Everything seemed to be against the organizers and the fans on the opening day of the 4th World University Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic as rain poured down since the early morning. However, the weather changed in the afternoon so people had patiently waited for the opening ceremony of the 4th World University Baseball Championship. Rain came back during the speeches of Ostrava city politicians and the president of the Czech Baseball Association and delayed the start of the game for about 25 minutes. Both teams started the game with a lot of water coming down at them. It was a classic pitchers duel in the first half, fans under umbrellas could see strike outs and flawless defence, with no team being able to score. Finally in the sixth the Korean team got used to pitching first, scoring two runs. The Czech team came back with Simon Kudernatch´s homerun over the centre field wall to close the gap to one. After the scoreless seventh the Czechs pushed to change it all around. With runners on first and second Petrik hit a single but the base runner was tagged out at the plate. Three hits in a row than brought home two runs to make 3:2. By then the rain had stopped and the Korean team used the last chance to win in the top of the ninth by scoring four runs and they proved to be more than enough. The Czech team came up empty handed but the fans had a chance to see a very good performance by the host nation and hope that they will more and more during the championship.
Team USA won its opener behind a strong start of Stephen Strasburg, one of the candidates for next´s year first draft pick, a 5:2 decision over Korea. Strasburg threw seven no hit innings, facing twenty two batters, one over minimum, a walk in the fifth. He struck out thirteen, threw 87 pitches, 66 of them for strike, relying mainly on his blazing fastball. When right fielder Blake Smith hit a solo homerun in the fifth, it looked like it´s all Strasburg needed but Korea came back in the eighth to tie it off reliever Kendal Volz. Team USA then errupted for four runs, two of them came via homerun off the bat of shortstop Ryan Jackson. Korea scored one in the bottom but that was it. The game was played in much nicer weather conditions than last night´s championship opener, under blue sky at the renewed Ostrava field and in front of the TV cameras for live coverage.
The Czech team played against Lithuania in front of a home crowd of thousand fans. Starter Boris Bokaj got into the early troubles by allowing two runners, the first one walked, the second one got hit by pitch. But a good defence behind him helped a lot to keep Lithuania without a run. The Czech team got on board in the bottom of the frame but that was it for another four innings, dominated by both pitchers and good defensive plays. Then in the fifth Toman got on base with a hit, followed by two out triple by so far the best hitter on Czech team, Jakub Malik, to make 2:0. Malik scored on the very next play, a single by Polansky. The host team then made the win sure by scoring another two runs in the sixth, helped by a walk and error. The Lithuanian team tried hard to get on the board but solid pitching from both Bokaj and reliever Stribrcky shut them out so the host nation earned its first win.
Team Canada started strong and was hurt by inning ending double plays in both the first and second innings of the game. Canada's Thain Simon started strong on the mound as he held Taipei scoreless through the first two innings, striking out two batters. The third inning was the main story of the game, in the top of the third inning, Chinese Taipei changed pitchers and brought in Kai-Wen Cheng, who retired Team Canada in order for the first time in the game. In the bottom half of the inning, Chinese Taipei scored five runs off Simon, while only managing one extra base hit a double in the middle of the rally.
A clash of two Asian superpowers promised to be a spectacular show to the Brno fans and it proved to be just that. It was the Japanese defence that dominated the game and did not allow its rival to score more than once. Japan scored with the lead off batter, but for the next five frames no runner had passed the second base. Japan then scrambled three hits together in the seventh to make it 2:0. Chinese Taipei came back storming in the ninth with a hit and a walk, followed by a bomb to the left field which scored one. The runner from first was gunned down to third, however and routine 6-3 groundout secured the first win for Japan.
It was only a question of how long the Lithuanian team will be able to stay alive in the afternoon game in front of some 600 spectators. Lithuania lasted for four innings, thanks to a solid pitching by Matszevicius, by that time Korea started to show its power. It was the first seven innings contest of the tournament, by a score of 11:0.
The stands in Ostrava field were packed from seats to bleachers, people all around, attendance going over 1,500. The crowd played a huge role in great baseball atmosphere. The Czech team scored right in the top of the first inning after three hits and shut the American offense in the bottom with catcher Vojak nailing two runners at second, assuring himself no steal try till the end of the game. USA tied in the second and took a lead for good in the fourth, thanks to a two run homerun by Clark. The Czech team scored a second run in the sixth to make it 5:2 but the mighty US team added three more runs for the final score of 8:2.
Team USA left Ostrava after another win, this time a batting practice session against Lithuania. The ball left the yard off the American bats record twelve times in a 30-1 slaughter with the Lithuanian team scoring in the seventh inning on an error.
While the Americans were beating the Lithuanians badly in Ostrava, Brno had witnessed a first extra innings drama of the championship. Japan tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and then won it in the eleventh. The Japanese team scored right in the beginning, thanks to two errors in the infield to make it 3-0, then added another run in the third and played great defence until the fifth, when Team Canada erupted for four runs to tie it. Canada scored another two runs in the sixth and seventh to make it 6-4 and held on till the bottom of the ninth, when Japan tied the game with two outs. Japan almost won the game in the tenth, when error put a runner on second with two outs. After an intentional walk the next batter struck out to end the threat. Canada went one, two, three in the eleventh to set the stage for Japan. Hit by pitch was followed by a single, ground out moved the runners to second and third and sacrifice fly had won it after four hours.
The game between Korea and Japan was the second "Asian" battle for the spectators at the Brno stadium. It was an interesting struggle where the winning team was decided by the higher hitting potential of the Japanese players. In the third inning the Japanese team reached second base, and this player made the first point. The fifth inning meant 4 points for the Korean team and was ended by a strikeout. The Japanese offensive attack came immediately and the answer was the same number of points for Japan, so the score was 5:4 for. Five more successful hits in the seventh inning brought 3 more points and score 8:4 for Japan. The Koreans did not manage to change it until the end of the game.
Canada came out strong and took control of the game from the first pitch as OUA veteran Adam Reynolds retired the side with the help of catcher Jeff Vickers throwing out a runner trying to steal second on the third play of the game. Canada quickly went to work offensively as they scored twice in the first and added six more in the second and never looked back as they won by 25 runs the team's largest margin of victory in the three World University Games Canada has participated in.
The Czech academic selection had been leading from the very beginning of the game. Schneider run for the first point after Malík's hit. No runs in the next three innings were seen. In defence no mistakes were made in both teams. In the fifth inning Toman made a point, but after that the inning was ended by a strikeout and the Czech Republic was leading 2:0. In the bottom of the sixth inning Chinese Taipei lowered the difference to 2:1 by an error at the second base. In the seventh inning the Czech team did not stand the pressure of its opponent. After a hit to the right outfield Taipei run for two more points. The score 3:2 for Chinese Taipei lasted until the end of the game.
The last "Asian" game at the WUBC between Korea and Chinese Taipei was promising to be a great battle. And it turned out to be. A homerun in the third inning started the lead of Chinese Taipei. No more points were allowed by Korea in that inning. In the bottom of the sixth inning the Koreans confirmed that they were not ready to lose. They made four points and reached the lead. In the eighth inning Chinese Taipei tried to attack the victory by two more points but Korea did not allow them to win and the game ended with score 4:3 for Korea.
The duel between USA and Canada was live broadcasted by the Czech TV. Canada made the first point in the fifth inning. Two more and a lead 3:0 were reached in the seventh. In the bottom of the eighth inning was "the US moment" and the Americans drew a score to 3:3. For the tie overtime was played (second time for Canada at the WUBC). This game was decided by a mistake of the Canadian pitcher in the 11th inning in favour of the USA.
A one way game, where Japan overpowered Lithuania.
The Americans started cautiously and made no points in the first inning. The Japanese offence was successful already in the first inning as they reached their first point. The first American point was made by Josh Fellhauer after a hit by Ryan Jackson in the second inning. In the same inning the Americans brought the score to 4:1, which was immediately shortened to 4:2 by the Japanese team. Although Japan reached also a 3rd point in the third inning, the Americans kept their pitcher Chris Hernandez and he confirmed the reliance of the coaches. Since this moment until the seventh inning when he was replaced he had not let the Japanese make any more points. The closer to come after him were Kyle Gibson and Kendal Volz, who were as strong as their teammate and Japan did not make any more points. The Americans made two more points in the fifth inning and two more in the seventh.
The Canadian starter and closer did not leave the hitters from the host team many chances to show their skills to their fans. In nine innings the Czech players hit only three times; the best hitter was Jakub Cernik. The Canadian lead started in the third inning, when they made two runs. In the sixth inning Scott Webster made the third point for Canada, Alex White the last one. The Czech team therefore lost 0:4.
The first hitter was Chih-Hsiang Li who thanks to his two teammates reached the third base. But the third out of the inning was the merit of Stephen Strasburg. Also the other American pitchers, Kyle Gibson and closer Kendal Volz, were an unbeatable barrier for the Taipei offence. The best Taipei hitter was definitely Chih-Hsiang Li, who hit Stephen's pitches twice and walked once. The second base of balls received Yuan-Chin Chu. But none of the players made a point. The first point for the USA was scored by Micah Gibbs in the bottom of the second inning, second by Christian Clon in the sixth inning. The final score of the American team was reached in the seventh inning and the USA defeated Chinese Taipei 3:0. The USA confirmed its status of the favourite qualifying for the gold medal game.
The Japanese players surprised the Czech team already in the first inning. Having two outs and everyone thinking the Czech team will fight off, Japan run for three points. No team at the WUBC started leading so quickly. The Czech team managed to reduce the difference by one point thanks to run by Jan Toman. The first inning was the only one when more Czech hitters got into the game. In all the next innings always just three players got the chance to hit - they were out after three strikes or before reaching the first base. Shona Oto increased the Japanese lead in the fourth inning. In the end of the game the Czech players made few mistakes and finally Japan won with 10:1 also thanks to a 3-point homerun by Takuya Tsukuura.
Team Canada knew coming into the game they needed to win the game to force a three-way tie with Chinese Taipei and Korea and then let the tournament rules decide which two teams would advance to the Medal Rounds. The Canadians receive word that the United States defeated Chinese Taipei, 3-2, in 11 innings, earlier in the afternoon, causing the potential three-way tie. Canada would need another strong start to keep their medal hopes alive, but it was Korea who had the first of two big innings in the game as they would score 4-runs in the second inning on two hits, an error and a bad bounce in the outfield that went over the left fielders head enabling three runs to score. Korea would add another run in the fifth inning on a similar play a hard hit single to left field bounced over the left fielder's head and Korea would score what would turn out to be the winning run.
In the bottom of the first inning Korean pitcher Chan Soo Yoon was not in a good shape and gave the base of balls to the first Japanese hitter. After two outs, one more base of balls and a bad throw to the Korean catcher Japan covered all bases. After hits of Takahiro Araki and Takahiro Iwamoto Japan made first two runs. The effort of the Korean team to reverse the situation was huge. Although Korea also covered all three bases, which created a big pressure to the Japanese pitcher Yuki Saito, they did not manage to make a run after a double out. After a not very good first inning Korea replaced the pitcher and Jae Guy Hwang came to the mound. Neither he was able to stop Japan to make their next run (Takuya Tsukuura). Japan - namely Hiroko Uemoto - made one more run in the sixth inning after a passed ball. Japan added even two more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning - Uemoto and Mtsumoto. Korea reduced the Japanese lead in the ninth inning after a two-base hit allowing Kyung Su Bae make the first Korean run. With this victory Japan also qualified for the gold medal game against favourite USA.
Team Canada won the 5th Place Consolation Game with strong pitching and a 3-run second inning, to finish the 2008 4th Annual World University Baseball Championships, with a 3-4 record. Mat Wilson (Bucknell-Toronto, ON) continued to pitch strong for Head Coach Terry McKaig, Wilson coming off his 8 strong innings against the United States where he allowed no earned runs and sturckout 4 US hitters, pitched five shutout innings against the Czech Republic, striking out 6, while giving up one first inning single. The Bullpen continued to impress all at the World University Championship as Adam Reynolds (Guelph-Guelph, ON), Scott Webster (UBC-Coquitlam, BC) and Kris Dabrowiecki (Northeastern-Toronto, ON) all pitched shutout relief innings, giving way to Team Canada's closer Hiarali Garcia (Kansas-Windsor, ON) who gave up a walk and hit before settling down to record Canada's first save at the tournament.
Hunter Morris (Auburn; Huntsville, Ala.) snapped a scoreless tie in the top of the 12th inning, and Kendal Volz (Baylor; Bulverde, Texas) got a game-ending ground out with the potential tying run at third base as the USA Baseball National Team defeated Japan 1-0 in Sunday's gold medal game at the FISU World Championships. It was Team USA's third consecutive FISU title. The U.S. squad completed its 2008 tour 24-0 and established a National Team record for lowest staff ERA at 0.88 (the previous mark of 1.29 was set in 2003). Team USA did not allow more than two earned runs in any game and tossed its sixth shutout of the summer in the FISU title game. "I don't think you ever think that far down the road," head coach Rob Walton (Oral Roberts) said when asked if a perfect season was imaginable at the beginning of the tour. "We just tried to build chemistry and get guys in the right spots to be successful. Our assistant coaches deserve a lot of credit for this, as does National Team general manager Eric Campbell for helping us put together this team." Morris, who made the team following his true-freshman season, had the game-winning hit in two of Team USA's final three victories. (He had a walk-off home run against Chinese Taipei in the final pool-play game on Thursday.) "Look at what Morris did these last few games," Campbell said. "He hasn't gotten too many at bats since Jared Clark joined this team; he had mostly been shaking hands in the dugout. But he got the game-winning RBI in two of our last three games. I'm so happy that Hunter was the guy. It means even more when you consider the circumstances that allowed him to be on this team." Tommy Mendonca (Fresno State; Turlock, Calif.) led off the 12th with a single down the left-field line, and Ryan Jackson (U of Miami; Miami Springs, Fla.) pushed him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Stephen Strasburg (USA)After Micah Gibbs (LSU; Pflugerville, Texas) was intentionally walked, Matt den Dekker singled through the right side. But Japan right fielder Keijiro Matsumoto threw a strike to catcher Shota Ono, who held onto the ball after a collision with Mendonca. Morris followed with a pinch-hit, broken-bat single to shallow center. Gibbs scored easily from second on the play, giving Team USA a 1-0 lead. "It was such a great feeling when I saw that ball drop because I knew Gibbs was going to score," Morris said. "With Kendal coming into the game and the way our pitching has been all summer, I knew it would be enough." The game was far from over, though. Pinch hitter Kyohei Iwasaki led off the bottom of the inning with a seeing-eye single to the hole at shortstop. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and then stole third. However, Volz was too much for Japan as he struck out the next batter and got a ground out to end the game. Shortstop Christian Colon (Cal State Fullerton; Corona, Calif.) scooped the grounder and threw to first baseman Jared Clark (Cal State-Fullerton; Castaic, Calif.) for the game's final out. That made a winner of Kyle Gibson (Missouri; Greenfield, Ind.) who pitched a perfect 11th with one strikeout. Starter Mike Minor (Vanderbilt; Chapel Hill, Tenn.) lasted 9 2/3 innings and held Japan scoreless on four hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. Volz finished the tour with eight saves in eight opportunities. Both teams had chances to score before the 12th. Team USA had 10 hits on the night but grounded into three double plays, had one player picked off at first base and had two runners thrown out at home. Japan managed only four hits on the night, and the first two were erased when the hitter turned runner was caught stealing. Minor faced the minimum through the first nine innings and retired the first two batters he faced in the 10th. However, consecutive singles and a U.S. fielding error put runners on the corners. Tyler Lyons (Oklahoma State; Lubbock, Texas) spelled Minor and got a ground-ball fielder's choice to escape the jam. "The key to this team was the pitching, and even more so the bullpen," Walton said. "Guys like Lyons and Gibson and Volz, who are all starters in their own programs, accepting roles in the bullpen was big. Their doing that probably was the biggest key of the summer." Team USA's bullpen posted a 0.87 ERA for the tour, allowing only 13 runs (eight earned) in 84 innings with a .165 opponents' batting average. Mendonca was 4-for-4 at the plate and was hit by a pitch, while Gibbs was 3-for-4. "This team's record speaks for itself," Campbell said. "Every year is special, but I don't know how we'll be able to top what this team did. They finished 24-0, they beat Cuba's best team twice, they beat Japan three times, and they won two gold medals. It speaks volumes for college baseball, not just in the U.S. but around the world. This team beat a lot of good teams this summer, and four or five of the teams here at FISU easily could have won this event."
CZE vs. KOR
TPE vs. CAN
TPE vs. JPN
JPN vs. CAN
KOR vs. JPN
LTU vs. CAN
USA vs. CAN
JPN vs. USA
Bronze medal game TPE vs. KOR
Male Athletes: 148
Female Athletes: 0
Total Participants: 205
1. Gold - USA
2. Silver - Japan
3. Bronze - Chinese Taipei
6. Czech Republic