Team USA blasts Taiwan, 11-1


BOWIE -- After waiting out an hourlong rain delay, the fans quickly began the "USA" chant. Some furiously waved American flags, while others tucked them in the back of their caps.

But the patriotic flair soon subsided as Team USA's offensive barrage grabbed the crowd's attention and put the game away early. Taking advantage of erratic pitching and poor fielding by Taiwan, Team USA stretched its longest winning streak of the season to seven games, downing the 1992 silver medalist, 11-1, before 3,270 at Prince George's County Stadium.

Team USA (22-6) plays Taiwan again today at noon at the same site.

"Their pitching is just like the teams we have played before, like Korea and Japan, with a lot of split-finger stuff and fastballs," Team USA right fielder Brian Shackelford said. "They didn't pitch around us and gave us some good balls to hit. Let's just say they let a few over the plate."

In two games against Taiwan, Team USA has racked up 22 runs and 30 hits, including 13 last night. Team USA scored runs in each of the first four innings on the strength of five extra-base hits, two throwing errors and two wild pitches.

"I think we are hitting the ball better the past two weeks than we had in the first five," Team USA manager Skip Bertman said. "We have been getting about nine or 10 hits a game, but seeing us tonight you would think we're a home run-hitting team. And we're not."

Team USA established its single-game high for home runs on the tour by hitting four, including two by Shackelford. It was the first multi-homer game by a U.S. player on the tour, and Shackelford and catcher Brian Loyd combined for the U.S. team's first back-to-back homers of the season.

Earlier this season, the squad had two stretches of 200 at-bats without a homer. But Team USA is in a strong offensive groove recently. It has produced at least five runs and 10 hits in six of its past seven games.

It also didn't help Taiwan to face Team USA's earned-run-average leader, R. A. Dickey (2-1). A sophomore right-hander from Tennessee, Dickey retired 11 of the last 13 batters he faced, and shut down Taiwan on just two hits in six innings.

He didn't allow a hit or a ball out of the infield after the second inning. No Taiwanese base runner even made it past first base against Dickey.

Dickey dominated by continually hitting both edges of the plate against Taiwan, which had eight players in its lineup bat from the right side in an upright stance close to the plate.

"To tell the truth, it is a little bit of an advantage," Dickey said. "They are all the same prototype of a hitter and you can pitch them all about the same. But you still have to throw strikes."

Team USA, which scored 13 runs in Dickey's last start, gave him another big cushion by the third inning. In that inning, Team USA sent 10 players to the plate and scored four runs to push the lead to 7-0.

With a runner on first, Jacque Jones hit an RBI double to the left-field wall. Jones then moved to third on a throwing error by Chen Jui-Cheng on the relay from left field.

Travis Lee doubled Jones home, and went to third base as pitcher Lui Yu-Chan's pickoff throw sailed into center field. Lee scored three pitches later on Yu-Chan's wild pitch.

Later that inning, Troy Glaus also scored on a wild pitch by Yu-Chan.

Team USA also found a way to shine defensively. After committing four errors, Team USA escaped the seventh inning on a triple play as second baseman Tom Sergio caught a line drive and the runners at second and first were forced out.

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