Four days are complete at the World Junior Championship in Thunder Bay, Ont., and the usual teams sit atop their respective pools in Cuba and Team USA. Both are undefeated in three games. Cuba has outscored its opponents 29-1 while Team USA has a 24-2 edge.
Team USA opened tournament play with a 4-2 win over Australia. Righthander A.J. Vanegas, the Padres' 2010 seventh-round pick, started the game and went six innings, allowing one run on four hits and three walks while striking out eight. Lefthander John Hochstatter finished the game and picked up the save. He allowed one run on two hits in three innings while striking out four. Outfielder Michael Lorenzen, the Rays' seventh-round pick, went 2-for-2 with two walks, two RBIs and a run scored. He also added an outfield assist.
On Sunday, Team USA cruised to 10-0 victory over Italy in seven innings. Righthander John Simms, the Nationals' 39th-round pick, started and dominated, going six innings, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out 11. Shortstop Francisco Lindor, a top 2011 prospect, went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored to lead the offense.
“John (Simms) pitched very well for us,” head coach Garye LaFevers said after the Italy win. “He worked ahead in the count and could have probably finished the game, but it was good to get (righthander) Dillon (Maples) an appearance.”
Maples walked two and struck out two in one inning of work.
Against Taiwan on Monday, Team USA won 10-0 in another contest shortened to seven innings by the mercy rule. The U.S. hammered out 15 hits in the game including six for extra bases. Lindor went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. He and first baseman Blake Swihart homered. Lefthander Philip Pfeifer allowed just two hits and two walks in the complete game. He struck out eight.
Lorenzen is the leading hitter of the tournament so far at .714 with five hits in seven at-bats. Australia catcher Ryan Battaglia leads in home runs with two and Simms' 11 strikeouts only trails South Korea's lefthander Sik Chang Yoo, who has 16 in 10 innings of work.
Pool play continues Tuesday and concludes on Wednesday. Team USA faces Venezuela on Tuesday and France on Wednesday. More information on the tournament is available at the International Baseball Federation's revamped website, ibaf.org/en/.
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