LA PAZ, Mexico – The 18U National Team continues Super Round play at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier against Mexico. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. MT/9:00 p.m. ET at Estadio Arturo C. Nahl in La Paz, Mexico.
LAST TIME OUT
Team USA kicked off the Super Round on Thursday, defeating Panama, 5-2. The U.S. scored five quick runs in the first and held on despite a late Panama rally to pick up the win and remain unbeaten in tournament play. PJ Morlando and Macon Winslow both had RBI hits for the U.S. in its five-run first, where the squad picked up three of its five hits. Ty Southisene collected a single, stole a base, and scored a run in the win for the United States.
Talan Bell started for the stars and stripes and struck out three batters in three one-hit innings. Vaughn Neckar tossed two scoreless relief innings with three strikeouts to get credited with the win, escaping multiple jams with clutch punch outs. Matthew Champion and Mavrick Rizy also pitched an inning of relief out of the Team USA bullpen.
HISTORY AGAINST MEXICO
The United States owns a 22-4-0 record all-time against Mexico at the U-18 level, including a 5-3-0 record at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. The two last met at the 2022 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup, with the U.S. winning 7-5.
ATOP THE LEADERBOARD
Several Team USA players sit atop the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier statistical leaderboard. PJ Morlando has hit a tournament-high three home runs, followed by Noah Franco's two blasts. Michael Torres has drawn seven walks to put himself in a tie for first in that category, while PJ Morlando and Ty Southisene have both scored seven runs to tie for the tournament lead.
MORLANDO NEARS HISTORY
With three home runs in tournament play, PJ Morlando is now tied atop the leaderboard for most home runs in a WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier by a U.S. player. Morlando is tied with six former Team USA players, including Riley Greene and Bobby Witt Jr.
The U.S. has won each of the last five U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifiers it has competed in, earning gold in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016, and 2018 while compiling a 41-1 overall record. The program most recently captured gold in the event with a perfect 9-0 record in 2018, outscoring its opponents 131-27.
SUPER ROUND STANDINGS
United States (3-0)
Puerto Rico (1-2)
INSIDE THE ROSTER
Team USA’s 20-man roster features four members who have previously donned the stars and stripes. A trio of players reunite on the roster after earning spots on the 15U National Team: Carson Messina, Austin Nye, and Michael Torres. Additionally, Daniel Arambula (2017) and Torres (2018) played for the 12U National Team, both winning gold medals.
In total, 10 of the 20 players on the roster have participated in USA Baseball development programs, including eight players from the 2022 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP). Arambula, Talan Bell, Matthew Champion, Noah Franco, PJ Morlando, Vaughn Neckar, Ford Thompson, and Torres all participated at this year’s NTDP from July 25-29 in Cary, North Carolina. The roster also includes four players who participated in the 2022 Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League: Casey Borba, Roman Martin, Campbell Smithwick and Nazzan Zanetello.
MEET THE COACHES
Denny Hocking is back at the helm of the 18U National Team after guiding the U.S. to a gold medal at this summer’s WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida. The skipper, who owns 13 years of major-league playing experience, has spent time as an analyst, coach, and minor-league manager, and currently works as an analyst on Bally Sports West.
Team USA alum and 14-year MLB veteran Brad Penny returns to the staff as pitching coach after serving in the same role for the program in a friendship series against Canada in 2021. The World Series champ and two-time MLB All-Star led last year’s staff to a 1.53 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 59 innings. Former 12U National Team Manager and longtime Orange Lutheran High School skipper Eric Borba is on staff as an assistant coach, as well as New York Yankees’ minor-league coach James Cooper.