USA Baseball's 18-and-under national team finished off pool play with a 6-2 win over Australia Wednesday morning (local time) to improve its record to 4-1 at the 18U World Championship, but had to make a quick turnaround and play Canada Wednesday evening in the first of three crossover games. After nine innings of scoreless baseball, the international tie breaker rule was used in the 10th and Canada pushed one run across before holding off Team USA in the bottom of the inning to seal the victory.
After opening with a rout of the Netherlands at the IBAF, Team USA dropped its second game 8-2 to Korea, but bounced back for 11-1 and 3-2 wins over Colombia and Venezuela respectively before facing Australia.
Against Korea, Team USA was down just 3-2 after five innings, but the host team scored four runs off righthander Kevin Davis (Miller HS, Brewton, Ala.) in the sixth and added another in the eighth. The offense was held to seven hits—all singles. Jeremy Martinez (Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif.) and Christian Arroyo (Hernando HS, Brooksville, Fla.) drove in each run.
Team USA then put up double-digit runs against Colombia, scoring in each of the first three innings to go up 8-1 early. Outfielder Ryan Boldt (Red Wing, Minn., HS) drew four walks and scored four runs as the leadoff hitter. He also stole five bases, setting a single-game record for Team USA. The previous mark was three. Team USA also set a team record for stolen bases in a game with 10. Reese McGuire (Kentwood HS, Covington, Wash.) and Martinez each had three RBIs. Lefthander Stephen Gonsalves (Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego) pitched all seven innings of the game shortened by the mercy rule. He allowed one run on six hits, walked two and struck out eight.
A late run was needed to beat Venezuela as Team USA scratched one across in the bottom of the eighth and closed the door in the ninth to win 3-2. Lefthander Carson Sands (North Florida Christian School, Tallahassee), a junior, pitched the first three innings and was relieved by righthander Dominic Taccolini (Kempner HS, Sugar Land, Texas) after surrendering two runs to Venezuela. Taccolini completed the game with six innings pitched, one hit, one walk and eighth strikeouts. The U.S. scored twice in the fourth to tie the game. Arroyo drove in Willie Abreu (Mater Academy, Hialeah Gardens, Fla.) with a single and then scored on a base hit by Boldt. He also scored the eventual winning run in the eighth when Cavan Biggio (St. Thomas HS, Houston) singled to center field.
Australia needed a win to advance to the crossover games, but Team USA righthander Ryan Olson (Western Christian HS, Upland, Calif.) dominated for eight shutout innings, allowing only two hits and a walk while striking out seven. McGuire led the offense, going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
Canadian lefthander Ryan Kellogg, an unsigned 12th-round pick of the Blue Jays that will attend Arizona State, got the start against the U.S. and stepped up in a big way for his country. He fired 8 2/3 innings for Canada, holding his North American counterparts to two hits and a walk. He also struck out five. Lefthanders Garrett Williams (Calvary Baptist School, Shreveport, La.) and Ian Clarkin (Madison HS, San Diego) nearly matched Kellogg, combining for eight innings pitched, five hits, four walks and eight strikeouts. Righthander Keegan Thompson (Cullman, Ala., HS) pitched the final two innings and got the loss after allowing one run on one hit and a walk. He struck out two.
Team USA is now 4-2 at the tournament and will face Chinese Taipei and Japan in its next two crossover games, which will determine the medal round. Canada will face Colombia and Korea next.
Martinez is leading the team's offense with a .450 average (9-for-20) and is tied with McGuire and Arroyo with seven RBIs. Boldt is just 3-for-18 (.167), but he's walked six times, been hit four and reached on two fielder's choices. He's scored eight runs and has 10 stolen bases. Williams is proving to be the ace so far, having gone 11 2/3 innings without giving up a run. He's allowed nine hits and five walks while striking out 13.