Team USA Pounds Guatemala

Olympic qualifying got underway in Arizona on Tuesday and Team USA wasted no time making a statement. USA opened with a 23-0 blasting of Guatemala, limiting their opponents to just one hit. Not all was bright though; Shane Victorino was the only Team USA member not to collect a hit, going 0-for-7.

Phoenix, AZ – Brad Snyder, Bryan LaHair and Brandon Wood each connected for home runs and the American lineup slugged 26 hits as Team USA (1-0) opened the 2005 CONCEBE Regional Olympic Qualifying Tournament with a convincing 23-0 victory over Guatemala (0-1). The game was shortened to seven innings due to the International IBAF 10-run mercy rule.

American starter Chris Lambert (Cardinals/Manchester, NH) worked 5.0 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while fanning nine, to notch the victory. He combined with reliever Nick Ungs (Marlins/Dyersville, IA) on the one-hit shutout, as Ungs twirled the final two frames.

"It was a real team effort, and a great way to start this tournament," said Team USA manager Davey Johnson. "We sure swung the bats well, got some good pitching from Lambert. I was really impressed with the way he threw strikes and went after their hitters."

The United States wasted little time in grabbing an early lead, as they tagged Guatemalan starting pitcher Rodrigo Ibarra (0-1) for three runs in the top of the first inning, even before an out was recorded.

After leadoff man Shane Victorino (Phillies/Las Vegas, NV) was hit by a pitch, Howie Kendrick (Angels/Callahan, FL) tripled into the right-centerfield gap to bring home Victorino with the game's first run. Snyder (Indians/Bellevue, OH) then connected on the first offering he saw, and sent it over the wall for a two-run homer. Jeff Mathis (Angels/Marianna, FL) later added a run-scoring single in the frame for a 4-0 advantage.

In the third, LaHair (Mariners/Worchester, MA) led off with a solo shot, and Travis Hanson (Cardinals/Port Orchard, WA) later scored on a double by Mathis to make it 6-0. Kendrick scored on a base hit by Snyder in the fourth, as Ibarra was relieved by righty Gustavo Rehwoldt. The Americans would then go on to overpower three Guatemalan relief pitchers the rest of the afternoon, scoring in every inning of the game except the second.

"Every game is important in this event, and we're on a mission to get the United States back into the Olympic Games," said LaHair. "This was a terrific first step towards that goal."

Wood (Angels/ Scottsdale, AZ) had four RBI, while Mathis, Kendrick, Snyder, and Victorino each drove in three runs apiece. Ryan Shealy (Rockies/Ft. Lauderdale, FL) went 4-for-6 with three runs scored, and Hanson scored three times as well.

Team USA (1-0) next faces Mexico (0-1) – the country that eliminated the United States from the 2003 Olympic Qualifier in Panama – Wednesday at 1:00 pm MT at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Jered Weaver (Angels/Simi Valley, CA) gets the ball for the Americans.

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