“I felt like we already (had a target on our backs) coming in, having won the past three years in a row,” Liberatore said, “but the way we’ve played and the kind of pressure we’ve put on teams so far has enlarged that target on our backs, so I like it . . .

“There’s no greater accomplishment than being able to represent your country doing what you love. It’s a pretty cool feeling to go out there and pitch wearing USA across my chest and on my hat. And I definitely want to win a gold medal–that would be unreal.”

World Cup Notes

Rounding out Team USA’s group in Thunder Bay, both Japan and Cuba sit right behind the Americans in the standings with two wins apiece, while Mexico, Netherlands and South Africa each have two losses.

In Group A, South Korea has also secured its spot in the super round with its third win on Sunday against the host Team Canada. Taiwan and Australia are just behind them with two wins each, while Canada, Italy and Nicaragua each have two losses and are in danger of being relegated to the consolation round.

“They have to win,” said Greg Hamilton, Baseball Canada’s director of national teams. “There’s no margin anymore. We’ve got to win games and we’ve got to win them all. If we don’t, we’re not going to be playing for anything meaningful.”