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July 14, 2014

Mathias Goes 0-for-3 With a Walk; Team USA Defeats Chinese Taipei

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Cal Poly junior-to-be Mark Mathias went hitless for only the fourth time in 18 games this summer, but drew a walk as Team USA shut out Chinese Taipei 4-0 in its third game during Honkbal Week at Pim Mulier Stadium in Haarlem, the Netherlands, on Monday.

The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team fired its second straight shutout and seventh of the summer. The U.S. pitching staff has allowed one run in three games during Honkbal Week, falling 1-0 to Japan on Friday and defeating the Netherlands 3-0 on Saturday.

Louisville right-hander Kyle Funkhouser, Andrew Moore (Oregon State) and A.J. Minter (Texas A&M) combined to limit Chinese Taipei to six hits just two days after four U.S. pitchers posted a no-hitter over the Netherlands.
 
Through the first three games of Honkbal Week, Team USA has allowed just one run on 10 hits and has worked 21.1 scoreless frames since giving up that single tally, which came with two outs in the sixth inning against Japan on Friday.
 
Through 18 games this summer, the U.S. staff has recorded seven shutouts and has a team ERA of 1.47. In 158.2 innings, it has struck out 172 batters while walking just 53 and is holding opposing batters to a .155 average.

Offensively on Monday, Nick Banks (Texas A&M) paced Team USA with a pair of RBI singles while Christin Stewart (Tennessee) recorded the squad's first two extra-base hits during Honkbal Week with two doubles. Alex Bregman (LSU) added a 2-for-3 effort with a pair of stolen bases.  

Hitting third and playing first base, Mathias grounded out to third base in the first inning, flied out to center field in the third frame, walked with two outs in the fifth and grounded to shortstop for a force play in the seventh.

USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team, which last week won a three-game International Friendship Series against Japan, improved to 13-3-2 with Saturday's win and 2-1 in Honkbal Week.

The Collegiate National Team will begin the second half of the double round-robin portion of the Haarlem-Honkbal Week tournament on Tuesday against Japan, with Cal State Fullerton right-hander Justin Garza set to get the start on the mound for Team USA.

Mathias, 1-for-9 during Honkbal Week, has hit safely in 14 of Team USA's 18 games this summer and has reached base in all 18 contests.

Mathias finished the Japan series 3-for-10 with six RBI and went 5-for-17 in the five-game series against Chinese Taipei, which Team USA won with a 3-0-2 record. Mathias is 21-for-60 (.350) in 18 games for Team USA this summer with seven doubles, one home run, nine RBI, 13 runs scored, six stolen bases and three sacrifice bunts. He is one of just two Team USA players to start all 18 games (Bregman is the other).

Prior to the series against Chinese Taipei, Mathias went 12-for-26 (.462) at the plate during Team USA's seven-game Red, White and Blue training camp series with four doubles, one RBI, nine runs scored and four stolen bases in four attempts. He had a trio of multi-hit games, including two three-hit contests, and had at least one hit in each of the seven games.

Mathias, the second Mustang and fourth in the last six seasons invited to compete for a spot on Team USA -- southpaw Matt Imhof pitched for the Collegiate National Team last summer -- played second base at Cal Poly this season, helping the Mustangs to their first Big West title and third NCAA regional berth.

Last month, Mathias (6-0, 185, Fremont, Calif./Irvington HS) earned third-team All-American honors as well as first-team All-West Region honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association. He also landed on the Baseball America second team and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's third team.

Named Big West Conference Field Player of the Year in late May, Mathias hit a Big West-leading .386 with 14 doubles, one triple and a pair of home runs. He knocked in 39 runs, led the Mustangs in hits with 81 as well as with 12 steals in 16 attempts and earned All-San Luis Obispo Regional honors by going 7-for-14 with three RBIs in four games.

Mathias, who had 17- and 14-game hitting streaks during the season, hit safely in 44 of his last 48 games and led the team with 24 multiple-hit contests. He went 77-for-185 (.416) during his last 48 games, struck out just 18 times in 250 plate appearances for the season and earned the team's Monty Waltz Big Stick Award.

A year ago, Imhof struck out 18 batters in 17 innings during his six mound stints with Team USA. Imhof allowed 10 hits and five walks, limiting opposing batters to a .175 average. He started one game and was a relief pitcher in five others.

Second baseman Matt Jensen was invited in both 2009 and 2010. An injury forced him to miss the tryouts in 2009 and he was released from the 2010 squad following the final day of training camp though he hit a grand slam in the final game of a six-game intrasquad series. Shortstop Ozzie Smith made the roster of the 1976 Team USA while pitcher Mike Zirelli (1997), infielder Jon Macalutas (1995) and catcher John Orton (1986) did not make the squad.

The 2014 Collegiate National Team is coached by Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn. The team's assistant coaches include Rob Childress (head coach at Texas A&M), Ray Birmingham (head coach at New Mexico) and Steve Rodriguez (head coach at Pepperdine).

Following its trip to the Netherlands for Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week, Team USA will head to Cuba for a five-game friendship series July 23-27.