Team USA rallied from an early two-run deficit on the strength of Zack Segovia's pitching and Brandon Wood's timely hitting and surged past Nicaragua, 5-2, on Saturday night at the 2006 Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in San Jose, Cuba.
The victory left the United States one win from clinching a spot in the baseball competition at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The United States failed to qualify for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens after winning the gold medal under manager Tommy Lasorda in 2000 in Sydney.
Segovia, a pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies system, settled down after allowing a run in each of the first two innings. He retired 12 consecutive batters until Henry Roa singled in the sixth.
The 23-year-old right-hander escaped further trouble and left the game, trailing, 2-1.
Wood, one of baseball's top positional prospects, made Segovia a winner by blasting a 1-0 pitch from starter Franklyn Sanchez over the left-field fence for a three-run homer. It followed a walk to Billy Butler and a single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Team USA never looked back as Wood broke out of a tournament-long 2-for-25 slump.
J. Brent Cox replaced Segovia in the seventh and tossed a pair of scoreless innings before giving way to Henry Owens, who pitched the ninth for his second save of the tournament.
Wood got Team USA on the board in the third when he drew a leadoff walk and came around on Skip Schumaker's RBI single. Catcher Kurt Suzuki iced the victory when he singled home Bryan LaHair with two outs in the eighth.
Team USA will play Panama on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET at Nelson Fernandez Stadium.
Panama has lost consecutive games to Canada and Venezuela in the second round after posting a 4-1 mark in pool play. The Panamanians' only loss in pool play was to Cuba, when they squandered a three-run lead and fell, 7-6.
NOTES: Mike Kinkade was the lone U.S. starter without a hit. ... Michael Bourn stole a base, just the second by Team USA in the tournament. He was 45-for-50 in stolen base attempts between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. ... Saturday was the first tournament game in which Schumaker did not score a run. ... Team USA has drawn 48 walks. ... American pitchers have a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 54-15. ... Cuba (7-0) remains the lone unbeaten team after defeating Canada, 9-0, on Saturday. ... Cuban pitchers have a combined ERA under 1.50 heading into Sunday's matchup with Mexico (6-1). ... Cuban hurler Adiel Palma Lopez has 23 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.