A three-run homer in the fourth inning from Christian Colon (pictured) of Cal State-Fullerton provided the big blow as USA Baseball’s National Team blew past Japan 8-4, giving the Americans a 2 games to 1 lead in their 37th annual best-of-5 Collegiate Friendship Series.

Vanderbilt’s Sonny Gray (2-0) pitched 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to hold down the Japanese, who scored three times in the first inning to delight the partisan crowd in Sendai. Takahiro Araki had an RBI triple and Masayoshi Kato a two-run triple in Japan’s big rally.

Team USA scored four runs in the second to take the lead for good. After Tennessee’s Blake Forsythe hit an RBI single to being in Yasmani Grandal of Miami, Florida State’s Tyler Holt, Clemson’s Brad Miller and Colon followed with RBI singles.

After Colon’s game-deciding heroics, Keiji Nakahara homered for the Japanese in the bottom of the frame.

Yusuke Nomura took the loss.

Game 4 is Wednesday at 5 a.m. (EDT) in Tsuruoka.