USA Junior Locks Up Semifinal Slot

USA Baseball's junior national team defeated Argentina 10-0 Thursday, locking up one of four spots in the semifinals of the COPABE AAA Pan American Junior Championship in Mexico and qualifying for the 2006 World Junior Championship.

Team USA ran its pool play record to 5-0 thanks to another impressive pitching performance, this time from senior righthander Josh Thrailkill (T.C. Roberson High, Asheville, N.C.). Thrailkill spun a complete-game three-hitter, dominating off his fastball-changeup-curveball repertoire with eight strikeouts and no walks.

The game was called after seven innings, thanks largely to an American offense that banged out 16 hits.

Outfielder L.V. Ware, a freshman at Okaloosa-Walton (Fla.) JC, was 4-for-5 with two runs and two stolen bases. Senior second baseman Adrian Cardenas (Monsignor Pace High, Opa Locka, Fla.) added three hits, two runs and two RBIs. Shortstop Marcus Lemon, a senior from Eustis (Fla.) High, scored three times and drove home two more.

Pool play continues Friday as Team USA meets Brazil. A victory would earn the junior national team the top seed in the medal round, which begins Saturday, though Team USA does not need to win again to reach medal play.

The eight-team tournament serves as a qualifier for next year's World Junior Championship. All four countries that advance to the semifinals qualify for next year's event.