THUNDER BAY, Canada – The USA Baseball 18U National Team completed a dominant stay at the 2017 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup with an equally dominant performance, rolling past Korea, 8-0, at Port Arthur Stadium on Sunday.
Team USA finishes the competition with a perfect 9-0 record, joining the 1989 squad (7-0) as the only two USA Baseball 18U National Teams to go undefeated in World Cup play.
The United States has now won four consecutive 18U world championships, including the 2012 and 2013 IBAF ‘AAA’ World Cups in Seoul, South Korea and Taichung, Taiwan, respectively, and the 2015 edition in Osaka, Japan. The only other country to have previously accomplished that feat is Cuba which did so from 1984-87 when the tournament was held annually.
The U.S. 18U squad also won the 2011, 2014 and 2016 COPABE Pan American Championships in Cartagena, Colombia, La Paz, Mexico, and Monterrey, Mexico, respectively, giving it international tournament titles in seven consecutive years.
This year’s championship avenges the last time the USA Baseball 18U National Team was held off the podium in an international competition as it did not medal at the 2010 WBSC World Cup, which was also held in Thunder Bay.
The World Cup title is the ninth overall for Team USA which also brought back gold medals in 1982, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1999, 2012, 2013, and 2015.
Sunday’s victory marked the 16th consecutive win for Team USA in WBSC U-18 World Cup action, including the final seven contests of the 2015 version of the event, held in Osaka, Japan.
As it did the entire tournament, the U.S. pitching staff set the tone, starting with Matthew Liberatore (Peoria, Ariz.). The 6-5 righthander pitched six sparkling innings, holding Korea to just four hits while walking two and striking out one to earn the win.
Cole Wilcox (Chickamauga, Ga.), Mason Denaburg (Merritt Island, Fla.), and JT Ginn (Brandon, Miss.) added one scoreless inning each out of the bullpen to complete Team USA’s sixth shutout of the tournament.
In nine World Cup games, the U.S. pitching staff yielded only five runs – four earned – for a team ERA of 0.47. In 77.0 innings of play, 10 pitchers combined to strike out 101 batters and held opposing hitters to a .135 batting average.
After two scoreless innings to open Sunday’s contest, the Team USA offense exploded for three runs in the third, four in the fourth, and one more in the fifth.
Tournament MVP Triston Casas (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) had the big blow with a mammoth two-out, two-run home run. He also had an RBI double as he notched three RBIs in the contest, giving him a team-high 13 for the tournament.
In addition to Casas’ award, five fellow team members also earned honors from the WBSC. Brandon Dieter (Covina, Calif.) took home the award for the best ERA in the competition (0.00), while Ethan Hankins (Cumming, Ga.), Brice Turang (Corona, Calif.), Mike Siani (Glenside, Pa.), and Alek Thomas (Chicago, Ill.) were tabbed to the All-World Team.