It may not have been the result that USA baseball was looking for when they made their way to the Netherlands for a week full of tournament baseball. But just the same, a bronze medal is nothing to sneeze at. Team USA finished third in the Honkbalweek tournament by defeating Japan 5-1. Their overall record in this event was 4-3. For a team that was put together in June and had to wait until after the College WorldSseries for their manager to join them, their result and overall finish was a job well done. Manager Mike Blanco credited his team “for playing their hearts out and what they accomplished.”
Team USA was built around a pitching staff that was very good throughout the tournament. Their team ERA of 0.70 included three shutouts, They would allow only five earned runs during the seven games played. In 49.2 innings, the pitching staff struck out 62 hitters and walked 20, and gave up two extra-base hits. Hunter Elliott of Ole Miss led the staff in strikeouts with nine. He posted a 1.31 ERA in two starts for Team USA. Joseph Gonzalez of Ole Miss did not allow an earned run in 7.2 innings pitched giving up five hits and one unearned run. The staff gave up 29 hits in the seven games played.
The offense, at times, struggled in this tournament. Maybe switching to wood bats had something to do with it. Overall, the Red & White & Blue had a team batting average of .225 (41-for-182) 11 extra-base hits, and thirty runs scored. Yohandy Morales of Miami had a fine week at the plate hitting .400 (8-for-20) which led the team and was second in the tournament. He also led the team and tournament in slugging percentage (.600), hits with eighth, total bases with 11, and tied for the RBI lead with four. In the win over Japan, Morales went 3-for-3 with two singles and a double, with two RBI and a run scored. Jacob Wilson (Grand Canyon) finished second in batting at .364 and led the team in on-base percentage at .467. In the bronze medal game, Wilson had a big two-run double in the third inning. Wyatt Langford (Florida) hit .333 (7-for-21), had two stolen bases, tied for the team lead, and was second in the event. He was a defensive star in the outfield making a diving catch vs Japan in the bronze medal game.
Speaking of the defense, this group did well in that area. For a team that did not spend much time together, they finished with a .975 fielding percentage. They had a total of five errors in the seven games. They turned 17 double plays, and Tre` Morgan (LSU) helped turn four of those. There were two passed balls charged to catcher Kyle Teel (Virginia) which again is pretty good when you consider how little time Teel had to prepare with this staff. He did lead the event with 54 putouts and in caught stealing attempts with two. Morgan was third in putouts with 31.
In the end, this team did a good job in the Netherlands. The experiences of playing in this event should help these players when they return to playing college ball next spring.
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