Venezuela advances behind one-hitter
Win over Australia clinches berth in Classic's second round
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Venezuelan starter Kelvim Escobar was in control from the start, striking out four of the first five batters he faced. Escobar retired the first seven batters he faced before seeing Bradley Harman deliver Australia's only hit of the evening, a third-inning, one-out single.
Escobar's counterpart, Australian starter Phil Brassington, who allowed one earned run and two hits in four innings, was nearly as effective with a large supply of knuckleballs. His only mistake came when Hernandez began the second inning by drilling an 0-1 delivery over the left-field wall.
After Escobar allowed one earned run in 4 1/3 innings, Tony Armas Jr. and Gustavo Chacin continued the mastery of an Australian offense that has registered just two hits in its first two games of this tournament.
Australia's best scoring opportunity came in the fourth inning, when Escobar issued two of his three walks. But with runners at the corners and one out, the Venezuelan right-hander got Dave Nilsson to ground into an inning-ending double play.
When Brassington was forced to take his knuckleballs to the bench after coming within two pitches of the 65-pitch limit, the Australians brought hard-throwing Peter Moylan in and the Venezuelans had trouble adjusting.
With an effectively wild approach, Moylan, whose fastball was clocked as high as 95 mph, threw just 21 of his 55 pitches for strikes. During 1 2/3 innings, he allowed a hit, recorded four strikeouts and issued five walks. But it wasn't until Juan Rivera contributed a sixth-inning, two-out single that the Venezualans were able to take advantage of Moylan's control problems. He followed the Rivera single by issuing three straight walks, including one to Omar Vizquel with the bases loaded.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.