June 24, 2014
Tennessee outfielder Christin Stewart continues to star for the Team USA Collegiate National Team. In Monday's win over the High Point-Thomasville HiToms of the Coastal Plain League, he smacked a 3-run home run, and had a run-scoring double as he went 2-for-6. Stewart leads Team USA in batting with a .500 average (7-for-14), hits (7) and RBIs (6) through three games.
Complete release from USA Baseball
THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team launched three home runs - two by Zack Collins (Miami) and another by Christin Stewart (Tennessee) - and had seven extra-base hits on the night as it defeated the High Point-Thomasville HiToms of the Coastal Plain League, 10-4, on Monday night at Finch Field.
"Offensively I thought we did a great job of bouncing back," Team USA manager Dave Van Horn (Arkansas) said. "We score a run in the first and we give up a solo home run to tie it up quick but we took the lead right back in the second with a home run that was a no-doubter and a lot of fun to see. Our offense did a good job of hitting early in the count and, at the same time in certain at-bats, getting deep into advantage counts offensively and driving the ball.
"We have been working extremely hard offensively, now we just have to get our defense going a little bit but we are moving people around and playing guys out of position. That's what we are trying to do, see it for ourselves and prove a point to these guys maybe about who should be where."
The U.S. unit scored in each of the game's first six innings, including a four-run fifth to race out to a commanding 10-1 advantage. The HiToms got a three-run home run in the seventh to account for the game's final score.
Collins hit a pair of no-doubt home runs, a two-run bomb in the second and a solo shot in the fourth, and finished 2-for-2 with three RBIs and a walk in the contest. Stewart had a double to go with his three-run fifth-inning blast, driving in four runs in the game. Mark Matthias (Cal Poly) had three hits, including a pair of doubles, finishing 3-for-5 with a run scored.
UCLA right-hander and U.S. starter James Kaprelian picked up the win after yielding one run on two hits while striking out two over three innings. Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville) added two shutout innings of relief with three punchouts and Brandon Koch (Dallas Baptist) and Ryan Burr (Arizona State) fired scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth to close out the contest.
Following the contest, the two teams played an extra inning under international tiebreaker rules in order to help Team USA prepare for its upcoming trip to Honkbal Week in Haarlem, The Netherlands, and Friendship Series in Cuba.
After placing runners on first and second per the tiebreaker rules, the U.S. squad had Tate Matheny (Missouri State) lay down a sac bunt to move the runners up before an RBI groundout by Alex Bregman (LSU) brought in a run.
The HiToms used the same strategy with flamethrowing lefty Tyler Jay (Illinois) on the mound for the U.S. After a sac bunt of their own, Jay got a strikeout to put two outs on the board but a wild pitch brought in a run for the home team. A 14-pitch at-bat would then result in a base hit for HP-Thomasville before Trip Dunn ended the extra frame with a triple to center.
"More than anything we just wanted to show the players how the tiebreaker works," Van Horn said. "You put a couple guys on and then what's your strategy? It may be a little different if you are the visiting team or the home team. It's not about scoring one run if you are the visiting team, you need to score two or three.
"I thought it was a good learning experience. We were one pitch away from winning the tiebreaker. We had an 0-2 count and a wild pitch tied it up. Their hitter did a great job of fouling a lot of pitches and getting a base hit. We'll learn from that and do a better job next time. It was just practice, a dry run and it was good to get that out of the way."
The Collegiate National Team will continue its Red, White and Blue Tour when it travels to Fayetteville, N.C., on Tuesday to take on the Fayetteville SwampDogs 7 p.m. at J.P. Riddle Stadium. Houston right-hander Jake Lemoine will get the nod on the hill. Batting practice for the U.S. squad will run from 5:15-6 p.m.