Team USA Begins Title Defense With Tight Win Over the Netherlands

Schiefelbein goes four strong, Rainer drives in winning run in 2-1 victory

Box Score & Plays | Cumulative Stats

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Team USA opened play at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands on Friday afternoon at Tianmu Baseball Stadium.

With the win, the stars and stripes begin tournament play with a 1-0 record while the Netherlands drops to 0-1.

After a pitcher’s duel led by Ethan Schiefelbein (Corona, Calif.) kept the game scoreless into the top of the fifth, the Netherlands broke the tie on a U.S. throwing error to take a 1-0 lead. But after being faced with its first adversity of the tournament, Team USA responded immediately in the bottom of the fifth by wreaking havoc on the basepaths to tie it before Bryce Rainer (Simi Valley, Calif.) legged out a go-ahead fielder’s choice to take a 2-1 lead that the U.S. would go on to win by.

Team USA only mustered four hits in the win, with Manny Marin’s (Miami, Fla.) leadoff double in the fifth arguably being the biggest knock of the game. Levi Clark (Marietta, Ga.), Derek Curiel (West Covina, Calif.), and PJ Morlando (Summerville, S.C.) chipped in the other three hits of the day for the stars and stripes, who also drew six walks.

The U.S. pitching was dominant, led by Schiefelbein’s four-inning start. The southpaw was nearly unhittable, striking out eight–including five consecutive batters over the first and second innings–and allowing just one single. Rainer then took over and earned the win with 1.2 innings of relief, surrendering just an unearned run in the fifth. Trey Gregory-Alford (Colorado Springs, Colo.) pitched the final 1.1 innings to record the four-out save.

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • Three U.S. hitters reached base after Schiefelbein retired the side in order in the top of the first, but an inning-ending ground out kept the game scoreless through one.
  • Schiefelbein registered a big strikeout to maintain the scoreless tie after a walk and two-out single put a pair on for the Netherlands in the top of the third.
  • After leading off the bottom of the third with a bunt and then stealing second, Curiel took third but was thrown out at home trying to advance on an errant throw as the game remained deadlocked at zero.
  • Clark’s fourth-inning single gave the U.S. a leadoff hit for the second consecutive inning, but the score stayed 0-0 as the stars and stripes couldn’t turn it into a run.
  • Despite retiring the first two batters out the bullpen in the top of the fifth, Rainer surrendered an unearned run on a throwing error that gave the Netherlands a 1-0 lead.
  • Team USA answered immediately in the bottom of the fifth, scoring twice to take a 2-1 edge. Marin got the rally started with a leadoff double, and after Curiel walked and Marin took third on a passed ball­, a perfectly executed double steal knotted the score at one.
  • With the bases loaded and one out, Rainer hit a hard ground ball and legged out a fielder’s choice that plated Curiel and gave the United States a 2-1 advantage in the bottom of the fifth.
  • An infield single and a walk put a pair of Netherlands’ runners on and eventually in scoring position, but Gregory-Alford coaxed a ground out to halt the threat and maintain the 2-1 U.S. edge in the sixth. 
  • Gregory-Alford returned to the mound for the top of the seventh and worked around a two-out single to earn a four-out save and secure the 2-1 win.

NOTABLES

  • Led by Curiel’s three stolen bases, the United States swiped six bags in the win. Curiel’s three stolen bases tie him for third-most all-time in a single game in 18U National Team history.
  • Schiefelbein’s eight strikeouts tie him for the early tournament lead with Chinese Taipei’s Yi-Lei Sun.
  • Each of the first four hitters in the Team USA lineup drew a walk in Friday’s victory.
  • The United States has now won nine consecutive tournament openers at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup. The stars and stripes last dropped a World Cup opening game in 2006.
  • The U.S. improves to 14-0 all-time against the Netherlands at the U-18 level, dating back to the nations’ first meeting in 1989.

ON DECK

Team USA is back in action on Saturday when it takes on Spain at 2:30 p.m. local/2:30 a.m. ET. Catch all the action from Tianmu Baseball Stadium by watching live on Gametime.sport.

SOCIAL MEDIA

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