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18U National Team Wins Gold At COPABE

Courtesy of USA Baseball Courtesy of USA Baseball

SEE ALSO: 18U Team Continues To Dominate

USA Baseball’s 18U National Team beat Cuba 6-1 on Sunday to win the gold medal in the 2016 COPABE Pan American Championships, the fourth COPABE title for the Americans.

The Americans went 7-1 in the tournament. The top four countries qualified for the 2017 18U World Baseball Softball Confederation World Cup, slated to take place in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada next September.

In the decisive gold medal game, Team USA rode an outstanding performance from righthander Hans Crouse. Crouse, a high-profile draft prospect for 2017, cruised through seven strong innings, allowing one hit and one unearned run. Crouse struck out 11 and walked three.

The Americans jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. This year’s squad had four returnees from the 2015 squad that won the World Cup. Hagen Danner, one of the returning veterans, drove in the game’s first two runs with a double, then scored on an RBI double by Nick Pratto, also a member of that 2015 team.

Another Team USA returnee, lefthander Jordan Butler, closed out the victory with two shutout innings. Butler throws from a deceptive, low three-quarters arm slot and flashes a late-breaking, frisbee-type slider. He served as the de facto relief ace of the 2015 pitching staff, and fittingly sealed the gold medal for Team USA on Sunday.

Class of 2018 outfielder Jarred Kelenic received the Most Valuable Player award following the gold medal game.

Cuba won the silver medal and Mexico won the bronze. Those two countries, as well as fourth-place Nicaragua, will join Team USA in next year’s World Cup.

The Americans have won three consecutive gold medals in the World Cup.

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