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Team USA Uses Long Ball to Run-Rule Japan at the World Cup of Softball IX, 8-1 (5 inn.)
IRVINE, Calif. – Same teams, different ending in a rematch of the 2013 World Cup of Softball finals as the U.S. captured an 8-1 (5 inn.) win over Japan on Friday night at the General Tire World Cup of Softball IX.
Coming from behind, Team USA utilized home runs from Valerie Arioto (Pleasanton, Calif.) and Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich.) to come out on top of the reigning World Cup of Softball Champions.
"Our team is just at the beginning," said USA Head Coach Ken Eriksen. "We've still got a lot of things we need to get better on to be ready for the World Championships later this summer. I was really happy with the pitching performance tonight, they really battled well."
Game Twelve: USA 8, Japan 1 (5)
Two U.S. batters combined for two home runs and six RBI as the USA defeated Japan 8-1 (5 inn.) in a rematch of the 2013 World Cup of Softball Championship. Arioto sent a two-run home run out of the park in the bottom of the fourth inning while Chidester send a three-run shot to end the game via run-rule in the bottom of the fifth.
"It's always great to end the game like that, but everyone was on the ball tonight," said Chidester. "Haylie started off the inning great and everyone behind her did their part, so coming up to bat I knew I needed to calm down and just play the game. Coach Dobson and Kellie gave me great tips before I came up to bat, so I just went up there and tried to have a clear mind."
The U.S. started Jessica Moore (Sutter, Calif.) in the circle, who kept the Japan batters off the bases in the first inning with a series of groundouts. USA would get two base runners on in the bottom half of the inning as Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) singled with two outs and was followed by a walk to Arioto, but a strike out ended the U.S. threat.
Japan got their first base runners in the top of the second inning as Sonoka Kuniyoshi singled with two outs and an error put another runner on base. A single from Nozomi Nagasaki loaded the bases, but a ground ball to Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) kept Japan off the scoreboard. The U.S. was retired in order in the bottom of the second inning, brining Japan back to the plate.
It was a tied ball game until the top of the third inning as Yu Yamamoto singled to right field to lead off. Back-to-back outs kept Yamamoto at first before USA intentionally walked Eri Yamada to put two Japanese runners on. Haruna Sakamoto then singled to center to plate Yamamoto and put Japan up 1-0.
Another three-up and three-down inning kept the lead in Japan's favor heading into the fourth inning. Japan would get one runner on in the top of the inning with a leadoff single, but the U.S. defense held strong with three groundouts to bring USA back to the plate.
Trailing 1-0, Gibson led off with a double to left field and was followed by Arioto's home run over left field, her fourth of the General Tire World Cup of Softball. With the home run, USA took the lead 2-1.
Jaclyn Traina (Naples, Fla.) entered the circle in the top of the fifth inning for USA and issued a walk to her first batter faced. The U.S. defense continued to shine as Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) connected with Arioto for a double play and got the third out of the inning with a ground ball.
USA continued to add the pressure offensively as Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) got a leadoff walk and was followed by a single from Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.). Chavanne hit an infield single to load the bases for the U.S. before back-to-back walks to Gibson and Arioto plated two USA runners to extend the lead to 4-1. A sac fly from Kellie Fox (San Diego, Calif.) added another run for Team USA.
With two runners on base, Chidester connected for the long ball, sending one over center field to end the game via run-rule with an 8-1, five inning victory.
Moore was lights out for the U.S., earning the win with four complete innings of work with one walk, five hits and one run allowed. Traina earned the save, issuing one walk in her one inning pitched with no hits allowed. For Japan, Yukari Hamamura took the loss after giving up two runs in three and one-third innings with one walk and three hits. Yamato Fujita entered in relief and issued three hits, three walks and allowed five runs before Kana Nakano closed out the game for Japan with one hit and one run allowed.
Up next for the U.S. is a matchup against Mexico at 10 a.m. PDT with the game airing live on ESPN2.
**courtesy of ASA/USA Softball