A day after staving off elimination with a 5-4 walk-off win against Panama, USA Baseball’s 15-and-under team won the COPABE Pan American Championships gold medal Sunday, knocking off Cuba 6-1 in Barranquilla, Colombia.
The win sealed an 8-0 tournament run for Team USA, which included several dominating wins and a couple of late-inning comebacks.
Shortstop Chase Strumpf, of Ladera Ranch, Calif., won the 15U tournament’s MVP award, batting .487 and hitting a team-high five home runs.
“The guys did a tremendous job and I’m really proud of them,” manager Tom Meusborn said. “It was a great team effort and our guys did an outstanding job representing their country today. There’s no better feeling than winning the gold medal.”
Mason Thompson, a 6-foot-6 righthander from Round Rock, Texas, gave Team USA six innings of three-hit, one-run ball, striking out six. With a three-run go-ahead home run from left fielder Andrew Vaughn, Team USA broke the game open in the fourth, knocking out Cuba starter Orlando Moya and building a five-run cushion.
“As soon as I hit it I knew it was gone,” Vaughn said. “I can’t even describe how good this feels right now.”
Sunday marked the second time Team USA beat Cuba in the 2013 tournament. On Aug. 1 , USA rallied for six runs with two outs in the sixth inning, overcoming a four-run deficit to beat Cuba 11-9.
“That was a wild game and I was really glad to see our guys come out on top in this one,” Meusborn said after the win. “Coming back from four runs down against a tough team like Cuba is not an easy task, let alone doing it with two outs in an inning.”
Overall, the 15U USA Baseball team outscored tournament opponents 66-20, winning gold in just its second year in existence,
“This is an unbelievable feeling,” Thompson said. “And I’m so proud to bring this championship back to the United States.”