GAMEDAY: Team USA Begins Super Round Against Panama

First pitch scheduled for 2:00 p.m. PT/4:00 p.m. ET at Estadio Arturo C. Nahl


LA PAZ, Mexico – The 18U National Team kicks off Super Round play at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier on Thursday against Panama. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. PT/4:00 p.m. ET at Estadio Arturo C. Nahl in La Paz, Mexico.


Team USA wrapped up a pool play sweep on Tuesday, defeating Canada, 10-4. The U.S. offense relied on timely two-out hitting en route to the win, striking first on a two-out, two-run homer by PJ Morlando in the top of the first. Casey Borba and Campbell Smithwick also picked up clutch two-out knocks in the victory, as Smithwick drove in a game-high three RBIs. Borba drove in a run and has now done so in each of the tournament's first four games to lead Team USA in that category.

Austin Nye got the start for the U.S. against Canada and tossed two shutout innings, working around a trio of singles while striking out five. Cade Townsend earned the win with 2.2 innings of one-run ball in relief, striking out six. Michael Torres and Ty Southisene combined to pitch the final 2.1 innings in the victory.


Team USA holds a 21-2-0 record all-time against Panama at the U-18 level. The countries first met in 1987 and have played 22 times since, with the U.S. winning the most recent matchup, 17-2, in 2018. The stars and stripes are 17-1 against Panama in WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier history.


With three home runs in tournament play, PJ Morlando is now tied atop the leaderboard for most home runs in a WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier by a U.S. player. Morlando is tied with six former Team USA players, including Riley Greene and Bobby Witt Jr.


Team USA's pitching staff has stuck out double-digit batters in two consecutive games and is tied with Canada for most punch outs in tournament play (38). U.S. pitchers struck out 10 batters in Sunday's win over Venezuela and followed that with 13 more in the win over Canada on Tuesday. *_Carson Messina *_leads all Team USA pitchers with seven strikeouts.


The U.S. has won each of the last five U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifiers it has competed in, earning gold in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016, and 2018 while compiling a 41-1 overall record. The program most recently captured gold in the event with a perfect 9-0 record in 2018, outscoring its opponents 131-27.


United States (2-0)

Panama (2-0)

Mexico (1-1)

Venezuela (1-1)

Nicaragua (0-2)

Puerto Rico (0-2)


Team USA’s 20-man roster features four members who have previously donned the stars and stripes. A trio of players reunite on the roster after earning spots on the 15U National Team: Carson Messina, Austin Nye, and Michael Torres. Additionally, Daniel Arambula (2017) and Torres (2018) played for the 12U National Team, both winning gold medals.

In total, 10 of the 20 players on the roster have participated in USA Baseball development programs, including eight players from the 2022 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP). Arambula, Talan Bell, Matthew Champion, Noah Franco, PJ Morlando, Vaughn Neckar, Ford Thompson, and Torres all participated at this year’s NTDP from July 25-29 in Cary, North Carolina. The roster also includes four players who participated in the 2022 Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League: Casey Borba, Roman Martin, Campbell Smithwick and Nazzan Zanetello.


Denny Hocking is back at the helm of the 18U National Team after guiding the U.S. to a gold medal at this summer’s WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida. The skipper, who owns 13 years of major-league playing experience, has spent time as an analyst, coach, and minor-league manager, and currently works as an analyst on Bally Sports West.

Team USA alum and 14-year MLB veteran Brad Penny returns to the staff as pitching coach after serving in the same role for the program in a friendship series against Canada in 2021. The World Series champ and two-time MLB All-Star led last year’s staff to a 1.53 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 59 innings. Former 12U National Team Manager and longtime Orange Lutheran High School skipper Eric Borba is on staff as an assistant coach, as well as New York Yankees’ minor-league coach James Cooper.