Saturday marked the first of five pool play games for the U.S. as it took its first step toward attempting to qualify for the 2011 Pan American Games.
U.S. starter and Braves farmhand Todd Redmond (1-0) picked up where he left off as an ace with the gold medal-winning 2009 World Cup Team, allowing three runs -- two earned -- while striking out four over 5 2/3 innings. Tim Collins (Royals) and Justin De Fratus (Phillies) worked the final 3 1/3 frames, yielding an unearned run.
Team USA scored all of its runs in the second and sixth innings. Brad Eldred (Rockies) opened the second with a standup triple and former first-round pick Eric Hosmer (Royals) followed with a four-pitch walk. Frazier hit the first pitch he saw from Puerto Rico starter Hiram Burgos over the left-field fence to put the U.S. ahead, 3-0.
Later in the inning, Angels prospect Mike Trout legged out a triple and scored on an errant relay throw.
Puerto Rico came back within 4-3, pushing a run across in the fourth and two more in the sixth.
Team USA put the game away in the bottom of the inning. Frazier and Erik Kratz (Pirates) started the frame with singles and Trout executed a perfect sacrifice to advance both runners. Two batters later, Jackson unloaded on an offering from Efrain Nieves to make it 7-3.
De Fratus allowed an unearned run in the ninth as Puerto Rico attempted to rally, but the right-hander got Neftali Soto (Reds) to ground out to first to end the game.
Burgos (0-1) took the loss and Jorge Padilla and Gabriel Martinez both went 2-for-4 for the host nation.
The U.S. (1-0) next faces Aruba (0-2) at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday in Ponce.
Live scoring for all U.S. games will be available at www.USABaseball.com, the online home for USA Baseball. Visit the site for schedule and roster information, tournament updates and more.
OPENING GAME TRENDS: Team USA lost the opener of the 2009 IBAF World Cup, 13-9, to Venezuela, in extra innings. It won its next 14 games en route to the gold medal. The U.S. is 4-2 in its last six professional team tournament openers, dating back to 2006.
COACHES' CORNER: Former Major Leaguer Ernie Young begins his first stint as Team USA manager. He was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team that won gold in Sydney and also served on the Team USA coaching staff at the 2009 IBAF World Cup (gold) and the 2003 Olympic Qualifier in Panama.
ACTION JACKSON: Brett Jackson, who led Team USA with a .545 batting average during training camp in Cary, N.C., continued his torrid hitting by going 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. The former first-round pick is an outfield prospect in the Cubs organization and played collegiately at Cal-Berkeley.
SMOKIN' TODD FRAZIER: Reds prospect Todd Frazier put Team USA on the board with a three-run blast to left in the second. He was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Frazier was the winning pitcher in the 1998 Little League World Series for champion Toms River, N.J.
ACE RETURNS: U.S. starter Todd Redmond, who went 3-0 with a 1.21 ERA in three starts for the gold medal team at the 2009 World Cup, got the win after allowing two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings.
NOTABLE FANS: Former scout and Puerto Rican League star Jorge Posada Sr., father of Yankees catcher Jorge Posada; and former Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause were in attendance at Saturday's game.