Team USA Scores Six in the First, Storms Past Puerto Rico in World Cup Qualifier Pool Play

Franco’s second homer in as many days sets tone in 15-2 win

Box Score | Plays | Cumulative Stats

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico – Team USA scored six runs in the first inning en route to a 15-2 win over Puerto Rico in World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier pool play on Saturday afternoon in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
The win moves the U.S. to 2-0 in the tournament’s opening round.

Team USA’s offense came out firing in the top of the first to put six runs on the board almost immediately. The first run came four batters in when PJ Morlando (Summerville, S.C.) smoked an RBI double to right before a wild pitch scored another run to put the U.S. up 2-0. Then, with two on and one out, Noah Franco (Downey, Calif.) socked his second homer in as many days – a blast over the left-field wall – to make it a five-run lead for the United States. Nazzan Zanetello (Florissant, Mo.) capped the rally with an RBI double to make it 6-0 in favor of Team USA, a lead that would continue to grow throughout the game.
Morlando was all over the box score for the United States. The designated hitter had a hit, two RBIs, and two runs scored, reaching base twice and adding a sacrifice fly. Ty Southisene (Henderson, Nev.) – who reached base in four of his five plate appearances – and Zanetello each had two-hit games for the United States. Zanetello was one of four U.S. players to drive in multiple runs in the win, joined by Franco, Roman Martin (Whittier, Calif.), and Morlando. Macon Winslow (Hertford, N.C.) added a homer in the top of the fifth and scored twice.
Mason Brassfield (Bakersfield, Calif.) got the start on the mound and gave the U.S. three solid innings, allowing two runs. Brassfield surrendered just one hit but walked five batters, putting traffic on the bases throughout his start. Talan Bell (Oviedo, Fla.) pitched a scoreless fifth to earn the win and Vaughn Neckar (Wildomar, Calif.) secured the final three outs in the fifth. Puerto Rico starter Dickey Gonzalez was tagged for six runs on five hits in 0.1 innings and suffered the loss.


  • PJ Morlando delivered the opening run in the six-run first with a hard-hit double to right-center field, bringing home Ty Southisene and giving Team USA a 1-0 lead.
  • After reaching on a fielder’s choice in the top of the first, Casey Borba sprinted home on a wild pitch to make the score 2-0 in favor of Team USA.
  • Noah Franco smoked a three-run homer down the left-field line to bring home Roman Martin and PJ Morlando and extend the U.S. lead to 5-0 in the opening inning.
  • The stars and stripes’ lead became 6-0 in the first when Nazzan Zanetello snuck a double down the left-field line to bring home Macon Winslow.
  • Puerto Rico loaded the bases in the bottom of the first, but Mason Brassfield induced an inning-ending fielder’s choice to keep the U.S. in front by six.
  • Team USA took a 7-0 lead in the top of the third when Ty Southisene singled with two outs and advanced around the bases on wild pitches.
  • The U.S. advantage became 10 in the third when three consecutive walks filled the bases and all three runners scored on a bases-clearing, three-run double by Roman Martin.
  • Puerto Rico cracked the scoreboard and trimmed its deficit to 10-2 on an RBI double by Bryan Rivera and an RBI fielder’s choice from Victor Cartagena in the third.
  • Nazzan Zanetello hit his second RBI double of the game in the top of the fourth to plate Michael Torres and put Team USA in front, 11-2.
  • An RBI single by Campbell Smithwick and a sacrifice fly from PJ Morlando gave Team USA its 12th and 13th runs of the game and made it an 11-run lead in the fourth.
  • In the fifth, Macon Winslow demolished a solo homer over the wall in left-center field to make the score 14-2 in favor of the U.S.
  • After Casey Borba drew a bases-loaded walk to make it a 13-run lead, **Vaughn Neckar **came out of the bullpen in the fifth to lock down the final three outs for Team USA and secure the 15-2 run-rule victory.


  • Noah Franco has seven RBIs through two games to lead the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in that category. He is batting .800 (4-for-5) thus far in tournament play.
  • Nazzan Zanetello’s two doubles in Saturday’s win propelled him into the team lead in two-baggers.
  • Casey Borba, Campbell Smithwick, and Michael Torres all drew two walks in the victory.
  • Team USA’s pitching staff owns a 1.80 ERA so far in tournament play, allowing just two runs in 10 innings pitched. The group has struck out 15 batters.
  • The stars and stripes got hit by six pitches in the victory and have now been plunked 11 times in two games of tournament play.
  • The United States has hit four of the eight home runs across all teams at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier.
  • Fifteen runs are the most Team USA has ever scored against Puerto Rico at the U-18 level.
  • The U.S. has now scored 28 runs through two games at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier, the most of any team in the tournament.
  • Team USA has won each of its first two tournament games via the WBSC run rule.
  • The United States improved to 5-0 all-time against Puerto Rico at the U-18 level.

The U.S. is back in action on Sunday against Venezuela at 3:00 p.m. PT/6:00 p.m. ET from Estadio Leonardo Gastelum in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

To follow along with all the action with the 18U National Team, be sure to follow @USABaseball18U on Twitter and @USABaseball on FacebookInstagramTikTok, and Twitter.