Elite Squad Takes Gold at 15U National Team Championships NC

Elite Squad rallied for six runs over a three-inning span to secure the gold medal
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
FIVE 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 3 7 0
ELITE 0 0 3 1 2 0 0 6 10 2
Win: Garcia Loss: McMullen Save: Thrush
Box Score | Play-by-Play

CARY, N.C. - Two pitches into the 15U National Team Championship North Carolina gold medal game, 5 Star National had a lead.

Sean Benjamin tripled and Cooper McMullen hit a sacrifice fly on back-to-back pitches, putting Elite Squad starter AJ Garcia in an early hole.

Then, AJ Garcia locked in and threw five dominant innings. Trailing 1-0, Garcia settled in and led Elite Squad to a 6-3 win at the USA Baseball National Training Complex on Thursday afternoon in Cary, North Carolina.

Garcia tossed five one-run innings and Ethan Puig had two hits with a pair of RBIs to lead Elite Squad to the gold medal. Bryce Jackson and Efrain Morales also led the Elite Squad offensive attack, both picking up two hits. Jackson, Kody Morgan, Michael Podstreleny, and Dawson Thrash all drove in runs for the gold medal-winners, who ended the tournament with a 6-1 record.

Garcia, who struck out six and allowed three hits and three walks in his five innings of work, notched the win for Elite Squad. Dawson Thrush pitched 1.2 innings to earn the save.

Benjamin (3-for-5) had three hits for 5 Star, adding two singles to his leadoff triple. McMullen (0-for-2) and Myles Bailey (1-for-3) had 5 Star’s lone two RBIs.

McMullen started for 5 Star, allowing four runs on six hits in 3.1 innings. Jacob Burnham replaced him, pitching 2.1 innings and allowing a pair of runs. McMullen, who was making his second appearance of the tournament, suffered the loss.

 Key Moments

  • Benjamin hit the first pitch of the game to center field for a triple and came around to score on McMullen’s sacrifice fly to right.
  • Elite Squad threatened in the bottom of the first, putting two runners on with two outs before McMullen induced an inning-ending groundout.
  • Juan Gonzalez led off the bottom of the third with a single and advanced to second on a Dawson Thrush walk. After McMullen struck out Efrain Morales, Podstreleny followed with an RBI-single to score Gonzalez.
  • -Bryce Jackson drove in Thrush with a base hit to center field before Puig drove in the inning’s third run with a sacrifice fly.
  • Given a two-run lead, Garcia pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth. In the bottom frame, Thrush hit a sacrifice fly to plate Gavin Gargiulo and give Elite Squad a 4-1 advantage.
  • Elite Squad’s extended its lead in the fifth, when Puig singled home Morales with a two-out single to left. Puig eventually made it 6-1 when he scored on a single by Kody Morgan.
  • 5 Star began to stage a comeback in the top of the sixth when Jackson Godfrey scored on an error to make it 6-2.
  • Myles Bailey made it 6-3, singling home Bricen Smith, before Thrush entered the game and escaped further trouble.
  • 5 Star put two runners on in the seventh, sending Smith as the tying run to the plate. Thrush got Smith to ground out to second base, securing the win for Elite Squad.

Notable Information

  • Garcia’s final pitch of the day was his hardest of the day, an 86-mph fastball to strike out McMullen.
  • Puig’s two hits gave him 14 hits overall for the tournament.
  • -Morales’ performance was his third two-hit game of the tournament.
  • Benjamin had at least one hit in all but one of the games he played in.


  • Stay tuned to @USABChamps_NC on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date information on the National Team Championships North Carolina.