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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Four for July: USA quartet makes history as Guatemalans go hitless

Posted by on Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 11:14 PM

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COLEMAN FIELD/CARY It's Game 2 of the USA National Team series against Guatemala, and the main suspense is to see whether or not the visitors can get closer than Wednesday night's 15-1 loss in Kannapolis.

It's partly cloudy and warm - temperatures in the high '80s - and the crowd for this one is pretty sparse.

There are no food freebies for the media tonight. Bummer. At least I've called ahead to find out and had a good meal at home with the family.

Already today I've been at Durham Bulls Athletic Park to do an interview with a player for a "Top 50 prospects" project for a baseball website.

The Bulls weren't home on Wednesday either and neither were the Carolina Mudcats, making it one of those rare days since March on which there wasn't at least one high quality baseball game in the Triangle.

That off-day gave me some time for some serious exploration of Facebook, which I had never bothered to join until last weekend. I'm going to start posting my Indy posts to my page every day, as well as putting them all on Twitter, where I am "mikepotterrdu."

Guatemala has about the widest age range I have ever seen on a baseball team that plays together regularly. Infilelder Jorge Gutierrez, who got the only two hits on Wednesday, is 42, while center fielder Manuel Hernandez is 16.

And apparently on what turns out to be an historic night, I am the only journalist covering the game for local media (Baseball America is also in the house) as the USA wins 10-0 on the first regular-season no-hitter in team history. UCLA's Gerrit Cole (pictured), The Citadel's Asher Wojciechowski, Tulane's Nick Pepitone and Texas Tech's Chad Bettis team up for the feat. (The 9-0 win against Canada in 2004 at DBAP was during the team's "trials" phase.)

The USA takes an early lead in the second. With two out, Hawaii's Kolten Wong singles to left center, steals second and third and scores on a double to left from Middle Tennessee's Bryce Brentz.

Meanwhile, Cole - whose fastball has been clocked at 101 - is mowing down the Guatemalans, retiring the first 11 and then walking three straight in the fourth before recording his seventh strikeout of the evening.

The score goes to 2-0 in the fourth. Arkansas' Andy Wilkins walks and takes second on a wild pitch, later scoring on a two-out single to right from Wright State's Casey McGrew.

Cole leaves the game with two out in the sixth, having struck out 11 Guatemalans with four walks and a goose egg still sitting in the "H" column when he hits his 90-pitch limit.

Blake Forsythe of Tennessee makes it 3-0 with one out in the seventh when he blasts a first pitch over the wall in left. That starts a seven-run rally, including a pair of two-run singles from Brentz and Cal State-Fullerton's Christian Colon.

And the home team adds another run in the eighth before the no-no is completed.

The bombs bursting in air

Fireworks will follow both Friday's game in Cary and Saturday's 6:05 p.m. series finale at DBAP.

Here's what they said ...

USA skipper Rick Jones: "I didn't know we were making history, but it was certainly a lot of fun. ... We want to do the same thing with USA Baseball that we do with our program at Tulane. We don't overwork pitchers."

Cole: "I didn't really have my good stuff tonight, but it was good enough to get the job done. I could have gone beyond the 90 pitches, but we have to protect arms and we have a great bullpen. "

Bettis: "I wasn't nervous when I went out there. I just had to go out and throw strikes. All I threw were fastballs."

What does it all mean?

That the USA stayed perfect on the season with a second straight historic night against the Guatemalans.

Stars of the game

1. Cole.

2. Bettis.

3. Wong, with two hits including a double with two steals.

Play of the game

Forsythe's homer that made it 3-0.

Season series

USA leads 2-0.


USA: Won 31.

Guatemala: Lost 2.

On deck

Guatemala at USA, Friday, 6:30 p.m., Cary

TBA vs. Trevor Bauer (right)

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