#KUinTAIWAN: USA succumbs to pressure of tiebreaker

CHIAYI CITY, Taiwan – Late miscues in extra-innings plagued the Kansas baseball team (USA Team) in a 12-inning affair against the hometown team Chinese Taipei, 8-7, Tuesday afternoon (Taiwan time) at Chiayi City Baseball Field in super round action.
USA (2-2) committed three errors in those final three frames and added in two baserunning blunders in the top of the 12th, to allow Chinese Taipei (4-0) to walk-it-off on a hit-by-pitch.
“It was a tremendous game for nine innings,” head coach Ritch Price said. “It was as well played as both teams could have asked for. Then we get into extra innings and it’s our first time ever playing with the international tiebreaker. You can see our guys panic on the international stage with that extra amount of pressure.”
That pressure Price is referring to is the international tiebreaker itself. During extra innings of international play, a tiebreaker, known as the international tiebreaker, is utilized to help speed up the determination of a winner. The rule calls for runners to be put on first and second with no outs to start each inning of bonus baseball.
The usual protocol for the hitting team in that situation is to lay down a sacrifice bunt and advance the runners to second and third with one out.
USA did just that in the top of the 10th and forced Chinese Taipei to commit a throwing error, its first and only of the game, but mustered to score only two runs after having runners at second and third, and no outs with a one-run lead.
In the bottom half, USA threw the ball away on the Chinese Taipei bunt attempt and the squad wound up plating a pair of runs to push it to the 11th.
USA answered the call again in the 11th scoring another pair of runs, but an airmailed throw by senior-to-be center fielder Rudy Karre allowed Chinese Taipei to knot it back up in the home half.
The 12th frame then showed Karre get thrown out at third with no outs trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. On the next play, junior-to-be second baseman James Cosentino got thrown out at home on a single to the outfield by junior-to-be designated hitter Jaxx Groshans.
“There were some really uncharacteristic mistakes by our guys,” Price said. “It set the table for (Chinese Taipei) to win. We had the game won twice, but got in our own way. It is a great learning experience for our guys. To get on this stage and play for something as important as a gold medal – I just wish we would have handled it better.”
Chinese Taipei then walked it off in the bottom of the 12th after loading the bases on a bunt that junior-to-be reliever Ryan Cyr let go in hopes it would roll foul. The next hitter wore a pitch that bounced in the dirt to end the game.
Bottom of 1st
Chinese Taipei tagged USA junior-to-be starter Ryan Zeferjahn for two runs – TPE 2, USA 0.
Top of 2nd
USA gets a run back thanks to hits by sophomores-to-be third baseman Skyler Messinger and first baseman Tom Lichty – TPE 2, USA 1.
Bottom of 3rd
Chinese Taipei added a run after a pair of hits in the frame – TPE 3, USA 1.
Top of 5th
Senior-to-be center fielder Rudy Karre doubles and junior-to-be designated hitter Jaxx Groshans singles to score a USA run – TPE 3, USA 2.
Top of 6th
Sophomore-to-be catcher Nolan Metcalf executes a safety-squeeze to perfection to knot the game up – USA 3, TPE 3.
Bottom of 8th
Karre makes a game-saving catch in center field to keep the score tied – USA 3, TPE 3.
Top of 10th
USA scores two runs with no outs, but can’t plate any more after junior-to-be left fielder Brett Vosik got picked off third for the first out of the frame – USA 5, TPE 3.
Bottom of 10th
A throwing error by junior-to-be reliver Ryan Cyr allows two Chinese Taipei runs to score in the inning – USA 5, TPE 5.
Top of 11th
USA scores another two runs – USA 7, TPE 5.
Bottom of 11th
Karre makes a great catch for the second out of the frame with the tying run at third, but airmails a throw on a fake tag attempt by the Chinese Taipei runner to allow the game to be tied back up – USA 7, TPE 7.
Top of 12th
Karre gets thrown out at third for the first out of the inning on a ball in the dirt, before junior-to-be second baseman James Cosentino got thrown out at the dish on a Groshans single – USA 7, TPE 7.
Bottom of 12th
Chinese Taipei loads the bases with no outs after Cyr allows the bunt attempt to roll past him in hopes it would go foul. The next hitter wore a pitch that bounced in the dirt to walk-it-off – TPE 8, USA 7.
USA will get two days off before continue super round action against Korea on Friday, July 13, at 3 a.m. (CT). Following that game, the top four teams will be seeded into medal games, with the first- and second- ranked teams playing for gold and silver, and the third- and fourth-ranked teams playing for bronze. Fans can watch the action live at YouTube.com/SSUTV.

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