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Team USA Wins IBAF 18U World Baseball Championships

Team USA Wins IBAF 18U World Baseball Championships

SEOUL, South Korea – The 2012 IBAF 18U World Baseball Championships concluded with the gold medal game tonight as the USA faced off with its North American neighbor Canada. It was an exciting finish to what turned out to be a fantastic tournament put on by the folks in South Korea.

Cal Quantrill, son of former MLB pitcher Paul Quantrill, got the start for Canada. He had looked very good all tournament until the gold medal game. He didn’t pitch horribly bad, but his defense didn’t help him out at all. He went 2.1 innings giving up 4 runs (only 2 ER) on 4 hits.

On the other side of things was Ian Clarkin for the USA. This was Clarkin’s first start in the tournament after having pitched 4.1 innings in 2 relief appearances. Prior to the gold medal game he had not given up a run. He pitched great against South Korea in the 2nd game of the tournament for the USA but had to leave the game earlier than he’d hoped due to injuring his hand. On this day, Clarkin was good. He pitched 6 innings allowing only 2 runs on 4 hits to earn his first win of the tournament.

The offense was exciting as well. Canada got a run in the top of the 2nd to take the lead to the excitement of the Canadian rooting section. However, the lead didn’t last long as the USA came back quickly with a single from Reese McGuire (2-for-3) and a double from Chris Okey (2-for-3) in the bottom half of the inning. McGuire wasn’t going to score on the play, but interference by the third baseman as he rounded third gave him a free pass to the plate to score the go ahead run.

The US put together a solid inning in the bottom of the 3rd to take a 3-run lead. Garrett Williams (1-for-3) led of the inning with a walk. Ryan Boldt (2-for-5) followed that up utilizing his speed with a bunt single. After a sacrifice bunt put runners on 2nd and 3rd,  Jeremy Martinez (1-for-2)  singled to right to drive in Williams. The throw from Canada’s right fielder went all the way to the backstop allowing Boldt to score from 3rd base. Then it really got interesting.

Martinez had made a running error rounding 2nd base too far as the catcher picked up the ball. However, instead of running at the runner or throwing in front of him, Canada’s pitcher, who was backing up the throw home, threw behind Martinez to second base allowing him to easily move up to third.

Things really got interesting in the bottom of the 4th inning. Willie Abreu (0-for-1) led off the inning being hit by a pitch. After a single by Cavan Biggio (1-for-4) put runners on 1st and 2nd, USA performed a beautiful double steal. With runners at 2nd and 3rd and the infield in, Christian Arroyo (0-for-4) grounded into a fielder’s choice to third base. On the play, Abreu went on contact and bowled over the catcher. Catcher Christopher Shaw made a great play holding onto the ball tagging Abreu out at the plate.

On the play, Abreu was thrown out of the game because when he tried to run over the catcher he threw his arms upward toward the catcher’s head. I understand why the umpire threw him out, but I don’t think it was a malicious act. It was more of a natural reaction. Shaw did make a great play.

Some of the Canadian infielders didn’t take too kindly to Abreu’s acts and started walking toward him while talking loudly. The benches didn’t clear because the umpires saw what was happening quickly and did a great job of shutting it down quickly. That was good to see because it could have gotten out of hand had they not stepped in quickly.

Canada dodged bullet after bullet as the USA put runners on several more times only to hit into a double play by hitting the ball hard at someone.

The bottom of the 7th looked like it might be another one of those plays as the USA put 2 runners on. After a wild pitch put the two runners at 2nd and 3rd, Reese McGuire (2-for-3) doubled to the pitcher. Yes that is what it will say in the play by play if you read it online. McGuire hit a rocket back to the mound, but this time a play wasn’t made and the ball bounced off of the pitcher’s glove glancing into short left field just getting by the drawn in short stop. McGuire wound up with a double that barely left the infield and two runs scored on the play as the USA boosted its lead to 6-2.

That is where it would stay as Ryan Olson and Keegan Thompson came in to shut down the Canadian bats for the last 3 innings.

It was a well played game all around. Both teams have a lot to be proud about as they finish 1-2 in the standings.

The fans should also be mentioned as well. Both sides had vocal crowds, albeit not very large for having to travel so far. It was nice to see and hear the chants for both Canada and USA. I know it meant a lot to the players who traveled so far to play.

This was the first gold medal for the USA since 1999, and their 6th overall. This was Canada’s first silver and first medal since they won bronze in 2006.

Photo Courtesy IBAF.org

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About Eric Bynum
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.

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