The USA Softball Junior Men’s Fastpitch National Team extended their run-rule streak to three straight at the International Softball Federation (ISF) IX Junior Men’s World Championships on Sunday by defeating India 9-1 in six innings the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. Jake Rutt (Ephrata, Pa.) led the way going two-for-three with three RBI and two home runs. Brent Meshke (Lake Crystal, Minn.) started the game in the circle for Team USA but pitched just two and two-thirds innings before Jerlin Rutt (Bernville, Pa.) entered in the third. Rutt struck out eight batters in 3.1 innings to get the win.
“We struggled in some areas tonight,” said USA Head Coach Tim Lyon. “We hit a lot of pop ups early in the game. We’re going to have to drive the ball to put runs on the scoreboard as the tournament progresses.”
USA managed just one run in the first inning. Tyler Johnson (Union, Mo.) led off the game with a double and three batters later, from the four hole, Jerlin Rutt hit a sacrifice fly to center field that was deep enough to score Johnson from third. A Jake Rutt fly ball to second base in the next at-bat ended the inning with the USA leading 1-0.
India managed hits from their first two batters in the second inning but followed it with three consecutive outs to preserve the one-run lead for the Americans.
Junior Centeno (Salem, Utah) led off the bottom of the second inning with a fly out to center field but the next two USA batters reached base on walks. With runners on base, Austin Tuttle (Payson, Utah) grounded to second for the out. With two down, Johnson got his second hit of the game, this time a triple that scored two and gave the USA a 3-0 advantage.
Meshka began the third inning by sandwiching a walk with two strikeouts but followed it up by giving up a single and a triple that gave India life. With two outs in the inning, Jerlin Rutt entered the game to relieve Meshke in the circle. Rutt struck out his first batter ending the India rally and sending the Americans back to the dugout.
In the bottom of the third, Mauro Olivarria (San Diego, Calif.) singled to lead off. Two batters later, with a 1-1 count, Jake Rutt connected on a strike sending the ball sailing over the left field fence to regain the three-run lead for the Americans.
Jerlin Rutt gave up his first hit of the game to start the fourth inning but two strikeouts and a ground out to first kept India off the board in the inning. On the offensive side, USA was held to their first scoreless inning of the game and after four the score remained USA 5, India 2.
India started the fifth inning with two hits but again could not capitalize as Jerlin Rutt retired the next three batters stranding runners at second and third base.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Jake Rutt entered the batter’s box for the first time since his third inning homer had last put runs on the board for Team USA. Looking to match his first effort, Rutt swung on a 1-2 fastball and connected with a home run that was gone as soon as it hit the bat. USA picked up two more runs in the inning and led 8-2 after five.
Jerlin Rutt held the India batters in check in the top of the sixth inning as he struck out the side.
In the bottom of the sixth, Johnson led off the USA at-bat for the third time in the game. Up by six runs, the USA needed just one more to secure the run-rule win. Johnson only needed one pitch as he blasted the third USA home run of the day over the center field wall and gave the USA Junior Men the 9-2 win.
“I just went to the plate looking to make solid contact,” said Johnson. “He gave me a good first pitch and I connected on it. It felt really good coming off the bat.”
The USA Junior Men will look to extend their record when they return to action for their fourth pool-play game at the ISF IX Junior Men’s World Championships on Monday, November 5. They will face Venezuela (1-2) at 3:00 p.m. (CT). Please visit www.USAsoftball.com to follow live stats and see photos from all of USA’s games at the ISF World Championship.