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Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, June 28, 2000

U. S. A. _ B A S E B A L L

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
USA National Team shortstop Jeff Baker runs down
Japanese Collegiate All-Star Hiroki Fujitani for
the third out in the fifth inning.

USA batters
left speechless

Japanese Collegiate All-Star
pitcher baffles national team to
win second game of series

By Dave Reardon


Yuji Yoshimi doesn't speak a whole lot of English. But he's definitely got the meaning of two words mastered: "control" and "change-up."

The Japanese Collegiate All-Star left-hander kept the USA National Team off balance from beginning to end last night, pitching a three-hitter as Japan evened the five-game series at one win apiece with a 3-0 victory.

A Rainbow Stadium gathering of 622 saw the USA suffer a shutout for the first time since a 2-0 blanking by the Dominican Republic last July 16, three days before Nicaragua beat USA, 5-2 -- its most recent loss before last night.

USA fell to 5-1 on the season.

Japan won despite striking out 18 times. It was a strange reversal of Sunday's USA win, when the Americans struck out 15 times but won, 4-1.

Yoshimi fanned "only" eight USA batters last night, but they only hit the ball hard four times -- and three of those were double play balls to shortstop Manabu Yoneyama, all of which Japan converted.

"I was throwing the ball very low and the control and location of my pitches was especially good tonight," Yoshimi said through interpreter Kazuhiro Hanabata.

Yoshimi's pitches -- his fastball was timed consistently in the 85- to 89-mph range -- were tough in any language.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Japanese Collegiate All-Star Masahiro Abe forces out
USA base runner Xavier Nady at second and
completes a double play.

Patrick Boyd got the only solid hit off him, a line drive single to right in the fifth inning.

"His change-up was effective because he established his fastball early," Boyd said. "He never threw a pitch over the middle of the plate. The only time he got it high was because he wanted to, and we weren't looking for it."

Yoshimi also used an effective curve ball.

"Their guy Yoshimi was really good," USA coach Mike Gillespie said. "He controlled the game, he was in command of the game. His three pitches were all really tough. Our combination (of three pitchers) did a good job, but the game was his."

USA starter Mark Prior struck out nine in four innings, but also gave up Japan's only earned run, in the first inning.

"They didn't hit anything hard," Prior said. "They used the turf to their advantage and got grounders to run through the infield. They did what they had to to win."

Yoneyama walked with one out in the first and stole second, and Jun Hirose singled him home.

Japan scored twice more in the fifth off reliever Dewann Brazelton. Both runs were unearned, as Brazelton botched a throw on a sacrifice bunt. Koji Kajiwara and Takashi Hida drove in a run each with singles.

Brazelton struck out five in 2-1/3 innings, and Mike Gosling finished up with four strikeouts in the last 1-2/3.

Gosling also hit two batters, including a scary plunk off the helmet of Kazutaka Fujita. The ball went all the way to third baseman Mark Teixiera on the fly.

Fujita, shaken at first, appeared to be OK. He still came out of the game as a precaution.

The record for strikeouts by USA pitching in one game is 19, set Aug. 12, 1993, against Argentina, and tied one week ago against Mexico.

The USA-Japan series continues Friday at Dodger Stadium and moves to Arizona for a Monday game in Phoenix and the finale Tuesday in Tucson.


Burke lf 2 0 0 0 Suzuki 2b 2 0 0 0
Merritt rf 4 0 0 0 M. Abe 2b 2 0 0 0
Teixeira 3b 3 0 0 0 Yoneyama ss 4 2 1 0
Nady 1b 3 0 1 0 Hirose lf 3 1 1 1
Crosby dh 3 0 0 0 S. Abe dh 2 0 0 0
Boyd cf 3 0 1 0 Kimoto 3b 3 0 0 0
Myers c 3 0 0 0 Matsueda 3b 1 0 0 0
Baker ss 2 0 0 0 Kajiwara 1b 2 0 0 0
Lewis 2b 3 0 1 0 Fujitani 1b 2 0 2 1

Hida rf 4 0 1 1

Ishihara c 4 0 3 0

Fujita cf 3 0 1 0

Sasaki cf 0 0 0 0
Totals 26 0 3 0 Totals 32 3 9 3

USA 000 000 000 - 0 3 1
Japan 100 020 00x - 3 9 1

E-Brazelton, Kimoto.

DP-Japan 3 (Yoneyama-Suzuki-Kajiwara, Yoneyama-M. Abe-Fujitani 2). LOB-USA 2, Japan 11.

2B-Lewis, Fujitani. SB-Baker, Yoneyama, Hirose, Ishihara, Fujita 2. CS-Burke, Fujitani.


Prior (L, 0-1) 4 3 1 1 3 9
Brazelton 2-1/3 4 2 0 0 5
Gosling 1-2/3 2 0 0 0 4


Yoshimi (W, 1-0) 9 3 0 0 3 8

HBP-by Prior (Hirose), by Gosling (Fujita, M. Abe). Umpires-Montalvo (plate), Torres (first), Ogawa (third). T-2:48. A-622.

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