USA Baseball team opens games with win over Czech Republic

USA Baseball team opens games with win over Czech Republic

Courtesy Cal State Fullerton Athletics

GWANGJU, Korea- July 6, 2015 – Cal State Fullerton, representing the USA, had to dodge a late rally by the Czech Republic but managed to scratch out a 5-4 victory Monday night at Mudeung Stadium in the opening game of the World University Games.

Josh Vargas, Chris Hudgins, Tanner Pinkston and Dalton Blaser each tallied two hits for Team USA, which used a four-run first and 11-hit offensive attack in the win. The USA also swiped five bases on the night, including two by Vargas.

On the mound, sophomore John Gavin started for the USA and went three innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits. He struck out one. Freshman Colton Eastman picked up the win after going four superb innings of relief. Eastman did not allow a hit in four frames, walked two and struck out five. Chad Hockin picked up the save despite allowing two runs on two hits. 

With the USA leading 5-2 in the ninth, Czech Republic mounted a two-out rally against Chad Hockin to cut into the USA lead. Petr Zyma walked with one out and then Petr Sila doubled inside the bag at third with two outs to plate the run and make it 5-3. Leadoff hitter Michal Ondracek then followed with a double of his own to plate Sila and make it 5-4. But Hockin got Adam Hajtmar to hit a chopper to Pinkston at first for the last out of the game to secure the win for the USA.

The USA got things started right away, taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Vargas led off with a bunt-single and then stole second. He advanced to third on a groundout by Timmy Richards and came around to score on Hudgins’ single to center to make it 1-0.

Pinkston then snuck a single through the middle after the Czech Republic’s middle infielders had a miscommunication. Jerrod Bravo walked to load the bases and then Blaser singled to plate another run and make it 2-0. The big blow came from Tristan Hildebrandt, who laced a two-out single to center to put the USA 4-0 after one inning.

The Czech Republic cut slightly into that lead in the second inning thanks to some defensive miscues. An error allowed one Petr Cech to get aboard and then a wild pitch moved him over to second base. With two outs, a throwing error allowed the run to score to cut the USA lead to 4-1.

The Czech Republic added another run in the third thanks to a two-out RBI single from first baseman Tomas Junec to make it 4-2.

It stayed that way until the sixth when Hunter Cullen fought all the way back from an 0-2 count to work a two-out walk against Czech Republic starter Tomas Duffek. Vargas then stepped in and smacked a double over the reach of the first baseman and down the line in right to plate Cullen and make it 5-2 USA.

The USA joins Chinese Taipei atop the Group B standings after the opening day of competition after Chinese Taipei walloped Mexico, 9-1, earlier in the day at Mudeung Stadium.

The USA will face Mexico on Tuesday at KIA Champions Field at noon KT. First pitch will be 8 p.m. Monday night back in California.  Make sure to follow the Titans on Twitter, @BaseballTitans, for live in-game updates throughout the World University Games.