MESA, Ariz. – Team USA took the field for the first time on Monday night and rode strong pitching to an 8-3 exhibition victory over Hamilton High School at Bell Bank Park in Mesa, Arizona.
It was the first of two exhibition games for the U.S. as it tunes up for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier from November 4-13 in La Paz and Los Cabos, Mexico.
Team USA’s pitching staff was the story for most of the night, as the group kept Hamilton off the scoreboard into the eighth and struck out 16 batters. Carson Messina (Summerville, S.C.) started the game on the mound and turned in two scoreless innings while striking out five, before Ford Thompson (Snellville, Ga.) followed with two of his own scoreless frames. Matthew Champion (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) then tossed an inning before Vaughn Neckar (Wildomar, Calif.) and Stunner Gonzales (Carlsbad, Calif.) combined for seven strikeouts in the final four innings to secure the win.
The U.S. offense was led by Casey Borba (Santa Ana, Calif.), who was 2-for-5 with a double, a home run, and three RBIs in the win. All three of Borba’s RBIs came in the seventh inning or later, as his first run-scoring hit was a two-out double to plate Macon Winslow (Hertford, N.C.) in the seventh. Then, with the U.S. up by two runs in the ninth, Borba delivered a pair of insurance runs with a two-run homer over the wall in left field to make it a 7-3 edge. Ty Southisene (Henderson, Nev.) added an RBI single later in the inning to make it an 8-3 score and was one of eight players to pick up a hit in the victory. PJ Morlando (Summerville, S.C.) was in the middle of the offensive output all night for the stars and stripes, scoring twice and drawing a pair of walks.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- After a PJ Morlando walk and Talan Bell single put runners on the corners, Daniel Arambula drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single to put the U.S. up 1-0 in the second.
- Talan Bell scored on an RBI fielder’s choice by Derek Curiel before Roman Martin roped a single up the middle to give Team USA a 3-0 lead in the second.
- A two-out double put a runner in scoring position for Hamilton in the second, but Carson Messina got an inning-ending strikeout to keep the U.S. advantage at three.
- Ford Thompson coaxed a two-out fly out after back-to-back Hamilton singles to escape trouble and maintain the three-run edge in the third for the stars and stripes.
- Hamilton’s Jeter Mauzey hit a leadoff double in the fifth, but Matthew Champion notched a pair of strikeouts with a runner on third as Team USA’s lead remained 3-0.
- A two-out rally propelled the U.S. to a five-run lead in the seventh, as Macon Winslow and Casey Borba had back-to-back run-scoring knocks to make the score 5-0 in favor of Team USA.
- Vaughn Neckar worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh by inducing two fielder’s choices and a strikeout to keep the lead at five.
- Hamilton struck for three runs in the eighth inning to get on the scoreboard, scoring on a wild pitch, infield single, and a sacrifice fly to trim its deficit to 5-3.
- With Macon Winslow on base and one out in the ninth, Casey Borba deposited a two-run blast over the left-field wall to add two insurance runs and put the U.S. in front by four.
- Ty Southisene singled home PJ Morlando with one out in the ninth to grow Team USA’s advantage to 8-3.
- Working around a leadoff single, Stunner Gonzales struck out the final three batters of the night to lock down the 8-3 victory.
- Every U.S. pitcher had multiple strikeouts in the victory, led by Carson Messina’s five punch outs. Vaughn Neckar followed with four strikeouts in his two innings of work.
- Vaughn Neckar was the only pitcher to not permit a hit for the stars and stripes, as he allowed just one baserunner to reach via walk in two scoreless innings.
- Team USA’s offense got nine hits from eight different players – and in addition to Casey Borba’s three-RBI night – had five players drive in a run. Daniel Arambula, Derek Curiel, Roman Martin, Ty Southisene, and Macon Winslow each had a hit and an RBI.
- Daniel Arambula was all over the box score for the stars and stripes, picking up a hit, an RBI, a run scored, a stolen base, and a walk.
- The U.S. drew seven walks in the win, paced by Noah Franco and PJ Morlando, who both reached base via two bases-on-balls.
- Team USA displayed stout defense behind its pitching all night long, not committing a single error in the victory.
Team USA concludes exhibition play against Gateway Community College on Tuesday, November 1. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. PT/5:30 p.m. ET at Gene Autry Park in Mesa, Arizona.