Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray scattered three hits over seven innings and Connecticut's George Springer hit a grand slam as the United States Collegiate National baseball team defeated host Japan, 4-2, Thursday in the semifinal of the FISU World University Baseball Championships in Yokohama Stadium.
The victory sends the U.S. (6-0, 16-2) into the FISU championship game for the fourth consecutive time. The Americans will battle Cuba on Saturday.
Gray, who improved to 3-0 on the summer, allowed two runs -- one earned -- and struck out six. He has 37 strikeouts on the summer.
The right-hander surrendered a run in each of the first two innings before settling down where he allowed just four base runners over the next five innings.
Springer's slam gave the Americans a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the first, and gave Springer the team lead with 17 RBI.
Gray improved to 6-1 during his two-year career with the Collegiate National Team. He has 64 strikeouts to 12 walks in 48 career innings.
Cal State Fullerton Noe Ramirez pitched two scoreless innings to record his fifth save of the season. He walked one and struck out one.
Jason Esposito had his nine-game hitting streak snapped going 0-for-3.
Stanford will play Murray State in the first round of the 76 Classic in matchups announced Thursday by ESPN Regional Television.
The tournament will be held Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 25, 26 and 28, at the Anaheim Convention Center, the site of 1984 Olympic wrestling. The Cardinal and Racers meet in the third game of the day on Thanksgiving at 6 p.m.
The fourth-year event includes 12 games in three days with some games televised on ESPN2 and others on ESPNU. This year's field also features DePaul (Big East), Murray State (Ohio Valley), Cal State Northridge (Big West), Oklahoma State (Big 12), Tulsa (CUSA), UNLV (Mountain West) and Virginia Tech (ACC). Each team will compete in one game per day, advancing through a bracket-tournament format.