UPDATED: 8:07 p.m. ET
With a 9-0 victory over Cuba in the 2011 IBAF World 'AA'/16U Youth Championships, Team USA claimed its sixth straight gold medal in international competition. Righthander Keegan Thompson (Cullman, Ala., HS) continued a dominating tournament performance by throwing a complete-game shutout against Cuba, striking out 12 while allowing just four hits and one walk. He went 2-0, 1.29 with 18 strikeouts in 14 innings at the tournament in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico.
"Keegan Thompson is legit," head coach Ernie Padron said. "He didn't let up. He was pounding the strike zone. He had three innings with single-digit pitch counts. He had command, mound presence and he went 4-for-5 at the plate—his out was a one-hop shot at the second baseman."
Thompson has an athletic frame a 6-foot-2, 175 pounds and works with a low-90s fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. Padron said his command and demeanor stood out against Cuba.
"He could throw wherever he wanted to throw, everything," said. "The composure he exhibited for a 16-year-old was mind boggling."
Infielder Zach Collins (American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.) was named MVP after hitting .536/.618/.964 with 16 RBIs in 28 at-bats. Outfielder Austin Meadows (Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga.) set a 16U record with 26 RBIs and was named to the all-tournament team.
A member of the 2013 class, Meadows is arguably the best draft prospect on the 16U team. He has a physical frame at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and showed an ability to hit for average and power, and run for Team USA.
"We started him as the leadoff guy," Padron said. "I thought he would bring a lot to the team there. Then he got seven RBIs in the first game and we dropped him to third. We did a good job in front of him. He's got three tools that anybody would want. He's a quiet leader. He just goes out and does what he has to do."
Heading into a second-round game against Japan, the 16U program was riding a 46-game win streak, having last lost against Cuba in the gold medal game of the 2005 World Youth Championships. That team featured future big league first baseman Freddie Freeman and righthander Blake Beavan.
"The win streak was something nice," 16U Team director Jeff Singer said. "Had we won against Japan and not Cuba, it wouldn't have meant anything. We were fortunate with a remarkable and crazy win the night before against Venezuela. The goal from the start was August 28 (the date of the gold medal game)."
Lagos de Moreno is at an elevation of over 6,000 feet so there was no shortage of offense for Team USA, who went 4-0 in the first round and outscored opponents 70-21. All four games were shortened under the mercy rule. In the second round, Team USA didn't run into trouble until facing Venezuela. The 16Us were down 5-0 after the second inning, but got locked into a back-and-forth battle. Venezuela was up 13-9 headed into the bottom of the eighth, when Team USA put a five-spot. Venezuela responded with two in the ninth and the U.S. tied it up at 15 to force extra innings. Venezuela plated two runs in the top of the 10th, but Team USA battled back and walked off with a sacrifice fly from outfielder Willie Abreu (Mater Academy, Hialeah, Fla.).
Team USA's lone loss was to Japan, the day after the win over Venezuela. That game also went to extra innings, but the U.S. fell 8-6.