July 30, 1997
Milano Leads the USA Baseball Team to Barcelona
The 1997 USA Baseball National Team, led by California head coach Bob Milano, is currently 17-8 this summer. Team USA's competition schedule will culminate at the International Baseball Association's XIII International Cup scheduled for August 1-10 in Barcelona, Spain. The tournament will feature the top four finishers from the 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games: Cuba (gold medal), Japan (silver), United States (bronze) and Nicaragua (fourth place). Australia, France, Italy and Spain will round out the eight-team field.
"After competing together all summer, the team has developed to the point where we can expect positive results in Barcelona," said Milano. "The competition will be tough, but bringing home a medal is certainly an attainable goal."
The 22-man USA squad will begin competition Friday, Aug. 1, when it faces Japan at 4 p.m. local (Spain) time. The Americans will then play Italy, Aug. 2 at 4:30 p.m.; Nicaragua, Aug. 3 at 11 a.m.; Cuba, Aug. 4 at 9 p.m.; Australia, Aug. 5 at 4:30 p.m.; Spain, Aug. 6 at 11 a.m. and France, Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. Team USA will have a day off Aug. 8 before entering the medal rounds Aug. 9-10.
Two current Cal baseball players, sophomore shortstop Brian Oliver and sophomore catcher Jason Hill, are both on the USA National Team's 22-man travel roster and are playing well for USA Baseball this summer.
Oliver, a first team All-Pac-10 selection this spring, is third on the USA National Team with a .386 batting average (27-for-70). He has started 18 of the team's 25 contests at second base, and has five doubles, a home run and eight RBI. Earlier this summer during the 26th annual USA-Japan Collegiate Championship series (June 21-28), Oliver was named Hitter of the Tournament, batting .500 (10-for-20).
Hill has had some big games for the Americans this summer. On July 24, he delivered a run-scoring groundout in the top of the 10th inning to lead the United States to the 6-5 extra-inning win over Australia. It was the second day in a row Hill had heroics, as he had a phenomenal game in a July 23 victory over Australia, hitting two home runs in an eight-run fifth inning and leading the Americans to the 11-6 come-from-behind win. With Team USA trailing 5-2 in the fifth, the Cal catcher led off the inning with an opposite field homer to cut the Australian lead to two runs. Later in the inning, Hill delivered his second home run, a three-run blast to right-centerfield to give the United States a 10-5 lead.
Hill had Team USA's first hit of the July 23 ballgame, a sharp single to left field in the third inning, and scored the Americans' first run. He finished the contest 4-for-4 with five RBI and three runs scored.
Hill has started 12 games for Team USA behind the plate and is batting .341 (15-for-44) with three doubles, two home runs and 17 RBI.