Nick Hill pitches USA to quarterfinals
Team USA celebrates. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Team USA celebrates. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

Posted Aug 12, 2006


HAVANA, Cuba ­­- Zack Cozart’s (Ole Miss) grand slam homer in the second inning and starting pitcher Nick Hill’s (Army) one-hit effort on the mound combined to lead the USA Baseball National Team to a 12-1 seven inning run-rule win over Chinese Taipei in the FISU World University Championships Friday night at Latino Stadium.

The National Team (25-2-1) captured first place in Pool B with a 5-0 record, while Chinese Taipei finished pool action in second with a 4-1 ledger.

Nick Hill held Chinese Taipei hitless through the first 4.1 innings before giving up a hit to third baseman Yang Hsien Hsien in the fifth. That was the lone hit he gave up in five innings of work as he allowed one unearned run with three strikeouts and a walk to move to 4-0 on the year.

Cozart’s grand slam in the second, his first homer in 24 games this summer, staked the USA to a 4-0 lead in the second. Darwin Barney (Oregon State) doubled to left-center with one out and then advanced to third on a base hit by Sean Doolittle (Virginia). Taipei recorded the second out in the inning before Preston Clark (Texas) was hit to load the bases for Cozart who lined the first pitch offering into the seats in left field.

Taipei got on the board in the third when Hsien walked and then moved to third on a fielding and throwing error on a bunt by Nick Hill. Sheng Wei Wang then brought Hsien home with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.

The US plated four more runs in the fourth to push the lead to 8-1. Doolittle and Todd Frazier had back to back singles, before Clark came through with a RBI single to right-center. Cozart then laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to bring Frazier home from third to make it 6-1. Julio Borbon (Tennessee) notched a base hit through the right side and Jemile Weeks (Miami) walked with the bases loaded to bring in Clark. Pedro Alvarez (Vanderbilt) had a RBI groundout to score Cozart and close out the scoring in the frame.

The National Team put together its third four run inning of the game in the fifth, with all four runs coming via the long ball. Darwin Barney led off the stanza with a solo homer down the leftfield line, his first of the summer, to make it 9-1. After a Todd Frazier walk, Preston Clark hit a two-run shot to left, his second of the season, to make it 11-1. Julio Borbon capped it all off with a line drive homer to right, his third of the summer.

The bottom five of the order came through in a big way, with eight of the team’s 11 hits and nine RBI produced due to their efforts. Cozart had five RBI and Clark had three RBI from the bottom two spots in the lineup.

Darwin Barney led the US with three hits on the night and was a triple short of hitting for the cycle.

Cole St. Clair (Rice) threw a perfect sixth and David Price (Vanderbilt) and Daniel Moskos (Clemson) combined to close it out in the seventh.

The US will have Saturday off before taking on Nicaragua in the quarterfinals on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT at Fernandez Stadium.


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