from Sept. 3-6.
Nick Hill was just too much for the Carolina Mudcats.
The West Tenn Diamond Jaxx southpaw fired a three-hit complete game, giving his team a 7-1 win over visiting Carolina and a 3 games to 2 victory in the series. Hill is 4-4.
Hill (pictured), an alumnus of USA Baseball's National Team, had sat down 23 straight Mudcats batters after Shaun Cumberland's one-out single in the first to begin the ninth inning with a 7-0 lead. Carolina then broke the shutout with back-to-back doubles from Justin Tordi and Sean Henry.
UNC alumnus Marshall Hubbard hit a solo homer off Jeremy Horst (0-3) to get things going for West Tenn in the first. Travis Garcia also homered for West Tenn.
The loss dropped the Mudcats eight games behind first-place Chattanooga in the Southern League's North Division race.
Carolina, which went 3-7 on its road trip, has Tuesday off before beginning a five-game home set with the Birmingham Barons starting Wednesday.
Start up that classic '70s song from "Queen."
USA Baseball's National Team has won the World Baseball Challenge.
Drew Pomeranz (pictured) of Ole Miss took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, helping his team avenge an earlier defeat in an 8-1 pounding of Germany in the championship game in Prince George, B.C.
After the Germans scratched out a run in the first, the USA dominated the rest of the way.
Blake Forsythe of Tennessee tied the game in the bottom of the second with an RBI single. Then in the third, Rice's Rick Hague added an RBI single and Texas-Arlington's Michael Choice a solo homer over the left field fence.
The lead went to 6-1 in the fourth on a two-run double from Florida State's Tyler Holt. Then in the eighth, Miami's Yasmani Grandal and Middle Tennessee's Bryce Brentz added solo homers.
Choice, Grandal, Pomeranz and UCLA's Gerrit Cole were named to the all-tournament team. Choice earned the home-run hitting award with three while Hague took the best hitter award with a .474 average.
Team USA finished its season with a 19-5 record, with all five losses to teams from Eurasia.
The next over-18 USA team to play before the public will be the professional World Cup team, which will take on Canada for a three-game series in Cary beginning Sept. 3.
USA Baseball's National Team captain Christian Colon (pictured) will be unavailable for Sunday's championship game of the World Baseball Challenge in Prince George, B.C., after suffering a broken tibia and fibula Friday night.
Colon, the shortstop out of Cal State-Fullerton, was carried off the field in the top of the eighth after Canada's Nic Lendvoy came in with a hard slide during a 5-6-3 double play. After the collision both benches cleared, but no further violence ensued.
The USA won the pitchers' duel 1-0, after which the Americans declined to participate in a post-game handshake.
Colon is scheduled to receive additional medical treatment upon his return to Southern California on Sunday.
Team USA will face Germany, which gave the Americans their only loss in round-robin play, on Sunday at 7 p.m. (EDT) for the championship. The game will be streamed live online www.worldbaseball.ca.