Team USA Takes Silver At 2019 WBSC U-18 World Cup
USA Baseball's streak of gold medals in the World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 World Cup was snapped this year in South Korea, as Team USA fell to Chinese Taipei in the championship game, 2-1.
After winning four straight gold medals in the event, USA entered the tournament as the favorite, looking to extend their streak of championships to five, but never had the look of the dominant 18U American clubs of the past several years. Team USA lost first to Japan in the group before battling back and winning close games in the Super Round against Australia and Korea to make the gold medal game.
Team USA was held to just one run in the game, as tournament MVP Chien Yu threw 6.2 shutout innings with seven strikeouts and no walks against them. Chinese Taipei limited Team USA to just five hits on the game.
The 18U National team had four players representing America on the U-18 All-World Team: CF Pete Crow-Armstrong, RF Robert Hassell, RP Alejandro Rosario and DH Tyler Soderstrom.
Below you can see game-by-game results for Team USA, as well as top performers for each game throughout the tournament.
Championship Game: Chinese Taipei 2, USA 1
Top Performers: LF Robert Hassell tallied his seventh multi-hit game in the two-hole, going 2-for-4 with the sole run scored for Team USA. On the tournament, Hassell finished with a .514/.548/.886 slash line and led all hitters in RBI (14), runs (14) and slugging percentage (.886), while tying for the tournament lead in home runs (2) and finishing second in batting average (.514), doubles (5) and total hits (18). DH/RF Tyler Soderstrom went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and 3B/2B Colby Halter went 1-for-4. LHP Lucas Gordon got the start for Team USA and threw a strong 5.2 innings, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks, while striking out a pair of batters and throwing 80 pitches (51 for strikes).
Super Round Standings
September 7 — USA 8, Korea 5
With a gold medal game on the line, Team USA got into a big early hole against Korea., which scored five runs in the first two innings. Ever resilient, the American 18U National time slowly climbed back into the game and held Korea at five runs the rest of the way, eventually winning 8-5 and securing their spot in the gold medal game Sunday against Chinese Taipei.
Top Performers: 3B/2B Colby Halter led Team USA in hitting, going 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a pair of runs scored, while LF Robert Hassell collected his sixth multi-hit game of the tournament, going 2-for-3 with a home run, double, a run scored and three RBIs. For the tournament, Hassell leads all batters in runs (13), RBI (14), doubles (5) and slugging percentage (.936). He's tied for first with a pair of home runs and is second among all batters in total hits (16). 1B/P Nolan McLean and SS Milan Tolentino both added a pair of hits as well. RHP Alejandro Rosario has been an effective reliever for Team USA throughout the tournament, but never more so than in this outing. After RHP Mick Abel lasted just a third of an inning, Rosario entered and threw 7.2 shutout innings of relief, striking out six batters, walking two and allowing three hits.
September 6 — USA 10, Canada 0
The Americans got another dominant pitching performance in their second game in the Super Round Thursday night, topping Canada 10-0 with a well-rounded game from the lineup, top-to-bottom. With the win Team USA improves to 3-1 in the Supers, now tied for first with Chinese Taipei.
Top Performers: RHP Ben Hernandez became the fourth pitcher of the tournament to throw a complete game, though it was a seven-inning affair shortened by the run-rule. Hernandez struck out eight batters and walked none, while allowing five hits on 96 pitches (62 for strikes). The duo of Pete Crow-Armstrong and Robert Hassell at the top of the lineup continued to plug along for the Americans. Crow-Armstrong led off the game with a leadoff triple and would score on a Hassell sacrifice fly, and the speedy centerfielder later added a second triple to go 2-for-4 on the day with a pair of runs scored. Hassell tallied his fifth multi-hit game of the tournament with a 2-for-3 showing with a triple, three RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Hassell leads all hitters at the U18 World Cup with 14 hits, while Crow-Armstrong is tied for second with 11. DH Tyler Soderstrom also added a pair of hits, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
September 5 — USA 2, Australia 1
The US team won a pivotal first game of the Super Round late Wednesday night, as catcher Drew Romo hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to top Australia—who entered the Supers as the only 2-0 team. A loss would have put the Americans in a hole that might have prevented them from making the Gold Medal game, with Australia moving to 3-0, the US team falling to 1-2 with a pair of teams sitting at 2-1 in Japan and Chinese Taipei. However, now the four teams mentioned are all tied at 2-1 and should be in control of their own destinies, though Team USA won't face any of those clubs in their final two Super Round games, instead squaring off against Canada (0-3) and Korea (1-2).
Top Performers: RHP Max Rajcic threw a dominant game, going 7.2 innings without allowing a run before hitting the final batter he would face. That baserunner would come around to score immediately after Rajcic left, charging him with one earned run, but the Southern California pitcher struck out eight batters, walked none and allowed just four hits on 107 pitches (70 strikes). Pete Crow-Armstrong's contributions to the win didn't show up in the box score (though he did go 1-for-4 with a triple out of the leadoff spot), but he played a sensational center field, making highlight reel catches on multiple occasions including his second leaping grab at the center field fence to take away an extra-base hit. 3B Colby Halter had another multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a double, while the previously mentioned Romo went 2-for-4 with the most important hit of the game. SS Milan Tolentino went hitless, but made a number of difficult plays at shortstop, including a pair of slow rollers where he made strong throws on the run and a key double play to end the inning in the top of the seventh.
Final Group Standings
September 4 — USA 5, Panama 3
Team USA won its final game of pool play against Panama with a 5-3 victory that included a pair of home runs and another strong outing from lefthander Kyle Harrison. With the win, Team USA finishes pool play with a 4-1 record and clinched the No. 2 seed (Japan is the No. 1 seed) heading into the Super Round.
Top Performers: Harrison continues to be the national team's most reliable starter, and is the only starting pitcher to not allow a run—though he's also the only pitcher with multiple starts under his belt so far this tournament. Against Panama, Harrison threw four shutout innings and struck out three batters, while scattering five hits. LF Robert Hassell and 1B/P Nolan McLean both homered in the game. Hassell went 2-for-4 out of the three-spot in the lineup with a walk, a run and two RBIs while McLean went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run and two RBIs. 2B/P Colby Halter had a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate that featured a double and also recorded the save with a perfect ninth inning, while CF Pete Crow-Armstrong and RF/P/1B AJ Vukovich both tallied two hits in the game.
September 3 — USA 8, Spain 3
After an unscheduled off-day thanks to inclement weather, Team USA bounced back in group play against Spain with an 8-3 win that featured a six-run seventh inning to open up what was previously a close contest. Outfielders Pete Crow-Armstrong and Robert Hassell continue to be solid spark plugs for the Americans at the top of the lineup, and have hit .462/.467/.615 and .500/.550/.722, respectively through four games.
Top Performers: LF/P Robert Hassell went 3-for-5 with a double, two runs and an RBI out of the two-spot, while CF Pete Crow-Armstrong went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs out of the leadoff spot. Hassell entered the game for one inning of relief and threw a shutout frame with a pair of strikeouts as well. 1B/LF AJ Vukovich went 2-for-5 with a double out of the cleanup spot, while SS Milan Tolentiono also tallied a multi-hit game out of the nine-hole, going 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, two RBIs and a run scored. RHP Mick Abel got the start for Team USA and threw four innings while allowing a pair of runs and striking out four and walking two. RHP Alejandro Rosario threw four innings of relief, picking up the win while striking out three batters and allowing just one run on three hits and no walks while touching 96 mph.
September 1 — Japan 16, USA 7
Japan handed Team USA its first loss of the tournament, and outhit the team 12-to-7, while all four USA pitchers allowed runs. RHP Ben Hernandez started the game and lasted just two innings after allowing five hits and six earned runs, before LHP Lucas Gordan, RHP Rawley Hector and RHP Nolan McLean combined for six innings of relief and 10 runs allowed on seven hits, while walking six batters and striking out six.
Top Performers: 2B Hunter Haas was the only Team USA hitter to tally a multi-hit day, going 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. CF Pete Crow-Armstrong and 1B AJ Vukovich both doubled, scored a run and drove in a run, while C Drew Romo tripled and walked, also scoring a run and driving in a run.
August 31 — USA 8, Chinese Taipei 1
Top Performers: CF Pete Crow-Armstrong led the way for Team USA in their second game of the tournament, going 3-for-5 out of the leadoff spot and also making a highlight-reel catch in center field, leaping at the wall to rob a home run. Behind him in the second spot, LF Robert Hassell stayed hot with the bat, going 2-for-5 with a double, a pair of runs and an RBI. On the mound, RHP Max Rajcic picked up the win, throwing 5.2 innings allowing one run on four hits and a walk, while striking out two batters.
August 30 — USA 11, South Africa 0
Top Performers: LHP Kyle Harrison picked up the win in Team USA's first game of the tournament, tossing 5.1 shutout innings. He allowed a pair of singles and a walk, while striking out nine batters on 71 pitches (41 for strikes). CF/LF Robert Hassell led off for Team USA, and sparked the lineup with a 3-for-4 day at the plate that included a pair of doubles and a walk. DH/1B Tyler Soderstrom had a three-hit day as well, going 3-for-4 out of the cleanup spot with a team-high three RBIs. C Drew Romo went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and two walks.