Bill Kinneberg and the USA National Team wrap up play at the World Port Tournament this week.
Aug. 8, 2007
University of Utah baseball head coach Bill Kinneberg is traveling with the USA National Baseball team, serving on its coaching staff as the assistant coach. UtahUtes.com continues its summer-long Q&A with coach Kinneberg, documenting his experiences with and against the elite ball players of the world.
Q: The World Port Tournament is a double round-robin tournament. Having played everyone the first time around, what are your impressions of the opponents?
A: The Cuban team went through the first round of play without a problem. Our first game against Japan (a 1-0 USA victory) was a great pitchers' duel, and then our offense poured it on against the Dutch team (an 11-0 USA win).
We slipped against the Taiwanese (a 10-5 loss), but they are a much-improved team from when we saw them earlier this summer (USA played them from June 29-July 3 and won four out five games).
I thought that we played a nice game against Cuba until the seventh inning where we gave up a five-spot. Scott Grogan threw a great game and threw six innings of solid ball but we just couldn't hold on. The Cubans are a good ball club. They're balanced, have power, speed and youth. That team is the class of the tournament and we hope to get a shot at them in the championship on Sunday.
Q: After losing back-to-back games against Taiwan and Cuba, how key was it for you guys to come back and beat Japan?
A: Well, the next two games of the tournament are must-win for us. If we want to play in the championship game, we need to beat Taiwan and the Netherlands in addition to getting some help from some of the other teams. Then, we have Cuba on Saturday. So, it's key that we go into each game from here on out and take care of business.
It'll also help us out if Taiwan loses to either Japan or the Netherlands. That will vault us into the finals. (Note: The top two teams make it to the finals, set for Aug. 12. There are numerous tie-breaker situations in the event that teams finish with identical records).
Q: You had the second of your two off days on Wednesday. What was the on the docket for the team?
A: We got the chance to be tourists today. A lot of the players headed to the beach while the coaching staff did a tour of Amsterdam and saw some other places. It was a nice off day. We got the chance to enjoy ourselves and experience the Netherlands.
Q: What are the keys for Team USA as you head into the second round of play?
A: We're pretty beat up right now. Pedro Alverez, Logan Forsythe and Jordy Mercer are hurting right now so the key for us is to remain healthy. This is also the second time around for our pitchers. So, we're hoping that they go out and pitch a good seven innings for us in their last outing of the summer. We have Ryan Berry slated to pitch against Chinese Taipei and then Tyson Ross set to pitch against the Netherlands.
As far as the Cuba game goes, we want to survive through the rest of the week and hopefully we'll be able to face them in the championship game.
Q: The last few games have been a tad explosive on the offensive side of things. Were you expecting a lot of offense in this tournament or were you figuring on a pitchers' tourney?
A: On the first day of the tournament (Aug. 2), there were only three runs scored in two games. So, we thought that it was a pitchers' park after that. But, since then, the wind has picked up and the pitchers are showing some wear, so the offensive numbers have started going up. To go along with that, the teams are better here so there are going to be more runs scored at this tournament than we've seen before.
Q: This is the first time the USA has played in the World Port Tournament in its 11-year history. What are you impressions of it thus far?
A: This is a great tournament. The Dutch have done a great job with it and I believe they host a similar softball tournament next year. But, it is a well-attended tournament, all of the games are on television and it's just a nice ballpark here.
This has been a great experience and the Dutch are great hosts. It's been a lot of fun for the players to play in and just an all-around good experience for everyone.
Note: The USA National team (24-10 overall) wraps up its summer-long tour this week at the World Port Tournament. USA is 3-2 after the first round of the double round-robin tournament. The team plays the Netherlands (Aug. 9), Taiwan (Aug. 10) and then Cuba (Aug. 11) yet this week. The championship game is on Aug. 12 and it will pit the top two teams from the tournament against one another. Cuba currently is the top team, undefeated after the first round of play.