Third baseman Phil Nevin hit two home runs, including a grand slam in the first inning, to power the U.S. Olympic baseball team to a 10-4 win over the Korean National team yesterday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Nevin's grand slam was part of an eight-run first inning for the U.S. team, which had lost three of its last four games, including two straight against Cuba.
Nevin, the No. 1 pick in the recent major-league draft selected by the Houston Astros, also had a home run in the fourth inning.
Both home runs came off high and away fastballs, the first 413 feet to the alley in right-center field.
"Today I was seeing the ball real well, like beach balls," said Nevin, a right-handed-hitting junior from Cal State Fullerton. "Everybody pitches me like that, and today I caught the pitches I was looking for.
"Their pitcher wasn't wild, except in the strike zone," Nevin said. "We needed a game like this to get back on track. The Korean team isn't Cuba, but they can play."
The win gave the United States a 2-1 edge in the series, with two games remaining. The United States will play Korea tonight in Charlotte, N.C., and tomorrow in Richmond, Va.
The U.S. team has a 14-9 record on its national tour with seven games left in 11 days before it travels to Barcelona, Spain.
"We're moving in the right direction," said winning pitcher B.J. Wallace, who gave up five hits in six innings and improved his record to 2-2. "I thought it was important for us to jump on this team early. I had some problems in the first inning, but worked it out."
Wallace's problem started three pitches into the game. That's when Korean leadoff hitter and shortstop Ji-Hyum Ryu hit a 364-foot home run into the alley in left-center field for a 1-0 lead.
But it didn't take long for the United States to figure out Korean left-hander Myung-Ju Cha. The United States' Calvin Murray singled to lead off the bottom of the first inning, and Jason Giambi moved him to second with another base hit. Center fielder Jeffrey Hammonds, the Orioles' top pick, advanced both runners with a sacrifice fly, and Michael Tucker walked to load the bases for Nevin.
The U.S. team added three runs in the inning, one on a single by Nomar Garciaparra, and two on an error by Ryu on a grounder.
Hammonds went 2-for-4, with two singles and two stolen bases.