Collegiate National Team Wraps Up Successful Summer
USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team wrapped up an impressive summer slate last week with a series win in Cuba, completing their campaign with series wins against Taiwan, Japan and Cuba and a 12-3 overall record.
But it wasn’t just the success that made the team memorable to manager Paul Mainieri, it was also the way the players conducted themselves.
“We just had an amazing group of young men,” Mainieri said. “They obviously were very talented, but they were also very unselfish. Conducted themselves in a first-class way, like to think they forged relationships with teammates and coaches that will last a lifetime. For me, personally, it was a dream come true, something I can check off my bucket list.”
The team won all five games against Taiwan and then took three out of five from Japan before traveling to Havana. Team USA won the first three games to win the series against Cuba for the fourth consecutive summer.
Catcher Adley Rutschman (Oregon State) finished an excellent campaign by going 5-for-12 in Cuba, walking three times and driving in two runs. Overall, Rutschman led all Team USA hitters with a .355 batting average.
Mainieri raved about Rutschman, who joined the team late following the Beavers’ national championship run at the College World Series. Rutschman came to Team USA for the final two series and quickly made an impact.
“Adley is one of those guys that’s just got the 'it' factor to the nth degree,” Mainieri said. “When he joined our team following the Taiwan series he just brought so much to our team from an ability standpoint as a hitter and a catcher and as a leader. He’s cut right out of central casting. He’s got everything you look for in a ballplayer and a person.
“He made us better in a lot of ways. I think he picked everyone up around him. He was a true leader of our team. He caught great, hit great from both sides of the plate and he was a great manager of the pitching staff along with (Virginia head coach) Brian O’Connor. If I was a general manager of a team, I would have a tough time passing on him next year in the draft.”
Outfielder Daniel Cabrera (Louisiana State) and shortstop Bryson Stott (Nevada-Las Vegas) were two of the other offensive standouts for Team USA. Cabrera, a sophomore, led the team in home runs (two) and finished second in RBIs with six. Stott raised his prospect status with an impressive summer both at the plate and at shortstop. He hit .262/.340/.333 and made several highlight-reel plays, showing impressive defensive ability.
“A lot of our success was due to the way Bryson Stott played defensively for us,” Mainieri said. “By the second half he was swinging extremely well. I think Bryson did himself an awful lot of good in the way he improved and to catch the eye of the pro scouting world.”
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Team USA received solid pitching performances all summer. As a team, they posted a 2.06 ERA and held opponents to a .184 batting average. Lefthander Mason Feole (Connecticut) was one of the stars on the mound. In three appearances, he pitched 11 innings, allowed just three hits and no runs and struck out nine batters. Lefthander Drew Parrish (Florida State) and righthander Zack Hess (LSU) were similarly strong, with neither pitcher allowing a run. Parrish struck out eight batters and walked just one in 10.1 innings of work, while Hess led the team with two wins and pitched nine innings across three appearances.
Closer Max Meyer (Minnesota) and lefthander Graeme Stinson (Duke) were part of an excellent bullpen for Team USA. Meyer, a sophomore, saved seven games and struck out 15 batters in eight innings. Stinson, a junior, struck out 10 batters in six innings and scattered two hits and five walks.
It was quite a run for the collegiate national team, and although Mainieri wishes his squad had won every game, he was happy with the results.
“I wish we would have won all 15 games,” Mainieri said. “But we won all three series, beat the Cuban National Team three-of-four in Cuba. The Japan team, man they were a tough team to beat. I have so much respect for the way they play the game. The pitching Japan threw at us was almost shocking to me how quality it was. It was successful results-wise, but mostly it was successful because the young men had an experience that they’ll never forget.”