The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team beat Japan 6-3 in Sunday’s championship game of the Haarlem-Honkbal Week, giving Team USA its fourth Honkbal title since 2000.
Team USA went 7-1 in the Netherlands, rallying for seven straight wins after losing its Honkbal opener. The Americans are now 29-5 all-time in the tournament, having previously won the title in 2000, 2002 and 2008.
Alex Bregman (Louisiana State) won the Honkbal Week Most Valuable Player award after hitting .367 with six stolen bases and playing strong infield defense in the tournament. Christin Stewart (Tennessee) led Team USA with a .455/.538/.591 slash line in Haarlem to win the event’s “Best Hitter” award. Clemson’s Chris Okey was named “Carl Angelo Most Popular Player.”
Team USA’s pitching was dominant in the tournament, posting a 0.62 staff ERA, as the Americans outscored their opponents 34-6 in seven games. Carson Fulmer (Vanderbilt) and James Kaprielian (UCLA) started two games apiece, working 11 innings apiece without allowing an earned run. Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville) also started two games, including the championship game against Japan, when he allowed two runs over 4 1/3 innings. Tyler Jay (Illinois) followed with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win in the title game. Okey went 2-for-3 with two RBIs to lead USA’s 10-hit attack in the finale. Nick Banks (Texas A&M) hit a two-run single to highlight Team USA’s three-run fourth inning, giving the Americans a commanding 4-0 lead they would never relinquish.
Japan beat Team USA 1-0 to start the week, but the Americans bounced back to beat the Japanese 6-0 later in the event, then won the third meeting between the teams Sunday. Team USA also won the best-of-three Friendship Series against Japan in North Carolina before both teams headed to the Netherlands. Team USA is now 18-3-2 overall on the summer, with a five-game series in Cuba still to come starting Wednesday.
“These guys are really proud to wear the USA Baseball uniform, and I am really excited that we were able to win here at Honkbal week,” Team USA head coach Dave Van Horn (Arkansas) said in a release. “It was important for us to play well, and I thought we played extremely hard today. For us to come back to win this tournament after losing the first game like we did, 1-0, was really something special.
“We have a tremendous coaching staff and a great group of guys that has really come together as a team in a quick period. We felt that if we could get this team to play up to its potential we would have a shot to win this tournament, and that is what happened.”