Team USA Better than Cuba in Pitching Duel


Four USA Baseball Collegiate National Team pitchers combined to hold Cuba to four hits and didn’t allow a runner past first base en route to a 1-0 victory Saturday night.

“It means the world to me to get this win,” said Brandon Finnegan (TCU). “It’s only happened one time in history, and the fact that we just did it amps me up a lot. I don’t think words can explain what it means to wear this uniform. Not a lot of guys get to, and the fact that I am one of 24 on this roster means the world to me.”

Pitching has dominated the series, as the teams played their third straight one-run ballgame. The difference in Saturday’s win for Team USA was a fourth-inning run. It marked the only half inning in the game that a team sent more than four batters to the plate. Cuba and Team USA managed just five base runners apiece.

“I had every pitch working,” said Finnegan. “I threw a lot of sliders and they missed a lot of them. I had all three of my pitches working. I was rolling and I let my defense do the work. It’s been a tough series, but they are the best in their country. It’s unreal to be able to play against them.”

Cuba’s Norge Ruiz dominated his first time through the order, striking out five of the first nine batters faced. The second time through the order got off to a strong start for Team USA, as Trea Turner (NC State) opened the fourth with a base hit to left-center. LSU’s Alex Bregman followed with a base knock to give Team USA a pair of base runners. With one out and runners on the corners, Michael Conforto (Oregon State) broke the scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly to left.

Team USA was in full control of the game, from the mound to the defense. The Red, White and Blue played flawless defense for the second game in the series, and on the mound, Finnegan (3-1) shut down Cuba’s offense for seven innings. He allowed just four total base runners on three hits and a first-inning walk. A one-out single in the second was erased on a double play.

In the eighth inning, Team USA turned to the bullpen to get the final six outs. David Berg (UCLA) pitched in his third straight game, collecting the first two outs of the eighth. He gave up one hit and struck out two. Chris Diaz (Miami, Fla.) did his job, striking out the only batter he faced to end the frame. Arizona State’s Ryan Burr had a bounce-back outing as he retired the side in order in the ninth for his fourth save of the summer. He struck out the game’s final batter to lock up the series victory for Team USA.

“To come back and win on our own turf against a very good team is awesome,” Burr said. “It’s awesome to play in front of your own crowd. Your friends and family are here to watch. It’s hard to put into words.”

The victory ensures the series win for Team USA. The Collegiate National Team is 18-3 overall this summer and 3-0 against Cuba. The series shifts to North Carolina for the final two games. UNLV’s Erick Fedde will start Game 4 Monday night at the National Training Complex in Cary.

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