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USA Baseball Reveals 2023 Award Winners

Trea Turner and Tyler Early earn Richard W. “Dick” Case Award honors
December 5, 2023
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today revealed its annual organizational award winners, recognizing the top athletes, coaches, performances, and staff from its 2023 national teams and development programs. For the first time in the organization’s history, two athletes–Trea Turner (WBC) and Tyler Early (12U)–were honored with the Richard W. “Dick”

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today revealed its annual organizational award winners, recognizing the top athletes, coaches, performances, and staff from its 2023 national teams and development programs. For the first time in the organization’s history, two athletes–Trea Turner (WBC) and Tyler Early (12U)–were honored with the Richard W. “Dick” Case Award, recognizing the athlete of the year.

Additionally, after leading Team USA to a silver medal at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Mark DeRosa earned Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year honors. Charlie Condon’s walk-off single for the Collegiate National Team secured the International Performance of the Year, while Alex Hugo was named the Sportswoman of the Year for the second time in her career.

Thanks to a gold-medal run at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup, the 12U National Team was awarded Team of the Year honors for the second consecutive season. Veronica Alvarez received the “Doc” Counsilman Science Award, while Rick Eckstein earned Coach Educator of the Year honors.

Dylan Crews (Golden Spikes Award), Josie Harding (Service Provider of the Year), Mike Kinkade (Volunteer Coach of the Year), and Rob Shabansky (Developmental Coach of the Year) round out the 2023 award winners.

“It is a great privilege to reward our stellar athletes, coaches, and staff for their incredible achievements in 2023,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s Executive Director and CEO. “We had another strong year in 2023, adding two more gold medals and a World Baseball Classic medal to our ledger. Before we turn our focus to continuing our international success in 2024, it is important for us to look back and recognize all of the individuals who contributed to another great year for USA Baseball.”

The complete list of the 2023 USA Baseball organizational award winners is as follows:

  • Richard W. “Dick” Case Award: Trea Turner (World Baseball Classic Team) & Tyler Early (12U National Team)
  • Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year: Mark DeRosa (World Baseball Classic Team)
  • Sportswoman of the Year: Alex Hugo (Women’s National Team)
  • International Performance of the Year: Charlie Condon (Collegiate National Team)
  • Team of the Year: 12U National Team (World Cup)
  • Developmental Coach of the Year: Rob Shabansky (15U National Team)
  • Volunteer Coach of the Year: Mike Kinkade
  • Coach Educator of the Year: Rick Eckstein
  • “Doc” Councilman Science Award: Veronica Alvarez (Women’s National Team)
  • Service Provider of the Year: Josie Harding
  • Golden Spikes Award: Dylan Crews (Louisiana State University)

For the first time in the organization’s history, two players earned the Richard W. “Dick” Case Player of the Year Award in 2023. Trea Turner led the U.S. offense at the World Baseball Classic all tournament long in March, batting .391 with a tournament-most five home runs to go along with 11 RBIs. Turner, who was named to the WBC All-Tournament Team, hit four home runs over the tournament’s final three games to help Team USA secure a silver medal. The first of Turner’s crucial blasts came in the quarterfinal round against Venezuela, when the U.S. shortstop crushed a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the eighth to lift the stars and stripes to the semifinals. Turner then hit two more home runs against Cuba to clinch the United States’ spot in the WBC Championship, becoming the first player in the tournament’s history to drive in four or more runs in consecutive games. He continued his tear in the title game, socking his fifth homer­ to tie for the most all-time in a single WBC. Overall, Turner’s five homers and 11 RBIs put him at the top of the Team USA World Baseball Classic record book in both categories.

Tyler Early played a key role in helping the 12U National Team win two gold medals in 2023 to earn Richard W. “Dick” Case Player of the Year Award honors. Playing in all 18 games for Team USA at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup and World Cup Qualifier, the two-way star batted .442 with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs while going 4-0 and posting a 2.68 ERA with 26 strikeouts on the mound. Early etched his name in the record books on three separate occasions in 2023, setting the program record for walks in a game (4), walks in a tournament (17), and strikeouts in a game (9). The Louisiana native cranked six homers in a five-game span in the Qualifier, also earning wins in a 25-24 thriller against Venezuela and a 10-0 shutout over Mexico to be named to the All-Tournament Team. At the World Cup, Early blasted four home runs, pitched five strong innings against Korea in a key Opening Round matchup, and earned the win in the gold medal game victory over Chinese Taipei. He captured the World Cup’s Most Valuable Player Award and secured a spot on the All-World Team.

Mark DeRosa was named 2023 USA Baseball Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year after he led Team USA to a silver medal at the World Baseball Classic in March. DeRosa’s team went 5-2 in the WBC, reaching the title game for the second consecutive tournament and securing its first silver medal in tournament history. The U.S. led all 20 competing nations in home runs (12), hits (72), and slugging percentage (.553) under DeRosa’s guidance, also ranking in the top three in doubles (13), runs (51), and walks (32). Following a tournament-opening win, the stars and stripes dropped their second contest before rattling off four straight victories to reach the title game against Japan. The U.S. outscored opponents 38-12 during its four-game winning streak, including outputs of 12 runs (vs. Canada) and 14 runs (vs. Cuba). With DeRosa at the helm, Mike Trout and Turner–the Richard W. “Dick” Case Player of the Year–earned spots on the WBC All-Tournament Team.

Appearing on the Women’s National Team for the fourth time in 2023, Alex Hugo had her best performance yet en route to being named the USA Baseball Sportswoman of the Year. Hugo compiled a .714 batting average (10-for-14) with a homer and nine RBIs in five games, reaching base at a .773 clip as Team USA went unbeaten in the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup Group Stage. The Olathe, Kansas, native was named the Most Outstanding Player of Group A after leading the tournament in numerous statistical categories, including hits (10), doubles (4), on-base percentage (.773), on-base plus slugging percentage (1.987), and runs (13). After opening the tournament with a hit and a run scored against Australia to help pick up a win, Hugo doubled twice in Team USA’s win over Korea, scored four runs in a victory against Canada, crushed a home run to help the U.S. defeat Hong Kong, and went 2-for-2 with two runs scored in a tournament finale win over Mexico. The four-time Team USA alum scored at least once in all five games, including two contests where she crossed home plate four times. This marks the second time Hugo has been named the USA Baseball Sportswoman of the Year after she previously earned the award in 2019.

With the U.S. trailing by a run and down to its final two outs against Chinese Taipei on the Fourth of July, Charlie Condon delivered to earn the International Performance of the Year. After a rain delay forced the final game of the series to be a seven-inning contest, Chinese Taipei rallied for three runs in the top of the sixth and took a one-run lead into the bottom of the seventh. Two straight singles and a passed ball put the tying and winning runs on base for Condon, who came to the plate and snuck a 2-2 pitch through the left side to bring home Seaver King with the winning run as Team USA secured a five-game sweep in the 20th USA vs. Chinese Taipei International Friendship Series.

After winning its second consecutive WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup gold medal, the 12U National Team was named the USA Baseball Team of the Year. The club went to Taiwan in July and posted a 7-2 record en route to securing its fifth world title, the most of any nation in the world at the U-12 level. Needing a win in their Super Round finale to secure a spot in the gold medal game, the stars and stripes stormed past Chinese Taipei to force another meeting with the host nation in the title game, where the U.S. notched a 10-4 victory to win gold. Team USA outscored opponents 120-37 in nine games, leading the tournament in runs, home runs (18), and hits (99). On the mound, the U.S. pitching staff struck out a tournament-most 60 batters in 49 innings pitched. The 12U National Team became the first program to win USA Baseball Team of the Year in consecutive seasons since the 18U National Team won it three times from 2012-2014.

Rob Shabansky managed the 15U National Team and spearheaded its run of dominance at the 2023 International Friendly Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to be named Developmental Coach of the Year. Shabansky began the effort in June, scouting players at the National Team Championships in both Arizona and North Carolina. Come September, the seasoned veteran and second-time U.S. manager held his team to a gold standard in its unbeaten run, as the stars and stripes scored 47 runs, maintained a .374 batting average, and posted a 1.16 team ERA over a span of five games. Shabansky brought an abundance of professional playing experience and prior USA Baseball coaching involvement to the table as the former University of Arizona standout and four-year pro ball veteran made his eighth appearance on a Team USA coaching staff in 2023.

Mike Kinkade served as hitting coordinator for the 13U/14U Athlete Development Program (ADP), was on staff at the 2023 MLB Draft Combine, and assisted at the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) Premier Women’s Winter Camp to earn Volunteer Coach of the Year. The 2000 Olympic gold medalist brought his plethora of baseball experience to the ADP, which prepares young players for future success and exposes them to high-level coaching. Bridging the gap between national teams, the ADP prepares athletes for the next steps of their career. Prior to his involvement with the ADP, Kinkade played an instrumental role at the 2023 MLB Draft Combine, as he worked with the nation’s top prospects to showcase their talent and prepare for the MLB Draft. Over the winter, Kinkade served as a coach at the PDP Premier Women’s Winter Camp, an offseason initiative designed to build connections and develop the skills of players across the country.

Coach Educator of the Year Rick Eckstein spent time coaching at the PDP League, the 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP), and the 18U National Team Training Camp in 2023. Eckstein brought professional experience to serve as Team Navy’s manager in the PDP League, a joint program assembled between MLB and USA Baseball to provide high school players eligible for the next year’s draft with a robust amateur experience. Later in the summer at the NTDP, Eckstein managed Team White at the National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. The veteran major-league hitting coach provided his expertise in what serves as an identification event for the 18U National Team and prepares players by giving them unique on- and off-field experiences, including educational seminars to help prepare for a career in baseball. Eckstein continued to play an integral role with USA Baseball in August, joining the USA Baseball Task Force to scout and assist with the selection of the final 20-man 18U National Team roster. The award marks Eckstein’s second USA Baseball honor; he also earned the “Doc” Counsilman Science Award for his work with the Olympic Team in 2008.

Five-time Team USA alum and three-time Women’s National Team Manager Veronica Alvarez is the 2023 “Doc” Counsilman Science Award recipient. Alvarez’s commitment to the use of scientific data and state-of-the-art technology paid great dividends for Team USA this past summer, as the U.S. went unbeaten over five games at the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup Group Stage while outscoring opponents 71-2.  Alvarez utilized data provided by PDP Performance Assessments and Rapsodo to assist in selecting the 20-woman Team USA roster, which batted .383 and owned a 0.62 ERA en route to clinching a spot in the World Cup Finals. Additionally, Alvarez helped organize and supported a pitching data seminar with players who attended the PDP Premier Women’s Winter Camp this past January. Alvarez now owns two awards from USA Baseball after she was named the 2019 Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year following a dominant gold-medal run with the Women’s National Team.

Josie Harding, who was named the 2023 Service Provider of the Year, traveled with three national teams this past season, worked multiple USA Baseball events, and exemplified what it means to be a service provider and represent Team USA. In addition to continuing her work as a certified athletic trainer at the National Team Championships in Arizona, Harding worked in the same role at the PDP Premier Women’s Winter Camp in January. Harding then served as the certified athletic trainer at three different national team events, first playing a key role at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in Aguascalientes, Mexico, where she helped Team USA win gold and qualify for the 2023 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup. The accomplished athletic trainer then contributed to the Women’s National Team’s unbeaten run at the WBSC Women’s World Cup Group Stage in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Harding wrapped up her Team USA summer by traveling with the 18U National Team to Taipei, Taiwan, as the U.S. competed in the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup.

Golden Spikes Award winner Dylan Crews was college baseball’s biggest star in 2023, leading LSU to a College World Series title while sitting near the top of the national leaderboard in most offensive categories. The outfielder reached base in all 71 games this past season and led the country in runs scored with 100. Crews owned a .567 on-base percentage, good for second in the nation, while his 110 hits also ranked second and his .426 batting average was third-best in the country. Crews­–who drew a nation-most 71 walks–also had a 26-game hitting streak spanning from February 19 to April 25. Additionally, the junior led many offensive statistical categories in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) en route to earning the conference’s Player of the Year Award for the second consecutive season. He batted .405 with a .545 on-base percentage to rank first in the conference in both categories, also drawing a conference-leading 27 walks in SEC games and tying for the league lead in hits with 45. Crews, who was drafted second overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2023 MLB Draft, was also a finalist for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) James E. Sullivan Award.

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MLB Awards Tracker: USA Baseball Alumni

Learn which Team USA alumni earned awards following the 2023 season
November 8, 2023
It's award season! With the 2023 Major League Baseball season in the books, it's time for players to earn recognition for their play throughout the six-month campaign. Follow along here as we recognize all of the USA Baseball alumni who earned MLB awards in 2023.

It's award season! With the 2023 Major League Baseball season in the books, it's time for players to earn recognition for their play throughout the six-month campaign. Follow along here as we recognize all of the USA Baseball alumni who earned MLB awards in 2023.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG

P Gerrit Cole (2009, 2010 Collegiate National Team): Despite finishing runner-up in American League Cy Young voting twice in his career, the Yankees’ ace kept his foot on the gas in 2023 and deservedly earned his first Cy Young award. Cole was unanimously voted as the league’s best pitcher as he led the AL in eight pitching categories, including innings pitched (209), WHIP (0.98) and ERA (2.63). Cole’s eleventh year in the majors was nothing short of first-class, as the right-hander led all pitchers in wins above replacement (WAR) and tossed two shutouts during the season. This run of dominance is not unusual for the USA Baseball alum, as he previously posted a 4-0 record with a 1.06 ERA and 46 strikeouts over six appearances for the gold-winning 2009 Collegiate National Team. The former UCLA standout later led the 2010 CNT in innings pitched (25) while notching a 0.72 ERA and 2-0 record alongside teammate and fellow AL Cy Young finalist, Sonny Gray.

NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

OF Corbin Carroll (2018 18U): After leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to their first World Series appearance since 2001, Corbin Carroll has been unanimously-named the 2023 National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year. The 16th overall pick in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft made an emphatic entrance into the big leagues in 2023, as Carroll made history in his first-year campaign by recording the first 25 home run, 50 stolen base season by a rookie and was further bolstered by being selected as an MLB All-Star. Throughout the season Carroll continued to prove why he batted leadoff, as he maintained a .285 batting average and a .868 OPS while knocking in 76 runs for Arizona. Not only did Carroll rank fourth in stolen base percentage among NL players, but he consistently made spectacular defensive plays while yielding only one error as he patrolled the outfield. In his time with Team USA, Carroll also showed flashes of being a star, as he impressively hit .500 and led the 2018 18U National Team in stolen bases en route to capturing gold at the U-18 Pan Am Championships.

TREVOR HOFFMAN NATIONAL LEAGUE RELIEVER OF THE YEAR

P Devin Williams (2023 WBC): For the second time in his young career, Devin Williams has been awarded the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year. The two-time All Star and former NL Rookie of the year has added another accolade to his resume after anchoring the Milwaukee Brewer bullpen in 2023. Williams held an 8-3 record and posted a 1.53 ERA in 61 appearances. As the Brew Crew’s go-to closer, Williams notched 36 saves, averaged 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings, and held opponents to a .129 batting average. In Williams’ time with Team USA, the right-hander dominated the bump, as he allowed only one hit in 3.1 innings while striking out six.

SILVER SLUGGER

C Adley Rutschman (2018 Collegiate National Team): Rutschman capped off a stellar sophomore season with his first Silver Slugger award after the catcher reached the 20 home run, 80 RBI mark as well as competing in the 2023 Home Run Derby. This is not Rutschman’s first time in the spotlight, as the catcher/designated hitter led the 2018 Collegiate National Team in batting average, slugging percentage, and doubles over a nine-game span.

SS Corey Seager (2010 16U): After earning World Series MVP and leading the Texas Rangers to its first World Series title in franchise history, Seager has now captured his third Silver Slugger award after hitting 33 home runs and maintaining a .327 batting average. He has not only seen success at the major league level, but also went undefeated and won gold with the 2010 16U National Team at the Pan Am Championships where he batted .514.

OF Kyle Tucker (2012 15U, 2023 WBC): Leading the league with 112 RBIs, the Houston Astros outfielder now adds a Silver Slugger to his resume. This marks back-to-back years Tucker has surpassed 100 RBIs and his third season in a row tallying at least 140 hits. Tucker started four games in left field for the 2023 Team USA World Baseball Classic team and also led the 2012 15U National Team in RBIs.

1B Matt Olson (2010 16U): Rounding off a career year at the plate, Olson’s first Silver Slugger award was well deserved. The Georgia native routinely batted cleanup and played a pivotal role in Atlanta’s lethal offense, slugging a career-high and league-leading 54 home runs while hitting the 100 RBI mark for the third time in his career. Paired with U.S. alum Corey Seager in the infield, Olson also led the 2010 16U National Team in home runs and RBIS.

SS Francisco Lindor (2009 16U, 2010 18U): Lindor’s dominance at the plate continued in 2023 and led to his third Silver Slugger accolade, as the Mets’ shortstop notched his fourth career 30+ home run season. On top of that, Lindor joined the 30-30 club after stealing 30 bases as well in addition to hitting 31 home runs. Lindor adds this achievement to the trophy case that also features gold medals won with both the 2009 16U and 2010 18U national teams.

OF Mookie Betts (2023 WBC): Betts executed one of his best season-performances to date, as the 10-year veteran and now six-time Silver Slugger winner slugged a career-best 39 home runs and recorded another 100 RBI season. Betts’ first and only appearance for the stars and stripes was one to be remembered, as he was one of two Team USA players in the 2023 World Baseball Classic to tally double-digits in the hit column with 10.

DH Bryce Harper (2008 16U, 2009 18U): Harper’s star-studded resume now includes three Silver Slugger awards. Although the designated hitter turned first baseman missed the first month of the season, Harper still recorded 21 home runs – marking the ninth time in his career he’s surpassed the 20 home run mark. Harper’s prolific career featured two stints with USA Baseball, as he played on the 18U National Team in 2009 and led the 16U National Team in home runs and RBIs in 2008.

GOLD GLOVE

3B Matt Chapman (2013 Collegiate National Team): Leading all American League third basemen with 12 defensive runs saved in 2023, Chapman took home his fourth career Gold Glove Award. A staple at the hot corner for the Blue Jays since arriving in Toronto before the 2022 season, Chapman leads all MLB third basemen with 92 defensive runs saved since debuting in 2017. Ten years ago, Chapman was the only player on the Collegiate National Team to play in all 23 games as the U.S. posted a 20-3 record that summer.

3B Ke'Bryan Hayes (2014 18U National Team): The first Pirates third baseman to ever win a Gold Glove, Hayes de-throned fellow Team USA alum Nolan Arenado in 2023. Hayes sat atop the leaderboard in nearly every statistical category for NL third basemen, including outs above average (17) and defensive runs saved (21). The success is nothing new for Hayes, who started all eight games of Team USA's undefeated, gold-medal run at the 2014 COPABE U-18 Pan American Championships.

2B Nico Hoerner (2011 14U, 2012 15U National Teams): Playing up the middle with USA Baseball alum Dansby Swanson, Hoerner took home his first career Gold Glove in 2023. The Cubs second baseman ranked 10th in all of baseball with 15 outs above average, also tying for the league lead with 12 defensive runs saved. Hoerner's trophy case now features a Gold Glove and a gold medal, as he led the way for the U.S. at the 2011 COPABE U-14 Pan American Championships before playing for the 15U squad in 2012.

SS Dansby Swanson (2014 Collegiate National Team): Paired with U.S. alum Nico Hoerner up the middle for the Chicago Cubs, Swanson captured his second Gold Glove in as many years. Swanson led all major league players in outs above average with 20, also leading all shorstops with 18 defensive runs saved and a fielding run value of 15. Before becoming a big league star, Swanson played an integral role on the 2014 Collegiate National Team, helping the U.S. win gold at Haarlem Baseball Week.

SS Anthony Volpe (2013 12U, 2016 15U, 2018 18U National Teams): Volpe capped off a strong rookie year by becoming the youngest shortstop to ever win a Gold Glove Award. The three-time Team USA alum started 157 games at shortstop for the New York Yankees in his first big-league season, racking up 15 defensive runs saved. Volpe is no stranger to gold, as he captured gold medals at the 2013 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup and the 2018 COPABE U-18 Pan American Championships.

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Baseball and Softball To Be on Olympic Programme for Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games

Announcement made by International Olympic Committee Session on Monday
October 16, 2023
MUMBAI, India – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session announced today that baseball and softball will be on the Olympic Programme for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. This marks the first time since the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that baseball and softball will be included in the prestigious event.

MUMBAI, India – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session announced today that baseball and softball will be on the Olympic Programme for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. This marks the first time since the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that baseball and softball will be included in the prestigious event.

“We are thrilled that America’s pastime will be a part of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games,” said USA Baseball CEO Paul Seiler. “The inclusion of baseball and softball will undoubtedly enhance the experience of the Games, as both sports have enjoyed global success in recent years and deserve to be celebrated on the international stage. It is exciting to be able to return to the place that kickstarted baseball being on the Olympic Programme, as well as a location that boasts numerous professional teams and some of the most iconic players in today’s game. USA Baseball takes great pride in showcasing the nation’s best players in international competition, and we can’t wait for the opportunity to do so on home soil.”

The game of baseball has numerous ties to the Los Angeles area. It was first featured as a demonstration sport in the Los Angeles Games in 1984 before being a part of the Olympic Games from 1992-2008. Additionally, it is home to two MLB Clubs–the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers–which include some of the world’s biggest stars.

Since its last inclusion in 2020, the game has enjoyed much success on a global stage, including record-breaking television and attendance numbers at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Additionally, it has grown exponentially at the amateur level with increased participation at youth world championships and other numerous international events.

USA Baseball has enjoyed tremendous success at the Olympic Games, accumulating six total medals in seven appearances, including two editions as a demonstration sport. Team USA won gold in both 1988 (Seoul) and 2000 (Sydney), earned silver at the Tokyo 2020 Games, and captured bronze in 1984 (Los Angeles), 1996 (Atlanta), and 2008 (Beijing).

Information regarding Team USA’s roster and the schedule of events for baseball at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games will be announced at a later time. Follow @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter/X for the latest news on USA Baseball.

*Indicates baseball was a demonstration sport

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Gold Medal Recap

Team USA Wins Second Consecutive World Championship With 10-4 Victory Over Chinese Taipei

U.S take home world-leading fifth WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup gold medal
August 6, 2023
TAINAN, Taiwan \- Team USA emerged victorious in the World Championship Final at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Sunday evening, defeating Chinese Taipei by a final score of 10-4 on the strength of a seven-run sixth inning. WIth the win, the U.S. took home

TAINAN, Taiwan - Team USA emerged victorious in the World Championship Final at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Sunday evening, defeating Chinese Taipei by a final score of 10-4 on the strength of a seven-run sixth inning.

WIth the win, the U.S. took home its fifth gold medal at the U-12 Baseball World Cup, and its second in a row after taking home the top prize in 2022. The others came in 2013, 2015, and 2017, when the team won the event on three consecutive occasions.

In contrast to what the final score would indicate, the gold-medal game started off as a textbook pitcher'sduel, with Team USA starter Tyler Early and Chinese Taipei starter Sheng-Kai Gau coming out of the gates looking sharp. The two hurlers traded zeroes through the first half of the ballgame, giving up just a pair of hits each while keeping the opposing hitters off balance throughout. The best chance for either team during this stretch came when Leyland Henry stepped up to the plate with a pair of runners on and one out in the top of the third and lined a 3-2 pitch into right field, but a violation on a headfirst slide by Nicholis Parker Jr. and a baserunning blunder by Early led to the final two outs of the inning being made at home plate with no runs coming across.

The first breakthrough of the game for Team USA came early in the fourth inning. After Bryant Ju and Zaylon Johnson led off the frame with a single and a walk respectively, Gavin Gomez came up big like he had so many other times throughout the tournament and lined a base hit up the middle to help the red, white, and blue strike first blood. Two batters later, Greyson Wuis helped add on a second run, lifting a sacrifice fly into center field that proved to be just deep enough to allow Gomez to score from third base to bring the score up to 2-0.

This lead wouldn't last long, though, as Chinese Taipei would fight back to even things back up in the bottom half of the inning. A walk and a single placed two runners on with one out against Early, and after the big lefty picked up a strikeout to put himself one out away from working out of trouble, Wei-Fan Shen laced a ball just past the outstretched glove of a diving Gomez in right field to bring home both and ignite the home crowd once again.

Now back in a tie game, Team USA got an jolt of adrenaline from an unlikely source: No. 9 hitter Raylen Hunter. The speedy center fielder led off the fifth inning with a base hit, and after stealing second right after, he came around to score the go-ahead run on an error from the opposing first baseman on a well-struck ball off the bat of Early.

With its narrow lead back intact, the stars and stripes never looked back, cobbling together another one of its patented offensive outbursts in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach. Things started quickly in the frame, with Johnson, Gomez, and Paris Head leading things off with a walk and two singles to load the bases with no outs. Johnson would come racing home to score the first run on a wild pitch, and immediately after, Wuis would pick up his second sacrifice fly of the day to make it a 5-2 game.

The line kept moving from here, with Hunter continuing his big day with a double in the gap to drive home another. Parker Jr. and Early followed this up with a hit-by-pitch and a walk to load the bases, setting Henry up for the biggest moment of the tournament. On the first pitch he saw, Henry unloaded on a hanging breaking ball, crushing it over the batter's eye for a grand slam that proved the be the knockout blow in the game.

Getting the last three defensive outs with this great cushion was a task given to Gomez, who came on in relief of Early starting in the fifth inning. After allowing a two-out, two-run home run that brought the score to 10-4, the righty fielded a high chopper on the third base side and fired over to first just in time, ending the game and securing the gold medal for Team USA.

When it was all said and done, the win on the mound went to Early, who finished his day with a final line of four innings, four hits, two earned runs, two walks, and six strikeouts. Gomez picked up his second save of the tournament for his two frames of work to close things out, striking out a pair while allowing just the two-run homer. For Chinese Taipei, the loss was handed to Lei Yeh, who gave up five hits and five earned runs in his 2.1 innings pitched.

On offense, the Team USA attack was spearheaded primarily by Henry and Gomez. The former went 3-4 with the aforementioned grand slam, while the latter went a perfect 3-3 with the one RBI to kick things off. Hunter also picked up a multi-hit game, going 2-3 with an RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base, and Wuis drove in a pair on his two separate sacrifice flies.

After the game's conclusion, Team USA picked up five different individual awards, highlighted by Early being named tournament MVP as well as earning a spot on the All-World Team as an outfielder. At the plate, Early slashed .381/.594/.952 with four home runs and 12 RBI in nine games, and on the mound, he pitched to a 2.08 ERA with a tournament-leading 15 strikeouts across his two starts.

Joining Early in the All-World outfield was Gomez, who went from not starting the opening game of the tournament to being one of the best hitters in the entire field in the span of 10 days. The Long Beach, Calif. native ended his run batting .636 (14-22), doing so while also clubbing four home runs and driving in 13 runs.

Johnson was the final Team USA representative on the All-World Team, earning his nomination at third base. The Stonewall, La. product hit .450 with a 1.310 OPS and nine RBIs at the plate, and in the field, he proved to be a standout by making a number of different highlight-reel plays whenever he got the opportunity.

Rounding out the awards for the U.S. was Head, who took home some hardware for leading the field in stolen bases. The shortstop swiped six bags in his eight games in the lineup, doing so while not being caught a single time.

Team USA Awards

  • MVP_:_ Tyler Early
  • Most Stolen Bases: Paris Head

VII WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup All-World Team

  • SP: Ya-En Chiu (Chinese Taipei)
  • RP: Lei Yeh (Chinese Taipei)
  • C: Yusuke Koma (Japan)
  • 1B: Kengo Wada (Japan)
  • 2B: Alexandro Ladera (Venezuela)
  • 3B: Zaylon Johnson (USA)
  • SS: Ezequiel Zamora (Venezuela)
  • LF: Gavin Gomez (USA)
  • CF: Gustavo Talmare (Dominican Republic)
  • RF: Tyler Early (USA)
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Paris CT Story

Team USA Clinches Gold-Medal Game Berth With Win Over Chinese Taipei

An 11-run outburst lifted the team in a must-win game
August 5, 2023
Cumulative Stats

Cumulative Stats

TAINAN, Taiwan - Team USA clinched a berth in the World Championship Final at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Saturday night, knocking off previously undefeated Chinese Taipei 11-3 to advance on a three-way tiebreaker with Venezuela and Japan.

The last game of the Super Round pitted the best offensive team in the tournament against the best performing pitching staff, and by the time the dust had settled, the Team USA bats had won the battle decisively. After falling into a two-run deficit early in the game, the team's hitters hung nine unanswered runs on the scoreboard, blitzing a unit that had not allowed more than three runs in a game all week and building a lead large enough to cruise to victory at the very end.

The catalyst for the stars and stripes' performance at the plate came in the fourth inning with the game tied at two. After three straight hitters managed to reach base safely with two outs, Tyler Early came up with the bases loaded and hammered a 1-1 breaking ball, lining it over the center field fence for a go-ahead grand slam.

This outburst gave starter Paris Head all the room that he needed to go to work on the mound, and he took advantage in a big way. The young righty allowed just two earned runs in his five innings of work, giving up five hits while striking out seven Chinese Taipei hitters en route to his first win of the event as a pitcher.

How It Happened

  • Chinese Taipei struck first in the ballgame, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the opening frame.
  • Team USA cut its deficit in half in the second, using a Ty Glaus sacrifice fly to put its first run on the board.
  • It would then even things up in the third, with a base hit by Leyland Henry and an error by the left fielder bringing home the tying run from second base.
  • The fourth inning was where Team USA did its most damage. After back-to-back two-out singles by Greyson Wuis and Micah De Los Reyes and a walk by Nicholis Parker Jr. loaded the bases, Early drove them all home with a line drive grand slam that brought the score up to 6-2.
  • The team would keep adding on from there, scoring three more runs in the fifth on three consecutive singles by Parker Jr., Early, and Henry, all with two outs once again.
  • Chinese Taipei would tack on a run in the bottom of the fifth, but a big strikeout by Head stranded two runners in scoring position to limit any further damage.
  • Team USA would get the run back and more right after, with RBI doubles by Wuis and Parker Jr. bringing its total up to 11 on the day.
  • Jett Schoolcraft shut the door for the red, white, and blue in the last half inning, sitting down the Chinese Taipei hitters with no trouble to secure the team's 11-3 victory.

Of Note

  • Early spearheaded the Team USA offense, going 2-4 with the grand slam and five RBIs in what was another stellar performance for the young outfielder.
  • The home run brought him into a tie for second on the tournament leaderboard at four, level with teammate Gavin Gomez and Japan's Daito Funayama and just behind Yusuke Koma, also of Japan.
  • Parker Jr. set the table in front of Early beautifully, reaching base four times and notching a team-leading three hits.
  • Head settled in nicely on the mound after the rough start, retiring 10 of 11 batters faced from the beginning of the second inning through the start of the fifth.
  • Of Team USA's 11 runs scored on the day, nine of them were driven in with two outs. This included all five of Early's RBIs and both of Parker Jr.'s

On Deck

Team USA will now play Chinese Taipei for a second game in a row on Sunday night, this time with a gold medal on the line in the World Championship Final. First pitch is set to take place at 6:30 P.M. local time/6:30 A.M. ET.

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Knudsen Story

Team USA Bats Quieted in Super Round Loss to Japan

The team mustered only two hits and two walks in six innings
August 4, 2023
Cumulative Stats

Cumulative Stats

TAINAN, Taiwan - Team USA suffered its first defeat of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Super Round on Friday morning, falling to Japan by a final score of 7-0 after failing to get anything done on offense against opposing starter Osuke Minakawa.

Minakawa was the star of the show throughout, blanking an American lineup that came into the game scoring the most runs per game of any team in the tournament by a significant margin. The young righty finished 5.1 scoreless innings on the mound, only allowing two hits and two walks while striking out eight Team USA hitters.

On the other side of the ball, the stars and stripes fell into a hole right from the outset thanks to some big hits by Japan. Shortstop Daito Funayama led off the ballgame with a solo home run into right field off of starter Bowen Landry, and in the fifth, Renji Tachibani lifted a two-run blast deep into left to put the game out of reach for good.

With the loss, Team USA fell to 5-2 on the tournament overall and 2-2 against its fellow Super Round opponents.

How It Happened

  • Japan jumped out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to the leadoff home run by Funayama.
  • Team USA's first chance of the game came in the bottom of the first, when a Nicholis Parker Jr. base hit and a Bryant Ju walk put two runners on with two outs. Minakawa escaped this jam unscathed, though, getting Zaylon Johnson to ground out sharply to first base to end the frame.
  • Japan would add on early in the second, using a leadoff error followed by two straight doubles to bring in another and chase Landry from the game.
  • Japan would keep going from there against reliever Julian Knudsen, continuing the rally with a two-RBI single by Masaya Yabuuchi and a sacrifice fly by Ren Mitsui to make it a four-run inning. The latter, however, turned into an unconventional triple play that spared Team USA any further damage after some confusion on whether left fielder Gavin Gomez caught the ball led to two separate runners leaving their bases early.
  • Team USA threatened again in the third with its best opportunity of the day, placing two more on base with one out after Parker Jr. was hit by a pitch and Tyler Early roped a base hit into left. Nothing came of it again, however, as Leyland Henry flew out and Ju struck out to strand the runners.
  • Japan added its sixth and seventh runs of the day in the fifth inning, when Tachibani got a hanging breaking ball on a 2-2 pitch and crushed it for the team's second homer of the day.
  • From there, Team USA went down quietly in the last inning, getting a runner on but failing to capitalize against Mitsui after he came on in relief for Minakawa with two outs to go.

Of Note

  • Parker Jr. was the lone Team USA hitter to reach base multiple times, leading off the first inning with a base hit and reaching via a hit-by-pitch in the third.
  • The only other hit of the day was recorded by Early, while the team's two walks were drawn by Henry and Ju.
  • Kingston George impressed in relief, allowing just one walk and no hits while striking out two in his 1.1 innings of work.

On Deck

Team USA will wrap up the Super Round on Saturday in a must-win game against Chinese Taipei, who remain undefeated as of Friday afternoon. The start of the game is scheduled for 6:30 P.M. local time/6:30 A.M. ET.

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Venezuela Story

Team USA Opens Super Round With Convincing Victory Over Venezuela

An eight-run third inning proved to be the difference in the game
August 3, 2023
Cumulative Stats

Cumulative Stats

TAINAN, Taiwan - In its first game of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Super Round, Team USA picked up a convincing win over Venezuela, using a steady stream of offense to cruise to an 11-4 victory.

The big outburst from the stars and stripes came in the 3rd inning, when the offense put eight runs on the board to turn an early deficit into a sizable lead. The frame was punctuated by two home runs off the bats of Team USA hitters, with Tyler Early getting things going with a three-run shot and Bryant Ju following that up with a two-run blast two batters later.

Venezuela had chances to get back into things late in the game, loading the bases in both the fourth and the fifth innings. On both occasions, though, USA pitchers Gavin Gomez and Michael Ohman were able to work through the trouble with minimal damage done, keeping the team's advantage at a comfortable distance throughout.

The win marked the third for Team USA over Venezuela this year, with the other two coming at the World Cup Americas Qualifier back in May. It also helped the team improve to 5-1 on the tournament overall, and most importantly, 2-1 against teams also in the Super Round.

How It Happened

  • Gomez got off to a great start on the mound, retiring the side in order on just five pitches in the first.
  • Team USA struck first in the second, putting the opening run on the board thanks to a double off the top of the wall by Zaylon Johnson.
  • Venezuela answered back with two runs in the top of the third, using three consecutive hits to take its first lead of the day.
  • The red, white, and blue responded with eight runs in the bottom half of the inning to get the lead right back and then some. Early's three-run home run erased the deficit, and Ju's two-run longball extended the advantage.
  • Another run came around on a bases-loaded walk by Nicholis Parker Jr., and the final two scored after an error on a hard hit ground ball by Early.
  • Venezuela loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, but only managed to push across one run after a double play and a flyout induced by Gomez and reliever Michael Ohman ended the threat.
  • Ohman then helped out his own cause at the plate, lining a two-run home run over the wall in right field to get the run back.
  • Venezuela again loaded the bases with one out in the fifth after three straight walks, but it again only scratched across a lone run after two straight groundouts.
  • This would be the team's final chance, as Ohman shut things down in the sixth without any trouble to secure the win for Team USA.

Of Note

  • Team USA sent 13 players to the plate in the third inning and recorded seven hits, six of which came in the first six plate appearances of the frame.
  • Nine different players for Team USA recorded at least one hit. Oddly enough, however, only Johnson managed to post a multi-hit game.
  • The team's three home runs today increased its total on the tournament to 16, easily the most in the field. Japan owns the next closest total at 10.
  • Gomez and Ohman combined to give up just five hits in their six innings of combined work on the mound.

On Deck

  • Team USA will continue the Super Round on Friday in a matchup against Japan (1-2), the No. 3 seed from Group A. The game is set to start at 11:00 A.M. local time/11:00 P.M. ET.
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Gomez MW

Team USA Uses Offensive Explosion to Down Czechia in Final Game of Pool Play

The team broke out for 25 runs in three innings
August 2, 2023
Cumulative Stats TAINAN, Taiwan - Team USA ended pool play in style at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Wednesday, using an explosion of offense to defeat Czechia 25-0. As the final score would indicate, the Team USA offense came out of the gates swinging,

Cumulative Stats

TAINAN, Taiwan - Team USA ended pool play in style at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Wednesday, using an explosion of offense to defeat Czechia 25-0.

As the final score would indicate, the Team USA offense came out of the gates swinging, putting 14 runs up on the board in the game's opening frame. The team would slug four home runs in the inning, with two coming off the bat of Gavin Gomez -- a two-run shot in his first at-bat and a grand slam in his next -- and two coming in the form of back-to-back longballs by Nicholis Parker Jr. and Tyler Early.

After this initial outburst, the bats would keep it rolling, scoring two in the second and nine in the third to bring the grand total up to 25. Thirteen different American players recorded at least one hit in the game when it was all said and done, including six that had two or more.

On the pitching side of things, the trio of Bowen Landry, Julian Knudsen, and Kingston George combined to throw a four inning no-hitter. Landry got the start and tossed a perfect first with two strikeouts, Knudsen worked the next two and punched out three of his own, and George finished the job with a clean fourth inning.

With the win, Team USA officially clinched its spot in the Super Round, finishing as the second seed in Group B. It will now face off against the three teams that advanced out of Group A -- Chinese Taipei, Venezuela, and Japan -- over the coming days.

How It Happened

  • Landry started the game on the mound and worked a 1-2-3 first inning with two punchouts.
  • The Team USA bats would do major damage in the bottom of the first, scoring 14 runs to take complete control of the game. The team sent 19 hitters to the plate in the inning and recorded 13 hits, punctuated by the four home runs from Gomez, Parker Jr. and Early.
  • The stars and stripes added on two more in the second, using a home run by Leyland Henry and a sacrifice fly by Micah De Los Reyes to increase its lead to 16.
  • Knudsen came on in relief of Landry after the opening frame and worked two clean innings while striking out three, only giving up a lone baserunner on an error.
  • The offense would finish the day by putting nine more runs on the board in the third, with five different hitters picking up at least one RBI during that stretch.
  • George came on to wrap things up on the mound, striking out two of his own and finishing off the four-inning no-hitter.

Of Note

  • Leading the way in the hits column for Team USA was Henry and Boston Targac, who both picked up three knocks apiece. Four other players joined those two in having multiple hits, with those being Parker Jr., Gomez, Ty Glaus, and Greyson Wuis.
  • The trio of Landry, Knudsen, and George combined to strike out seven of the 14 batters they faced. The only traffic on the bases against them came in the form of an error and a walk.
  • With his big day, Gomez moved into a tie atop the overall home run leaderboard for the tournament, level only with Yusuke Koma of Japan. His six RBIs on the day also helped move him into sole possession of first in that category with 13.
  • Team USA scored 88 runs across five games in pool play, good for an average of 17.6 per game.

On Deck

Team USA will now head into the Super Round, opening things up with a matchup against Venezuela -- the second seed in Group A -- on Thursday. First pitch for the game is scheduled for 2:30 P.M. local time/2:30 A.M. ET.

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Early Korea

RECAP: Early's Gem, Henry's Blast Lift Team USA to Win Over Korea

The stars and stripes now sit at 3-1 on the tournament
August 1, 2023
TAINAN, Taiwan \- Powered by a stellar start on the mound from Tyler Early and a clutch home run off the bat of Leyland Henry, Team USA picked up a big victory over Korea at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Tuesday evening by a

TAINAN, Taiwan - Powered by a stellar start on the mound from Tyler Early and a clutch home run off the bat of Leyland Henry, Team USA picked up a big victory over Korea at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Tuesday evening by a final score of 5-1.

Handed the ball to kick things off, Early showcased electric stuff throughout the entirety of the game. The tall lefty struck out nine opposing hitters during his 4.2 innings of work, the highest single-game total of the tournament so far, and he did so while allowing just a pair of singles and a lone earned run in his final frame of work.

Despite this effort, things remained in a scoreless tie throughout the first half of the ballgame, as Korea starter Jinwoong Lee managed to match Early's performance and kept the Team USA lineup searching for answers. The big breakthrough for the red, white, and blue came in the fourth inning, though, when Henry came up to the plate with two on and none out and demolished a hanging breaking ball for a go-ahead three-run homer that proved to be the difference in the game.

With the win, Team USA improved its record in the tournament to 3-1, avenging its loss from the night before and setting it up nicely headed into its final game of pool play on Wednesday against Czechia.

How It Happened

  • The early goings of the game were devoid of any offense, as Early and Lee took turns putting zeroes up on the scoreboard through the first three innings. Korea had a few chances, stranding a runner on third two separate times during this stretch, while the Team USA bats were held off the basepaths competely throughout their first turn through the lineup.
  • The stars and stripes finally drew first blood in the bottom of the fourth. After Nicholis Parker Jr. recorded the team's first hit and Early was hit by a pitch to put a pair on, Henry unloaded for a titanic three-run home run to give Team USA control of the game.
  • Korea jumped on the board in the top of the fifth, scoring its first run of the game on a balk by Early to cut the lead down to 3-1.
  • Team USA responded to this in quick order, putting up two in the bottom half of the frame on a perfectly executed squeeze play by Parker Jr. and a bases-loaded walk by Zaylon Johnson.
  • Paris Head locked down the save on the mound in the last inning, aided by an unbelievable diving catch in right field by Early for the final out of the game.

Of Note

  • With the win, Team USA moved into a three-way tie with Korea and the Dominican Republic atop Group B.
  • Early's nine strikeouts set a new single-game 12U National Team record, besting his own previous high of eight achieved during the World Cup Americas Qualifier back in May.
  • Henry's three RBIs on the day brought him up to a total of nine for the tournament, trailing only Raiyer Gonzalez of the Dominican Republic among all active players.
  • Trailing just behind him is Johnson, who picked up his eighth with his bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning.

On Deck

Team USA closes out pool play on Wednesday, squaring off against Czechia in a makeup of last Friday's postponement. The game is set to begin at 2:30 P.M. local time/2:30 A.M. ET.

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Early Story

RECAP: Tough First Inning Dooms Team USA in Loss to Dominican Republic

Six-run early deficit proved to be too much to overcome
July 31, 2023
TAINAN, Taiwan \- Team USA suffered its first loss at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Monday evening, falling to the Dominican Republic 13-9 after a tough first inning put it in a hole too deep to dig out of. The ill-fated opening frame came

TAINAN, Taiwan - Team USA suffered its first loss at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Monday evening, falling to the Dominican Republic 13-9 after a tough first inning put it in a hole too deep to dig out of.

The ill-fated opening frame came with a lot of unforced errors for Team USA. Five walks and a hit-by-pitch put traffic on the basepaths early and often, and a pair of errors and three different wild pitches kept the line moving and the defense on the field all throughout. By the time the dust had settled, the Dominican Republic had put six runs up on the scoreboard, leaving the red, white, and blue playing catch-up for the entirety of the game.

Team USA did manage to fight back despite this, bringing the deficit down to four on two separate occasions, but at the end of the day, it proved to be just too much to overcome. With the loss, the team fell to 2-1 in pool play, good for a tie for second place in Group B behind undefeated Korea.

How It Happened

  • The Dominican Republic put six runs up on the board in the bottom of the first inning, taking advantage of five walks and two errors to jump out to a big early lead.
  • It would add another run in the second, scoring on a wild pitch to make it 7-0.
  • The Team USA bats finally got going in the third, with Tyler Early driving in the first run of the game with a base hit and then later scoring from third on a wild pitch.
  • They threatened to do more damage in the fourth, loading the bases with two outs, but a successful back-pick at third base cut the golden opportunity short.
  • The Dominican Republic took advantage of this, increasing its lead to 9-2 on a monster two-run home run by Kelvin Reyes.
  • The stars and stripes answered back soon after, though, scoring three runs in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by Zaylon Johnson and a two-run blast by Gavin Gomez to cut the deficit down to four.
  • This wouldn't last long, though, as Gustavo Talmare crushed a one-out grand slam in the sixth to break the game wide open once again.
  • A grand slam by Johnson in the final frame got those runs back, but Railyn Cabrera closed out the win for the Dominican Republic two batters later.

Of Note

  • The loss snapped the 12U National Team's winning streak in international competition at 23 games, a stretch that dated all the way back to 2019.
  • Johnson and Gomez continued their torrid starts to the tournament at the plate, with the former going 2-4 with the grand slam and five RBIs and the latter going 2-4 with his own homer and two RBIs. Johnson now sits at a .714 batting average and a 2.064 OPS, and Gomez at .778 and 2.356, respectively.
  • Early also stayed hot with the bat, reaching base three times in his four plate appearances via a hit and two walks.

On Deck

Team USA will try to get back in the win column on Tuesday against Korea, with first pitch set for 6:30 P.M. local time/6:30 A.M. ET.

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IMG_7253-e-social

RECAP: Late Rally Propels Team USA to Narrow Victory Over Panama

Three-run fifth inning helped break a 3-3 tie late in the game
July 30, 2023
TAINAN, Taiwan \- Fresh off the most lopsided win in 12U National Team history yesterday, Team USA prevailed in a nailbiter on Sunday at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup, using a two-out rally in the fifth inning to edge past Panama by a final score

TAINAN, Taiwan - Fresh off the most lopsided win in 12U National Team history yesterday, Team USA prevailed in a nailbiter on Sunday at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup, using a two-out rally in the fifth inning to edge past Panama by a final score of 6-4.

After going back and forth throughout the entirety of the contest, the stars and stripes finally broke through for the knockout blow late in the game. With runners on the corners and two outs in the fifth, Zaylon Johnson came through with the biggest hit of the afternoon, poking a base hit through the right side to break a 3-3 tie and give the team a lead it would not relinquish.

Panama threatened to even things back up in the sixth and final frame, bringing the tying run into scoring position with two outs, but reliever Gavin Gomez slammed the door shut with a clutch strikeout to secure Team USA's second victory in as many games.

How It Happened

  • The Team USA bats picked up right where they left off yesterday, jumping on the board in the first inning and leveling the score at one thanks to a sacrifice fly off the bat of Leyland Henry.
  • They kept things rolling from here, scratching across two more the very next frame. Back-to-back doubles by Johnson and Michael Ohman brought home the first, and a bases-loaded walk by Tyler Early scored the second.
  • Panama got its comeback effort going shortly thereafter, using a two-RBI base hit in the top of the third to even things up at three.
  • Each team held serve until the bottom of the fifth, when Johnson's single gave the red, white, and blue a 4-3 lead.
  • Following this, two straight balks with a runner on third brought home a pair of much-needed insurance runs.
  • A two-out throwing error in the top of the sixth helped Panama push across one more run and put two runners in scoring position, but Gomez came through in the big moment to seal the deal for Team USA.

Of Note

  • Johnson was the star performer on the offensive side of things for Team USA, going 2-2 with a double, a walk, and the go-ahead base hit.
  • Gomez also had a standout performance, pitching the last three innings and picking up the win in relief while allowing just a lone unearned run and striking out four. In addition to this, he also went 2-2 at the plate, keeping his perfect 1.000 average on the tournament intact.
  • Ohman got the ball to start the game on the mound, finishing three innings while giving up three earned runs while punching out three. In the box, he went 1-3 with a double and an RBI.
  • The win extended the 12U National Team's winning streak in international competition to 23 games, dating back to 2019.

On Deck

Team USA will continue its run through pool play on Monday, squaring off against the Dominican Republic at 6:30 P.M. local time/6:30 A.M. ET.

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Gomez MW

RECAP: Team USA Opens World Cup With Record-Setting Win Over New Zealand

The team's 43 runs scored marks a new single-game high
July 29, 2023
TAINAN, Taiwan \- After having Friday's game postponed due to weather, Team USA opened up play at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Saturday with a bang, downing New Zealand by an eye-popping final score of 43-1. The team's 43 runs scored easily set a

TAINAN, Taiwan - After having Friday's game postponed due to weather, Team USA opened up play at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Saturday with a bang, downing New Zealand by an eye-popping final score of 43-1.

The team's 43 runs scored easily set a new single-game record for any 12U National Team, breaking the high of 29 set during the World Cup Qualifiers gold-medal game against Venezuela in May.

The U.S. offense started things off right from the opening pitch, scoring three runs in the first inning to take an early lead. After Tyler Early and Leyland Henry reached base via a walk and a single respectively, Bryant Ju came up clutch with two outs, singling up the middle to bring home both. The young designated hitter would add on himself as well, scoring on a wild pitch soon after.

From here, the floodgates opened up in a big way, starting with an 11-run second inning. The frame was bookended by the first home runs of the tournament for any team, with Early smoking a solo shot to the opposite field with no one out and Henry crushing a three-run blast in his second at-bat of the inning.

The red, white, and blue managed to somehow go above and beyond this in the third, continuing its offensive onslaught by putting up 20 more runs on the scoreboard. Ju got things going with a home run of his own to lead the inning off, and two batters later, Gavin Gomez joined the party with a two-run shot of his own. The line kept moving after this, and once Ju came back up to the plate with the bases loaded, he uncorked another long ball, this one a grand slam that brought his RBI total on the day to a team-leading seven.

On the mound, Team USA got a great tandem effort from Bowen Landry and Jett Schoolcraft. Landry started the game and worked the first two innings, striking out four while not allowing any hits. WIth the lead well beyond comfortable after that, Schoolcraft came in for the last two frames, conceding just a lone unearned run and punching out five batters of his own.

How It Happened

  • Bryant Ju opened the scoring with a two-out, two-RBI base hit in the first, and followed that up by scoring himself on a wild pitch.
  • Bowen Landry worked around a pair of walks in the bottom of the first to keep New Zealand off the board.
  • The team then scored 11 in the second, starting with an RBI groundout by Nicholis Parker Jr. and solo home run by Tyler Early.
  • After this, two hits, two wild pitches and a balk scored six more, and a three-run home run by Leyland Henry capped the inning off.
  • The third inning saw 20 runs come across the plate, starting with a solo shot by Ju and a two-run blast by Gavin Gomez.
  • Two more would score on a base hit by Henry and a bases-loaded walk by Paris Head, and immediately after, Ju smoked a grand slam for his second long ball of the inning.
  • The remaining runs in the inning would be driven in via eight hits and one more bases-loaded walk. Included in this was an RBI single by Ty Glaus, which brought the record-breaking 30th run across the plate.
  • To finish off the game, the team scored nine more in the fourth on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, a sacrifice fly, and four hits.

Of Note

  • With the win, Team USA remains unbeaten in opening games at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup, improving to 6-0 all-time.
  • Ju lead the team with seven runs batted in, with Gomez and Henry following him up with five apiece.
  • In the hits category, Henry paced everyone with four. Head, Ju, and Gomez each recorded three, and Boston Targac, Jacob Miller, and Micah De Los Reyes all left with two.
  • Landry and Schoolcraft combined to record nine of their 12 outs on the mound via the strikeout while also allowing just one hit on the day.

On Deck

Team USA is back in action tomorrow against Panama, with the game set to kick off at 11:00 A.M. local time/11:00 P.M. ET.

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Rain Delay

Team USA vs. Czechia Game Postponed

July 28, 2023
Due to the ongoing weather conditions brought about by Typhoon Doksuri, Team USA's opening game of pool play at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup in Taiwan against Czechia was postponed. The game will now be played at a date and time yet to be determined.

Due to the ongoing weather conditions brought about by Typhoon Doksuri, Team USA's opening game of pool play at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup in Taiwan against Czechia was postponed. The game will now be played at a date and time yet to be determined.

Stay tuned to @USABaseball12U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news on the 2023 12U National Team.

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Gerlach

FEATURE: 12U National Team Finishes Preparations With World Cup Opener On Deck

July 25, 2023
With the opening game of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup rapidly approaching, the USA Baseball 12U National Team spent the last week working hard on its preparations for repeating last year's gold-medal winning performance. The 18 players chosen to be on the roster late last

With the opening game of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup rapidly approaching, the USA Baseball 12U National Team spent the last week working hard on its preparations for repeating last year's gold-medal winning performance.

The 18 players chosen to be on the roster late last month all congregated in West Hills, California, on Friday, kicking off a four-day stretch of training that marked the first time the group took the field together as an official team. Over the course of the weekend, they participated in a number of different activities between the lines under the hot summer sun, including individual positional work, team-oriented drills, intrasquad scrimmages, and an exhibition game on Sunday against Braves Baseball Academy, a local travel organization with a few players that have previously suited up for Team USA.

This stretch was intended to be demanding for the young players as they ready themselves for the biggest challenge of their baseball careers to date, and in the eyes of manager Troy Gerlach, they passed with flying colors.

“These guys, they’ve really surprised us," Gerlach said. "They’ve done a really good job. We’ve thrown a lot at them these last few days, and they keep asking for more. We’ve been out here for long days these last few days. It’s exciting to see how these guys are going to react in a game situation, but we have all the confidence in the world that they’re going to be just fine.”

Throughout the entire training session, Gerlach and the rest of his coaching staff consistently preached a few key themes for the team to absorb before heading off to Taiwan, with the most overarching message being getting past the fear of failure that will certainly come with playing in such a high-pressure situation. The point of this, in the manager's eyes, is to make sure his guys stay loose and perform to the abilities they have shown throughout the whole process to date.

"We’re just trying to get them to understand that it’s okay to make mistakes," Gerlach said. "We’re not going to be perfect, we’re not going to play perfect. It’s going to be a hostile environment over there, especially when we play Chinese Taipei and there are 10,000 people there. We just want to get them to understand that it’s okay to make a mistake and still play hard, compete, and play for each other.”

The other main point of emphasis was keeping the energy level high at all times, something that the staff led the charge in doing all weekend long. From the point of view of the coaches, doing this when the games start to count will help maintain the players' belief in each other, especially when the going starts to get tough later in the tournament.

“Energy is contagious," Gerlach said. "Whether you’re playing well or not playing well, if somebody has energy, it’s infectious to the rest of the team. We have to have that, because it’s going to be us versus the world.

"There’s going to be 18 people in the dugout, four coaches, and the parents in the stands rooting for us, and the rest of them are going to be against us and wanting us to fail. We have to be there for each other, and that’s where that energy helps us get through those tough moments.”

With all of this preparation now in the rearview mirror, the team will now make the long trek to Taiwan on Wednesday afternoon. It will play its first game of the World Cup on Friday, July 28, at 2:30 A.M. ET against Czech Republic.

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RECAP: Team USA Drops Exhibition Slugfest in Final World Cup Tune-Up

July 24, 2023
WEST HILLS, Calif. \-\- The 12U National Team competed in a 10-inning exhibition game on Sunday afternoon in its final tune-up before heading to Taiwan for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup, dropping a slugfest to Braves Baseball Academy -- a team comprised of local travel

WEST HILLS, Calif. -- The 12U National Team competed in a 10-inning exhibition game on Sunday afternoon in its final tune-up before heading to Taiwan for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup, dropping a slugfest to Braves Baseball Academy -- a team comprised of local travel players, some of whom have played for Team USA in the past -- by the final of 25-13.

While not much went right for the stars and stripes on the pitching side of things, the offense showed its ability to put runs up on the board in bunches, continuing a trend that started back at the World Cup Americas Qualifier in May. After being held off the board for the first three innings of the game, the group broke through in the fourth, scratching across five runs to cut into its early deficit. Nicholis Parker Jr. got things going during this stretch with an RBI base hit up the middle, and to cap things off just a few batters later, Leyland Henry smoked a ball into right-center field to drive home two of his own.

From here, the star of the show for the red, white, and blue turned out to be Bryant Ju, who made his presence felt immediately in his first plate appearance of the day in the sixth inning. With two runners on and two outs, the young catcher smoked a ball into dead center for a three-run home run, his first as an official member of the 12U National Team after knocking two out of the park during qualifiers.

As it turned out, this would not be it for Ju, as the righty managed to repeat this feat just a few frames later. On the first pitch he saw in the ninth inning, Ju went yard yet again, lining the first pitch he saw into the trees in right field for his second home run of the game and his team-leading fifth RBI.

On Deck

Team USA will continue its training for a final day on Monday before departing for the WBSC U-12 World Cup on Tuesday, July 25. The team will play its first game of the tournament on Friday, July 28, at 2:30 A.M. ET against Czech Republic.

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Nineteen USA Baseball Alumni Selected in First Round of 2023 Major League Baseball Draft

July 10, 2023
CARY, N.C. – Nineteen USA Baseball alumni were selected in the first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Sunday night, including first overall pick Paul Skenes. USA Baseball has now had 569 total athletes drafted in the first round since 1972, and 2023 marks the 20th time in

CARY, N.C. – Nineteen USA Baseball alumni were selected in the first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Sunday night, including first overall pick Paul Skenes. USA Baseball has now had 569 total athletes drafted in the first round since 1972, and 2023 marks the 20th time in the last 23 years that the first overall pick played for Team USA.

Skenes (No. 1, Pittsburgh Pirates) is the 37th USA Baseball national team alumnus to be selected first overall and the second consecutive player to do so, joining last year’s top pick, Jackson Holliday. Other first overall picks who have donned the red, white, and blue include 2023 MLB All-Stars Gerrit Cole (2011), Dansby Swanson (2015), and Adley Rutschman (2019). Pittsburgh has now selected a USA Baseball alum four of the five times it has owned the first pick of the Draft (Jeff King [1986], Kris Benson [1996], Bryan Bullington [2002], and Cole [2011].

The next seven picks following Skenes were also USA Baseball alumni, marking the most consecutive alumni selections to open an MLB Draft since 2007 (nine). Four-time Team USA alum and 2023 Golden Spikes Award winner Dylan Crews went second overall to the Washington Nationals, followed by Max Clark (No. 3, Detroit Tigers). Wyatt Langford was the Texas Rangers’ pick at No. 4, and Walker Jenkins went to the Minnesota Twins at fifth overall.

A pair of 2022 Collegiate National Team members went with the next two picks, as Jacob Wilson went sixth to the Oakland Athletics and the Cincinnati Reds took Rhett Lowder with the seventh pick. Two-time Team USA alum Blake Mitchell capped the eight-consecutive pick streak, going eighth overall to the Kansas City Royals.

Four Team USA alumni were then taken off the board consecutively beginning with the 14th pick, which saw two-time Collegiate National Team alum Kyle Teel get selected by the Boston Red Sox. Jacob Gonzalez was the next pick at 15th overall to the Chicago White Sox, followed by Bryce Eldridge going 16th to the San Francisco Giants. The Baltimore Orioles chose Enrique Bradfield Jr. at No. 17 and Brayden Taylor went 19th to the Tampa Bay Rays, making it four 2022 Collegiate National Team teammates drafted in a six-pick span.

Colt Emerson was the Seattle Mariners’ pick at No. 22 before five more USA Baseball alumni were selected in the Draft’s first round: Ralphy Velazquez (No. 23, Cleveland Guardians), Hurston Waldrep (No. 24, Atlanta Braves), Aidan Miller (No. 27, Philadelphia Phillies), Kendall George (No. 36, Los Angeles Dodgers), and Kevin McGonigle (No. 37, Detroit Tigers).

Four of USA Baseball’s national team programs were represented in Sunday night’s opening round. The Collegiate National Team had 10 representatives, the 18U National Team featured nine players, four athletes were previously members of the 12U squad, and the 15U National Team had two players chosen.

Additionally, 11 participants of the USA Baseball National Team Development Program (NTDP) were selected in the first round, including five players who participated in the 2021 event. Twenty-one players chosen in the first round played in MLB/USA Baseball’s Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League, with 18 of those players competing at the event in 2022.

The full list of USA Baseball alumni selected in the first round of the 2023 MLB Draft is as follows:

Round-Pick; Name; MLB Team; USA Baseball National Team(s)

  • 1-1; Paul Skenes; Pittsburgh Pirates; 2014 12U, 2021 & 2022 Collegiate
  • 1-2; Dylan Crews; Washington Nationals; 2017 15U, 2018 18U, 2021 & 2022 Collegiate
  • 1-3; Max Clark; Detroit Tigers; 2022 18U
  • 1-4; Wyatt Langford; Texas Rangers; 2022 Collegiate
  • 1-5; Walker Jenkins; Minnesota Twins; 2021 18U
  • 1-6; Jacob Wilson; Oakland Athletics; 2022 Collegiate
  • 1-7; Rhett Lowder; Cincinnati Reds; 2022 Collegiate
  • 1-8; Blake Mitchell; Kansas City Royals; 2021 & 2022 18U
  • 1-14; Kyle Teel; Boston Red Sox; 2021 & 2022 Collegiate
  • 1-15; Jacob Gonzalez; Chicago White Sox; 2022 Collegiate
  • 1-16; Bryce Eldridge; San Francisco Giants; 2022 18U
  • 1-17; Enrique Bradfield Jr.; Baltimore Orioles; 2022 Collegiate
  • 1-19; Brayden Taylor; Tampa Bay Rays; 2022 Collegiate
  • 1-22; Colt Emerson; Seattle Mariners; 2017 12U, 2022 18U
  • 1-23; Ralphy Velazquez; Cleveland Guardians; 2016 & 2017 12U
  • 1-24; Hurston Waldrep; Atlanta Braves; 2022 Collegiate
  • 1-27; Aidan Miller; Philadelphia Phillies; 2016 12U, 2019 15U, 2022 18U
  • 1-36; Kendall George; Los Angeles Dodgers; 2022 18U
  • 1-37; Kevin McGonigle; Detroit Tigers; 2022 18U
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USA Baseball Announces 2023 12U National Team Roster

Team USA to play in the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup from July 28-August 6
June 30, 2023
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today named the final 18-man roster for the 2023 12U National Team. The announcement comes following the conclusion of 2023 12U National Team Training Camp, which was held from June 26-30 at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina. The 12U National Team will compete

CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today named the final 18-man roster for the 2023 12U National Team. The announcement comes following the conclusion of 2023 12U National Team Training Camp, which was held from June 26-30 at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina.

The 12U National Team will compete in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup, which is scheduled to take place from July 28-August 6 in Tainan, Taiwan. The U.S. has a world-best four world titles at the U-12 level, having won three-consecutive gold medals in 2013, 2015, and 2017. It will look to defend its title this summer after taking home the title of World Champion in 2022.

“After an extremely competitive week of Training Camp, we are excited about the roster that we have put together to compete in World Cup action this summer,” said 2023 12U National Team Manager Troy Gerlach. “We saw an incredible amount of talent, which made this decision difficult for our staff. We are confident though that the team we have assembled will represent our country well in pursuit of defending our world title.”

The roster was selected after five days of Training Camp, which featured intrasquad games, Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) performance assessments, daily on-field workouts, and more. Players at Training Camp participated in a four-game Stars vs. Stripes series, giving the coaching staff an opportunity to evaluate during in-game situations.

This year’s roster features 11 players who were a part of the 12U National Team that won gold at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in May, including tournament MVP Zaylon Johnson and all-tournament team members Tyler Early, Leyland Henry, Jacob Miller, and Boston Targac.

Additionally, the 2023 roster comprises players from eight different states. California leads all states with seven players, while Texas follows with four and Louisiana boasts two. Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, South Carolina, and Washington have one representative each on the roster.

Troy Gerlach returns to the dugout as manager of the 2023 12U National Team and will make his managerial debut this summer after helping Team USA win gold at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup last summer. He will be joined by pitching coach Seth Kenny, who was also on last year’s gold medal-winning 12U National Team staff, and assistants Bryan Madsen and Erick Quesada.

Team USA will train at a location to be determined before making the trip to Tainan, Taiwan, for the 2023 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup. The stars and stripes will open up World Cup play against the Cezch Republic on July 28 at 2:30 a.m. ET. The full 2023 12U National Team schedule can be found here.

For the most up-to-date information on the 12U National Team, visit USABaseball.com or follow @USABaseball and @USABaseball12U on Twitter.

2023 12U National Team Roster
(Name; Position; Hometown)

  • Micah Delosreyes; INF; Moreno Valley, Calif.
  • *Tyler Early; OF/LHP; Alexandria, La.
  • *Kingston George; RHP/OF; Gunter, Texas
  • *Ty Glaus; INF; Del Mar, Calif.
  • Gavin Gomez; OF; Long Beach, Calif.
  • Paris Head; INF/RHP; Chicago, Ill.
  • *Leyland Henry; INF; Houston, Texas
  • Raylen Hunter; OF; Pacolet, S.C.
  • *Zaylon Johnson; INF; Stonewall, La.
  • *Bryant Ju; C/OF; Cerritos, Calif.
  • Julian Knudsen; RHP; Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Bowen Landry; RHP/INF; Houston, Texas
  • *Jacob Miller; RHP; Temecula, Calif.
  • *Michael Ohman; LHP/INF; South San Francisco, Calif.
  • Nicholis Parker Jr.; OF/RHP; Bonney Lake, Wash.
  • *Jett Schoolcraft; OF/LHP; Beaverton, Ore.
  • *Boston Targac; C/INF; Flatonia, Texas
  • *Greyson Wuis; MIF; Kalamazoo, Mich.

*Denotes USA Baseball alum

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FEATURE: Jett Schoolcraft Looks to Rep Team USA for Second Time in 2023

June 28, 2023
CARY, N.C. – At just 12 years old, Jett Schoolcraft has accomplished a lot on the diamond. Already garnering a gold medal at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier earlier in the year, Schoolcraft joins 35 other athletes vying for the chance to be

CARY, N.C. – At just 12 years old, Jett Schoolcraft has accomplished a lot on the diamond.

Already garnering a gold medal at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier earlier in the year, Schoolcraft joins 35 other athletes vying for the chance to be named a part of the 2023 12U National Team at this week’s 12U National Team Training Camp in Cary, North Carolina. Team USA is set to compete at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in July in Tainan, Taiwan, and if Schoolcraft hears his name at the end of Training Camp on Friday, it would be his second national team nod in just a two-month span.

Back in May, Schoolcraft played a major role for the national team during its gold medal run in Aguascalientes, Mexico. At the event, he batted .455 with 10 hits and 14 RBIs in nine appearances, including seven starts, and made two appearances out of the bullpen. In the gold medal game, he went 1-for-4 with two RBIs en route to Team USA’s 29-28 victory over Venezuela.

Although Schoolcraft stated the trip to Mexico was not his first time out of the country­–as he traveled to Taiwan when he was eight years old–he spoke of the differing atmospheres between the two countries. When competing in an international event, especially in the Central and South America regions, the environment can be hostile as the stadiums are packed with fans all cheering for the host team.

“It was a very electric atmosphere when you walked into the stadium. If you get out, everyone just goes crazy because they’re cheering against you.”

Despite the hostility, the stars and stripes managed to form a bond amongst the players and coaches which allowed them to go undefeated in the World Cup qualifier. Particularly in the gold medal game where Team USA erased an 11-run deficit in the sixth inning.

“We came together as one."

He also recalled that the team did not play as individuals, but rather united as they went on to walk off the game in the bottom of the seventh.

“Meeting new people, gaining new teammates, and having great coaches made the trip extra special. I’m thankful I got the opportunity to go play with the 12U National Team.”

Schoolcraft cherished the opportunity to travel to Mexico, but as Training Camp is now in full swing, he looks to continue what he started.

“A couple of my teammates are here right now, and if we can maybe go and do it again, that’d be pretty nice.”

Although the World Cup Americas Qualifier was back in May, Schoolcraft and his former teammates have not skipped a beat. Since playing again alongside one another for the last three days at Training Camp, they are looking forward to the possibility of doing it again on the international stage.

“We’ve been talking about what we might do if we’re reunited again.”

Although the final 18-man roster for the 12U National Team will not be released until Friday, Schoolcraft and his fellow prospects rejoice in making new friendships while playing the game they love.

If Jett Schoolcraft is chosen again, the goal is simple.

“Same thing,” he said. “Just being with new people trying to win a gold medal and bring back a gold medal for our country.”

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Q&A: 12U National Team Training Camp Coach Wes Brooks

12U National Team Training Camp Coach Wes Brooks talks USA Baseball Task Force, compiling a national team
June 27, 2023
Wes Brooks, a 12U National Team Training Camp coach and member of the USA Baseball Task Force, has spent the last week in Cary, North Carolina, helping to assemble the 2023 12U National Team. As a member of the USA Baseball Task Force, Brooks served as a scout at the

Wes Brooks, a 12U National Team Training Camp coach and member of the USA Baseball Task Force, has spent the last week in Cary, North Carolina, helping to assemble the 2023 12U National Team.

As a member of the USA Baseball Task Force, Brooks served as a scout at the 11U Futures Invitational, identifying players who would be strong candidates for an invitation to the 12U National Team Training Camp.

Brooks, along with his fellow task force members, selected 36 athletes to participate in five days of intrasquad games, Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) performance assessments and on-field workouts from June 26-30 at Training Camp.

Serving as one of two Team Red coaches for the four-game “Stars vs. Stripes” instrasquad series, Brooks will also play a vital role in the selection process for the 18-man national team roster which will travel to Tainan, Taiwan, for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup from July 28-August 6.

Brooks has extensive coaching experience, having worked with USA Baseball’s developmental programming for over a decade and serving as the head coach at Oxford High School (Oxford, Ala.). 

Following the first day of 12U National Team Training Camp, Brooks spoke to USA Baseball about his experience as a USA Baseball Task Force member and coach and the process of compiling a national team:

Q: What has been your journey working with USA Baseball?

A: “In 2012, we brought our high school baseball team in Oxford, Alabama, to the first ever National High School Invitational. From 2013 to now, I've worked anywhere from 16/U17U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) all the way down to 11U/13U NTIS. This is my first time working at a national team Training Camp and the first time I've worked at the Futures Invitational. I’ve worked with USA Baseball in just about every aspect that they have.”

Q: What does your role as a member of the USA Baseball Task Force entail?

A: “Our job is to pick the right players, not necessarily the best players, but pick the right players for Team USA. What that means is the players who can control the controllables. Control their body language, effort, focus. Control their hustle. Control their tempo transitioning from drill to drill. Then the coaches pick the right players to give us the best opportunity to compete for the desired outcome, which is a gold medal.”

Q: What are you looking for in players when you are putting together this 12U National Team Training Camp roster?

A: “Different players have different skill sets. There’s some that have multiple skill sets, and there’s some that have individual skill sets. For example, there’s some guys that can run and are very athletic. Then your corner guys hit the ball a long way. Then there's some really good defenders and some really good arms. If you have multiple skill sets that are above average, then that gives you a good chance. If you have one skill set that's the top 10 percent of your age group, you also give yourself a good chance to compete for making the national team.”

Q: What does the process of selecting the 18-man 12U National Team roster from the 36-man 12U National Team Training Camp roster look like?

A: “We’re looking for the guy that can hold himself accountable to the standard of the guys who played and competed and won a gold medal before him, is willing to hold other players to that same standard and brings energy every single day. Day three is the separator. It’s important for us to identify the guys who still have that same energy as the eight-year-old putting on the jersey for the very first time because you compete several days in a row when the team goes to Taiwan. The mental and physical toughness that it takes is also important. Whether it's physical toughness, blocking a ball in the dirt or diving and keeping a ball in the infield and not letting a run score, or the mental toughness to be able to overcome adversity because baseball is a game of failure. You have to be committed to your teammates, be committed to the U-S-A letters on your chest, be committed to your coaches and be committed to the desired outcome, which is a gold medal. 

“Then the final thing is the discipline that it takes to make sure you get the proper rest, you wake up on time, you're in meetings on time and you're doing the little things, whether you feel like doing it or not. It takes extra discipline because if you can get a bunt down in the sixth inning, or you can pick up trash off the field, or you can clean up your space, or you can get up and be on time, then we can count on you and trust you. Those are the guys we're looking for. The guys that can do all those little things right all the time.”

Q: What does it mean to you to be chosen to help determine a Team USA roster that will represent the United States?

A: “Being asked to help out with the 12U National Team Training Camp is special to me. Each time I get an email from USA Baseball asking me to help out, it almost brings tears to my eyes. I'm having chills on my arms right now just talking about it. The ultimate feeling is being able to stand on that stage and have the national anthem played in someone else's country and you're on the top of the leaderboard. That's just special. Whether you're an intern, the grounds crew, all the way to the coaches and the players. It’s everybody throughout that whole process’ job to help us win a gold medal. Being around those people makes me step up my game every day so that I'm bringing the energy day in and day out.”

Q: What are the most difficult and most rewarding parts of your work with USA Baseball?

A: “The most difficult thing is I want to be the best husband and father that I can possibly be. I have two girls at home, Sawyer who’s 18 and Skylar who’s 13, and my wife, so the most difficult thing is making sure they're taken care of back home. When I'm here, there's a void in my home so I have to set things up for success in my family as well as this team here. The most rewarding thing is my girls have been involved with my baseball teams back home in Oxford, their whole lives. When I get an opportunity to do this, they're the very first ones that say, ‘Go Dad. You do it. You deserve it.’ Being able to come back home a month or so from now and being able to watch the games on livestream in Taiwan at like 4:30 a.m., and my 13-year-old Skylar is waking up with me like, “Dad, let’s watch them.” The rewarding part of it is being able to go back home and them being just as excited for me as I am to be here.”

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FEATURE: Behind the Uniform

What It Takes to Put Together a Team USA Roster
June 26, 2023
Read through Adobe Express Representing Team USA as a coach or player is an experience unlike any other. It is an opportunity for some of the best in baseball to come together to pursue a common goal: to win gold on the international stage. From the outside looking in, most

Read through Adobe Express

Representing Team USA as a coach or player is an experience unlike any other. It is an opportunity for some of the best in baseball to come together to pursue a common goal: to win gold on the international stage.

From the outside looking in, most people only get to see the surface of what it entails to put together a national team. Public announcements of who will make up the coaching staff and roster, the schedule of events, and the outcome are all just a small part of what goes on behind the scenes to compile the best possible team.

Behind the scenes, a considerable amount effort from the USA Baseball staff goes into the process of identifying a leader, determining a staff, and building a roster. It is a process that begins roughly six to nine months before that respective team’s international competition and involves difficult and complex decisions.

“Constructing a national team is like a puzzle, and everything that we do behind the scenes contributes to not only identifying the best players, but the best people to make up a coaching staff and support staff,” said USA Baseball Chief Executive Office Paul Seiler. “One of the biggest challenges is making sure we find the right pieces so that at least when we begin our journey to playing for a gold medal, we feel like the puzzle is pretty completed. We have a good picture of where we want to go and how we will get there.”

ASSEMBLING THE STAFF

The primary part of assembling a national team is identifying a manager who will lead and embody what it means to represent Team USA. USA Baseball’s staff considers many variables when choosing who to give that responsibility to. Of course, their prior successes on the field matter, but more importantly, how they can connect with and motivate players and embrace what Team USA stands for helps complete the makeup of the ideal manager.

“The process of identifying a manager for a national team varies between the programs,” said National Teams General Manager Ashley Bratcher. “You need that person to be familiar with the age of the athletes who they will ultimately lead, but also, we try to look for someone that will represent our national team programs well and uphold our standards and expectations of our athletes.”

But just as important as identifying the right manager to lead a national team, it is just as vital for the manager to surround themselves with a staff that can identify the top talent and character at the respective identification events for their squad.

“I tried to surround myself with knowledgeable people through the entire process, people at all levels from high school, to college, to pro, to working with USA Baseball,” recalled 2022 18U National Team Manager Denny Hocking, who led Team USA to gold medals at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup and World Cup Americas Qualifier.

“My number one thing while being in charge of a team is building relationships, so for me, it was important to put people in roles at the PDP League where they would be able to learn about the kids because I wanted an honest evaluation of the 100 players that we had there. It was about what 20 puzzle pieces we were going to put together in order to be the best representation of Team USA.”

THE IDENTIFICATION PROCESS

When preparing for an international competition, determining a roster is one of the most complex parts of the entire process. From the hundreds of players in each age group who put their talent on display to the coaches and staff members, only 18 are selected for the 12U National Team, while 20 are chosen for the 15U, 18U, and Women’s National Teams. Meanwhile, the Collegiate National Team carries 26 players and the Professional National Team’s roster size ranges from 24-30 players based on the event.

It’s not always about finding the best players, though. It’s about finding the right players.

“When we’re identifying players, we tend to look for qualities that would play well in the international environment,” explained 2022 15U National Team Manager Drew Briese, who led the team to its second consecutive World Cup title last summer. “An international environment can be very hostile, so some of the things that we were looking for with that [15U] team were guys who were highly competitive, had the ability to handle adversity, and their qualities as a person fit into the team dynamic.

“If you want to find the right folks to hit the field and win that gold medal, you have to have that mentality in the team chemistry and dynamic in order to do it.”

Selecting a national team is an intricate process. With such a large pool of talented players to choose from that can compete at a high level, the few who are selected must be able to not only fill the roles needed but also have the intangibles. The things that can’t be taught on a ball field.

“Everyone's pretty much in agreement on who the first 10 to 12 players are, but it's those last few pieces for the roles that we need that you can't miss on because those are what's really going to determine your success,” said 2022 12U National Team Manager R.J. Farrell, who guided the squad to an 8-0 record and a gold medal at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup. “It’s tough at any age group once you get the top players to Training Camp. They all can play the game, and they all bring something that's really, really good.

“When you start getting to where you're going to make the selection of who's going to actually make the national team, it comes down to who fits what piece that we feel we need. It’s a really difficult process, and there’s a lot of conversation involved. But at the end of the day, it's what we have to do.”

Most national teams have a primary identification event where the national team staff and a group of Task Force members carefully evaluate every player in the event. However, the selection process varies between each national team program.

For the 12U and 15U teams, the process for selecting players starts at USA Baseball’s identification events: The Futures Invitational, the National Team Championships in Arizona and North Carolina, and the National Team Identification Series.

The primary identification event for the 18U National Team is the Prospective Development Pipeline (PDP) League, which features 100 of the top eligible players for the following year’s draft. Meanwhile, the Women’s National Team process begins with the Women’s National Open, a three-day event for players around the country to compete for a Team USA roster spot.

In addition to the Women’s National Open, a large chunk of the identification for the Women’s National Team comes from various joint events that USA Baseball hosts alongside Major League Baseball throughout the calendar year. With women’s baseball still on the rise, these events give staff members and players a unique chance to build relationships while honing in on the development aspect of the game.

From these identification events, the coaching staff determines a Training Camp roster of 36-72 players to advance to the next step towards deciding who will wear U-S-A across their chest.

With the Collegiate National Team, the best 48-56 non-draft eligible players are selected for a Training Camp as the initial step towards identifying its national team each year. With the short time window from the end of the college season to when the team preps for its event, the players are evaluated throughout their season, giving USA Baseball a chance to recognize the best of college baseball.

“It's great for USA Baseball to put together its very best collegiate players to play international competition year in and year out,” said Professional and Collegiate National Teams General Manager Eric Campbell. “But the segment where college players play peer to peer during our annual Stars and Stripes series in which we pick our final team is an exceptional week and a lifetime baseball experience that no one will forget, regardless of if they make the final national team or not.”

Likewise, with the Professional National Teams, those squads are composed of the top Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball players who are evaluated based on current and past performances at the professional level.

“It's exciting when MLB designates a pool of players that are available for a Professional National Team event,” added Campbell. “Those guys are playing for their club and are reaching for the pinnacle of the game, but it's exciting for everyone at USA Baseball when we can put our nation's uniform on those professional players. They've earned it based on their performance in any given year.”

For the national teams that select their roster from Training Camp, that stage could be considered the toughest part of the entire process. It is an intense three to four days and with a lot of conversation involved. Each night, the coaching staffs hold a meeting to evaluate the talent in front of them and determine who will represent Team USA. Because so many factors go into deciding that 18-20 player roster, the conversations can take hours.

“The difficulty during Training Camp to figure out that final roster is unlike anything else you experience,” said former 12U and 15U National Team Program Director Will Schworer. “Being in that room where they're talking about phenomenal athletes and how one might carry himself better off the field, or how one has a better bat but another player might be better defensively, is intense. The conversations can last hours, and it’s not an easy process.

“Just getting to the Training Camp roster is difficult, but once you’re looking for those final 18-20 guys, you really have to consider the intangibles on top of the talent. A lot of deep conversation goes into that selection process, and it’s not an easy one.”

SELECTION DAY

Once a national team is selected, several different emotions surface for all involved. There’s the slight relief that the selection process has been completed, so much excitement that the best possible roster has been put together, and anticipation to really begin the journey to win gold.

“Selection Day is an interesting day because not only am I telling 20 players that they have made the national team, but I am also releasing 20 players and letting them know they didn’t make the team,” said USA Baseball alum and two-time Women’s National Team Manager Veronica Alvarez. “It’s a mix of emotions because I very much empathize with those players who I have to release knowing how hard they have worked to get to that stage, but it’s also exciting to present the news to the 20 who make it and let them know they are representing USA Baseball.

“By selecting someone to the Women's National Team, it means that not only have they excelled on the field, but that they encompass everything that it means to represent the game and represent women within the game.”

Alvarez is a four-time Women’s National Team alum and served as manager in 2019 and 2022, so having the experience as a player and a manager has given her a deeper appreciation for what it truly means to wear the U-S-A letters across your chest.

“Having been a player on the Women’s National Team, I have a love and passion for what it means to represent Team USA. I have really high expectations for the women who follow because I want them to be successful and understand what that looks like. But now, being on the coaching side, I’ve moved away from having a personal goal or accomplishment, and I now understand what it means to help somebody else accomplish a goal. I wear the uniform with pride and very much feel this responsibility to uphold the standards of USA Baseball and what it means to be a woman within the game.”

The journey to pursuing gold is extensive, but it is one that provides so much reward to all involved. It’s a gratifying experience for those staff members and coaches who get to see all of the months of hard work finally come to fruition when Team USA competes on the international stage. Therefore, no matter what capacity you are serving in, it’s a badge of honor to be able to represent the red, white, and blue through America’s Pastime.

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