Team USA finishes the competition with a perfect 9-0 record, joining the 1989 squad (7-0) as the only two USA Baseball 18U National Teams to go undefeated in World Cup play.
The United States has now won four consecutive 18U world championships, including the 2012 and 2013 IBAF 'AAA' World Cups in Seoul, South Korea and Taichung, Taiwan, respectively, and the 2015 edition in Osaka, Japan. The only other country to have previously accomplished that feat is Cuba which did so from 1984-87 when the tournament was held annually.
The U.S. 18U squad also won the 2011, 2014 and 2016 COPABE Pan American Championships in Cartagena, Colombia, La Paz, Mexico, and Monterrey, Mexico, respectively, giving it international tournament titles in seven consecutive years.
This year's championship avenges the last time the USA Baseball 18U National Team was held off the podium in an international competition as it did not medal at the 2010 WBSC World Cup, which was also held in Thunder Bay.
The World Cup title is the ninth overall for Team USA which also brought back gold medals in 1982, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1999, 2012, 2013, and 2015.
Sunday's victory marked the 16th consecutive win for Team USA in WBSC U-18 World Cup action, including the final seven contests of the 2015 version of the event, held in Osaka, Japan.
As it did the entire tournament, the U.S. pitching staff set the tone, starting with Matthew Liberatore (Peoria, Ariz.). The 6-5 righthander pitched six sparkling innings, holding Korea to just four hits while walking two and striking out one to earn the win.
Cole Wilcox (Chickamauga, Ga.), Mason Denaburg (Merritt Island, Fla.), and JT Ginn (Brandon, Miss.) added one scoreless inning each out of the bullpen to complete Team USA's sixth shutout of the tournament.
In nine World Cup games, the U.S. pitching staff yielded only five runs - four earned - for a team ERA of 0.47. In 77.0 innings of play, 10 pitchers combined to strike out 101 batters and held opposing hitters to a .135 batting average.
After two scoreless innings to open Sunday's contest, the Team USA offense exploded for three runs in the third, four in the fourth, and one more in the fifth.
Tournament MVP Triston Casas (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) had the big blow with a mammoth two-out, two-run home run. He also had an RBI double as he notched three RBIs in the contest, giving him a team-high 13 for the tournament.
In addition to Casas' award, five fellow team members also earned honors from the WBSC. Brandon Dieter (Covina, Calif.) took home the award for the best ERA in the competition (0.00), while Ethan Hankins (Cumming, Ga.), Brice Turang (Corona, Calif.), Mike Siani (Glenside, Pa.), and Alek Thomas (Chicago, Ill.) were tabbed to the All-World Team.
Continue to follow @USABaseball18U on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the 18U National Team.
USA Baseball 18U National Team Director Matt Blood
(On winning the World Cup)
"The whole process has been very fulfilling. This is a great group of guys, players, coaches, and staff. Everything from the beginning to the end went very well. We could not be happier with the way we played and the way we handed ourselves. I'm very proud of this group."
(On the dominance of this year's team)
"It would be hard to find a team better than this one, at least statistically. Especially on the mound with what these pitchers did. They pounded the strike zone, they barely gave up any hits, and when they did they were singles. They took it personally that they were not going to give in at all. In doing so, it gave our team and our offense some breathing room and a chance to get comfortable knowing that our pitchers were going to keep us in the game. We didn't have to press offensively. It was a lot of fun to watch this group. To go undefeated through training and the tournament is something that is really hard to do."
(On USA Baseball sweeping the international competitions)
"It has been a good year for USA Baseball. It started with the World Baseball Classic and continued with our other programs, 12U, 15U, and now 18U. We are trying to get USA Baseball back to the No. 1 ranked organization in the world. Hopefully we are getting closer to that."
(On how to improve after this)
"We can continue to look at our processes and how we identify and develop players and try to continue to improve the continuity amongst our players and our coaches. We can help them improve and improve the game of baseball, in general. That is one of our goals, as well. We want to win gold medals but we also want to help develop our elite talent so that the game of baseball continues to thrive all the way up to the Major League level. That is what we will continue to do. We always want to get better."
USA Baseball 18U National Team Manager Andy Stankiewicz
(On winning the World Cup)
"It is never easy. We played like maybe it was, but it is not. Think about all of the time and effort that it has taken to put this team together. Think about what (18U National Team Director) Matt Blood has done, the whole USA organization, to bring these 20 young men together, for them to come together as a team, and to stay on course. I am so proud of all of them and the coaching staff. Coach Mosiello was unbelievable running our offense. Coach Ritchie getting hitters locked in. Ricky Meinhold did an unbelievable job with our hitters. And Coach Carter, our first base coach, with his enthusiasm and passion for these young men. We just came together and it is fun to see the fruits of labor come together like it did this week to win a gold medal."
(On the team playing its most complete game in the final)
"No doubt that was our most complete game. We pitched well from the very beginning and we knew this pitching staff was going to be nails, and they were. It was fun to watch our offense progressively get better and better, day-by-day, and then put together the performance we saw today in the gold-medal game against a good team. Korea is, obviously, a good team or they wouldn't have been in the final. I enjoyed watching our offense stay the course, get better, and save the best performance for last."
(On tournament MVP Triston Casas)
"He is so steady. He is unflappable. His personality is great for a baseball player because he doesn't get too high, he doesn't get too low. He just goes to the plate with intent and focus every time. It was great to see what he did today with that big homer and putting great at-bats together to just get us moving. Then he is a great defender. People see how big he is and I don't think they realize how good he is. When you spend time with him and watch him, he can really play defense. He deserved to win the MVP and we are all excited for him."
(On the team's defense)
"Our defense was unbelievable. We pitched so well that we knew if we didn't give any freebies we would be in a pretty good spot. Brice Turang made some incredible plays on defense. He is so athletic and moves so well to the ball. (Mike) Siani made some great diving plays and then our catchers (Anthony) Seigler and (Will) Banfield were dynamite. They did a great job of calling games and getting strikes on borderline pitches. Our defense was terrific."