Team USA tops HiToms, 5-2

Jun. 29, 2013 @ 11:49 PM

A couple mistakes proved costly, but overall the HiToms played solidly in a 5-2 loss against the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team on Saturday at Finch Field.

For the game, Team USA capitalized on two errors, scoring four unearned runs, and took control with a four-run fourth inning. But the HiToms, who lost five straight coming in, stayed within reach against many of the country’s best college players.

“I thought we played well,” HiToms manager Zach Brown said. “I’m happy with the effort. I knew we were going to come out ready to go. I expect the same thing tomorrow. Usually when you play someone good, you play good because you know it can get bad in a hurry.”

After scoring once in the first, Team USA, which improved to 7-0 in its tour of Coastal Plain League teams, pulled ahead 5-0 in the top of the fourth. Following an error on a would-be double-play ball, Brad Zimmer drove in one on a sacrifice fly.

Then, with the bases loaded and two outs following back-to-back walks, C.J. Hinojosa roped a double to right to clear the bases. Hinojosa finished 2 for 4, including two doubles, and drove in three runs — plus very nearly hit a home run, driving one to the wall in in the ninth.

But the HiToms, who concluded first-half CPL play at 13-15, countered with some solid play to remain within reach. Weston Jackson drew a bases-loaded walk to score Kyle Martin in the bottom of the fourth, and Martin blasted a solo home run over the net in right in the eighth.

“Coming in against Team USA, you know you’re going to play a good team,” said Martin, who also pitched well in relief, allowing just one hit in two innings. “I think we came out pretty strong. We hit the ball well, hit it hard but right at people. Soon we’ll find holes, hopefully.

“Pitching, I just wanted to go in and throw strikes, try to get outs and get my team back in the dugout. And hitting the ball, I’m still trying to work on a few things, trying to get everything back. I just tried to make an adjustment, tried to have everything together and put a good swing on it.”

Cole Irvin got the win in relief for Team USA, allowing one hit while striking out four in 3 ⅓ innings. Ryan Burr, the hard-throwing closer, picked up the save with a perfect ninth. Dylan Stoops took the loss for the HiToms, allowing five runs (one earned) in five innings.

“It’s a big confidence builder,” Brown said of his team’s performance. “I hope tomorrow we can come out and play even better. You can use momentum as a hammock or as a springboard. I thought we played well tonight, and we need to use it as a springboard.

“I think they realize that if they come out and play a little flat, then it can be 15-0 real quick. I hope we can use it as a springboard and carry it over into the second half. We’ve got all of our players now, so we’re excited and I think our lineup shapes up really well.”

The teams play again this evening at 5 at Finch Field, as Team USA continues its preparation for series against Japan and Cuba next month.