Posted: Nov 12, 2019
TOKYO – Former Santa Clara baseball pitcher Penn Murfee got the starting nod for USA Baseball in the Premier12 global Olympic qualifier on Tuesday and tossed three scoreless innings against host Japan in front of 28,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 Super Round is the first of a possible three tournaments in which USA Baseball could clinch a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Murfee got the start after a late scratch by Tanner Houck. The Nashville, Tennessee native did not allow a hit while tossing three shutout innings and struck out a pair. He left after 40 pitches with a 2-0 lead.
USA Baseball would hang on to win by a score of 4-3 to move to 3-2 overall in the tournament and holds a 1-2 record in the Super Round standings.
At Premier12, the top-ranked nation from North and South America qualifies for the Olympics. The tournament is at the super-round stage of the final six teams.
The top four nations after each has played five games advance to gold- and bronze-medal games.
Mexico already beat the U.S. and ran its super-round record to 3-0 on Tuesday, clinching a spot in the medal round.
The U.S. must at least get into the same medal-round game as Mexico to keep its hope of finishing as the top team from the Americas. Team USA plays Australia on Wednesday and Chinese Taipei on Friday.
If the U.S. does not qualify for the Olympic Games out of the Premier12, they will host the Americas Qualifier in March 2020 in Arizona. A final intercontinental qualifier will also take place in Taiwan in March/April 2020.
Murfee was a 33rd round selection by the Seattle Mariners in the 2018 MLB draft after a stellar season at Santa Clara. The side-armer transferred from Vanderbilt and in his lone season with the Broncos he was the swiss army knife of pitchers to lead the team in wins (six) and innings pitched (66.2 IP) and second in saves (four), appearances (24) and ERA (3.65).