Team USA took home the gold in the title game of the 25th IBAF Under-18 Baseball World Championship last night at the Mokdong Baseball Stadium in Seoul, South Korea, by topping Canada in a 6-2 final.
It was the first time in nearly 15 years that the US have won the honor.
Jeremy Martinez’s two-run single off Canadian starter Cal Quantrill broke a 1-all deadlock in what ended up being a three-run third. The 4-1 advantage proved sufficient for starter Ian Clarkin, who cruised through six frames pitching two-run ball in a four-hit gem, before relievers Ryan Olson and Keegan Thompson combined for three impeccable innings of no-hit relief to preserve the title-claiming victory.
The three errors by the Canadian defense might have affected Quantrill and his successors somewhat, but it certainly did not make a dent on the outcome of the contest, as their neighbors on the south managed to plate two more insurance runs in the seventh, courtesy of a timely come-backer by cleanup man Reese McGuire that deflected off the glove of Canadian reliever Ryan Kellogg to slip into shallow-left for what was scored a rare infield double.
Clarkin was credited with the win, while Quantrill was tagged for the loss, allowing four runs (two earned) on as many hits over 2-1/3 innings of play.
Colombia 1, Taiwan 4
In the bronze-medal game, Taiwan topped Colombia for the second time in the week with a 4-1 triumph at the Mokdong Baseball Stadium yesterday afternoon to claim the third-place honor, thanks to a brilliant outing from starter Tseng Jen-ho, who went the distance for skipper Lan Wen-cheng in a six-hitter to deny the Colombians a chance to finish in the top three for the first time.
Similar to the match between the two squads on Friday that saw the Islanders struck for three quick runs over the first two innings of play, yesterday’s bronze-medal game featured a three-run first for the defending champs as they rang up three singles and forced a walk on top of two errors by the Colombian defense to spot Tseng a 3-0 lead.
That was more than ample for the righty out of Kaohsiung County’s San Min Senior High School, who fanned an even dozen while scattering six hits to get the job done.
Colombia actually outhit the Taiwanese by a slim 6-5 margin, but never got the clutch hits off Tseng when they needed to produce more than the lone run that came in the top of the third, when Christian Palacios led off the innings with a single and scored two batters later on an RBI groundout by Edwin Fuentes to avoid the shutout loss.
South Korea 3, Japan 0
South Korea made the most of an otherwise disappointing showing over the past week by blanking Japan in a 3-0 decision to settle with the fifth-place finish in this year’s competition.
The hosts kept the Japanese bats to four meagerly hits while relying on just three hits, including a solo shot by Yoon Dae-young to plate the three runs in the game.
Starter Lee Geon-wook earned the win while the loss went to his counterpart, Shohei Otani of Japan.