GAMEDAY: 18U National Team Takes on South Africa in World Cup Pool Play

First pitch set for 7:00 p.m. at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida


BRADENTON, Fla. – XXX World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup pool play continues on Sunday night, as Team USA will take on South Africa. First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m. ET at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida.


Stone Russell (USA) vs. Bryce McCleland (RSA)


Kevin McGonigle and Blake Mitchell both homered as the U.S. beat Korea, 8-3, on Saturday night at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida. McGonigle's homer came in the second at-bat of the night, setting the tone for the U.S. before the lead became two later in the opening inning. After Korea tied it at two in the second, Mitchell hit an opposite-field homer to give Team USA a lead it would not relinquish. Kendall George, Gavin Grahovac, and Aidan Miller also drove in runs for the stars and stripes.

Christian Rodriguez started and was one of five pitchers used by the U.S. in the win. Rodriguez lasted 3.2 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on one hit while striking out five. Bryce Eldridge, who got the final three outs, earned the win for Team USA.


The United States is 3-0 all-time against South Africa at the U-18 level. The two countries met most recently in 2019, with the U.S. winning 11-0 at the XXIV WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup. Team USA also beat South Africa, 27-1, in their first matchup in 2000.


  • United States (2-0)
  • Brazil (2-0)
  • Canada (0-1)
  • Korea (0-1)
  • Netherlands (0-1)
  • South Africa (0-1)


The 20-man 18U National Team roster features four players who have previously suited up for the stars and stripes. Aidan Miller is making his third appearance on a national team roster after playing for the 12U National Team in 2016 and winning a gold medal with the 15U National Team in 2019. Colt Emerson and Gavin Grahovac reunite after winning the 2017 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup together, and Blake Mitchell returns to the 18U National Team after competing for the squad in a friendship series against Canada in 2021.

The roster features 19 players who competed in the 2022 Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League. The PDP League, which was held from June 29-July 6 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, serves as the primary identification event for the 18U National Team, is an invitation-based development and assessment opportunity for high school players eligible for the following year’s MLB Draft.

Nine players on this year’s squad have previously participated in a USA Baseball National Team Development Program. Dylan Cupp and Miller participated at the 2018 14U NTDP, while Emerson and Grahovac both played at the 2019 14U NTDP. That duo also competed at the 2021 16U/17U NTDP, along with Max Clark, Cupp, Bryce Eldridge, Emerson, Grahovac, Adam Hachman, Miller, Mitchell, and Christian Rodriguez.


The 2022 18U National Team is managed by Denny Hocking, who brings 13 years of major league playing experience to the role. After spending 11 seasons with the Minnesota Twins and a season with both the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals, Hocking has spent time as an analyst and a coach in the professional ranks. In addition, he was a manager at the 2021 PDP League and 2021 18U National Team Trials. Hocking will be joined on staff by pitching coach Adam Moseley and assistants Roberto Vaz and Jack Wilson.


The 18U National Team won eight consecutive international tournament titles from 2011-2018, including winning four straight WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cups in 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2017. Currently the U.S. and Cuba are the only two countries to win four consecutive world championship titles at the U-18 level. In total, the program has won eight world championships. The U.S. most recently earned a silver medal at the 2019 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Gijang, South Korea.


The XXX WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup will be the first tournament held in the United States since 1995, when the event took place in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Overall, it will be the sixth U-18 Baseball World Cup held in the U.S., with the first one being held in Newark, Ohio, in 1981.


To follow along with all the action with the 18U National Team, be sure to follow @USABaseball18U on Twitter and @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.