In a fitting end to a hard-fought series, Monday’s finale between the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and Japan took extra innings to decide with Japan claiming a 4-3 win in the 11th at SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves.
The U.S. clinched the series victory on Sunday with a 7-6 win in Macon, Ga. It also won games July 3-5.
“Japan was just so impressive all series with the quality of their defense and their pitching," said Team USA coach Paul Mainieri. "They just never gave in, never gave you a good pitch to hit, and they all had good stuff. We had 15 hits today, but we left a small army on base, a lot of which were in scoring position."
After Monday’s contest, USA Baseball announced the series award winners. Josh Jung (Texas Tech) took home Batting Champion honors, Japan’s Wataru Matsumoto claimed Most Outstanding Pitcher and Adley Rutschman (Oregon State) was named Most Valuable Player.
Proof of the tightness of the series, the U.S. outscored Japan 14-12 in the five-game set with only one game being decided by more than a single run.
Team USA heads to Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday, when it will open a five-game series at Estadio Latinoamericano in a series to run July 10-14. The first four games are scheduled to start at 6:15 p.m. and the series finale will be played at 9 a.m.