by Mike Potter
Duke's Marcus Stroman shut the door for Team USA once again, picking up his second save in three games in a 4-3 win over Japan on Tuesday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The victory was the USA’s third in as many games and the clincher in the 38th annual best-of-5 Collegiate Friendship Series, setting off a lengthy celebration between the players and the full house on hand to see the city’s rain-postponed Independence Day fireworks show.
The teams had been scheduled to play Monday night, but when that game was postponed by heavy rains a day-night doubleheader was set for Tuesday.
The USA had won the early game in Cary 8-2.
Japan had taken a 3-1 lead in the night game with a three-run rally in the seventh.
But the hosts answered with three in the bottom of the frame. Florida’s Brian Johnson kick-started the rally with a leadoff homer, followed by a bunt single from Cal State Fullerton’s Michael Lorenzen. Texas A&M’s Tyler Paquin hit a two-out double to score Lorenzen, followed by the game-winning single from Arkansas’ Dominic Ficociello.
Texas’ Hoby Milner was the winning pitcher, while Yusuke Nomura took the loss.
The teams will play again Wednesday night in Kannapolis before playing Team USA’s season finale in Omaha.