SINCELEJO, Colombia – The USA Softball U-18 Men’s National Team (MNT) dominated the 2023 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Pan American Championship posting a 5-1 record through the week-long event to clinch the gold medal and earn a spot in the 2023 WBSC World Cup slated to take place in Hermosillo, Mexico later this year. The gold medal finish goes down in the history books as the first medal won by a U-18 MNT roster in over 35 years.
Advancing through opening round with a 4-1 record, Team USA kicked off the tournament with four-straight wins over Venezuela, Peru, Argentina and Colombia before suffering a narrow 6-7 decision to Canada. Despite the lone loss, the Eagles propelled their way into the gold medal contest after outscoring their opponents 39-8 to settle into a rematch against Venezuela with a trip to the 2023 WBSC World Cup on the line.
Once again proving victorious, the U-18 MNT posted its fifth and final win with a 6-1 victory over Venezuela to finish atop the podium. The U.S. combined for seven hits in the gold medal victory – three of which came in the bottom of the first inning – with Logan Boom tallying the only multi-hit performance at the plate with two base hits. Getting the start in the circle for the Red, White and Blue was Cody Gibbons who limited the Venezuela offense to three hits through seven innings while tossing his way to a career-high 15 strikeouts.
A matchup that proved to be exciting from the beginning, Venezuela opened the matchup with a lead-off solo home to take the lead before the arm of Gibbons took control with three-straight K’s to send the Eagles to the plate. A picture-perfect execution, Boom led things off with a single up the middle followed by a home run from Brennan DuCharme to hand the lead over to the Eagles. Hot at the plate, the U.S. offense plated another run after a single from Braden DuCharme and a walk from Gibbons led Wylie Baumer to knock one run in with a line drive single to extend the U.S. lead, 3-1. The second inning saw solid pitching and competitive glove work from both squads with the score holding steady until Team USA busted the game open again in the bottom of the third. Brennan and Gibbons got things started for the Eagles with a hit-by-pitch and a walk to set the stage for a pair of singles from Baumer and Brody Von Berge to plate two and improve the U.S. lead, 5-1. The bottom of the fourth saw the final U.S. run cross the plate after Logan Von Berge led the inning off with a hit-by-pitch and advanced to second on a sac-bunt to put himself in scoring position for Boom to send a hard ground ball up the middle to put the Eagles on top, 6-1. Gibbons proved dominant in the circle, fanning seven batters via strikeout through the final three innings to seal the gold medal win for the Eagles.
Team USA soared through its quest to the gold medal, accumulating a .324 batting average and a combined 47 hits while outscoring its opponents 45-9. Leading the U.S. at the plate was Braden DuCharme with a .500 batting average, followed by Baumer (.438) and Boom (.412). The U.S. pitching staff of Braden DuCharme, Jackson Jordan, Gibbons, Karson Martin, and Kyle Miller proved to be superior throughout the tournament, with one no-hitter and a combined 55 strikeouts, while limiting their opponents to nine runs through six games.
The U-18 Men’s Pan American Championship gold medal marks the first medal for the program since 1985, when the Junior Men’s National Team clinched a silver medal at the Junior Men’s World Cup held in Fargo, North Dakota. A true comeback story, the world-ranked No. 5 Team USA will enter the 2023 World Cup with redemption in mind after tallying a 2-6 record at the 2020 U-18 Men’s World Cup. Additional information on the 2023 WBSC World Cup will be announced at a later date.
To learn more about the U-18 Men’s National Team, visit USASoftball.com.