GAMEDAY: Team USA Opens Super Round Play Against Chinese Taipei

First pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. local/6:30 a.m. ET


TAIPEI, Taiwan – The 18U National Team gets World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup Super Round play underway on Thursday, taking on Chinese Taipei. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. local/6:30 a.m. ET at Tianmu Baseball Stadium in Taipei, Taiwan.


RHP Tegan Kuhns (USA) vs. RHP Jun-Wei Zhang (TPE)


Chinese Taipei (2-0)

USA (1-1)

Japan (1-1)

Korea (1-1)

Netherlands (1-1)

Puerto Rico (0-2)


Team USA finished Group B action with a 4-1 victory over Venezuela on Tuesday to complete pool play with a 4-1 record. The U.S. got a strong outing on the mound from Levi Sterling, who tossed four shutout innings while the offense put up some early runs. It was an immediate 1-0 lead for the stars and stripes on Tuesday, as Coy James led off with a single and scored on an error in the bottom of the first. The other U.S. runs came in the second and third innings when Manny Marin scored on a wild pitch, Konnor Griffin hit a sacrifice fly, and Derek Curiel came home on a balk. Venezuela got the tying run to the plate in the sixth, but Joey Oakie entered in relief to put out the fire before Noah Franco recorded the final out to secure the win.


Team USA and Chinese Taipei have met 32 times at the U-18 level, with the U.S. holding a 22-9-1 advantage in the all-time series. The first-ever meeting between the two nations came in the opening game of the 1987 World Junior Championships, when the United States picked up a 10-0 victory. Most recently, the two nations faced off in the gold medal game of the 2021 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup, which resulted in a 6-2 victory for the stars and stripes.


The only remaining unbeaten team at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup, Chinese Taipei went 5-0 in Group A play. The reigning silver medalists opened play with a 3-0 win over Australia and beat Korea, 6-1. After consecutive 4-1 wins over Mexico and Czechia, Taipei finished pool play with a resounding 16-2 victory over previously undefeated Puerto Rico.

Offensively, Taipei is led by Ching-Hsien Ko, who is 7-for-11 with a home run and four runs scored so far in tournament play. Chao-Hung Chang poses a power threat in Taipei’s order as he has hit two home runs and driven in seven runs through five games. The club is batting .300 as a team and has scored 36 runs in five contests. On the mound, Taipei owns a 0.85 team ERA and has punched out 35 batters in 33 innings pitched. It has gotten the most innings out of Yi-Lei Sun, who has tossed nine scoreless frames allowing just three hits.


Dating back four tournaments, Team USA has experienced great success in the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Super Round. The team is 11-1 in its past 12 Super Round games, with its only loss coming last summer against Chinese Taipei. The United States went unbeaten through the Super Round in 2015, 2017, and 2019, winning gold in two of those tournaments.


Nine players on the 2023 roster have previously played for Team USA. A trio of players from last year’s WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier squad return to the 18U National Team, as Matthew Champion, Noah Franco, and PJ Morlando all helped the U.S. win gold last November. In addition, three players from the 2021 15U National Team–Konnor Griffin, Ethan Schiefelbein, and Nolan Traeger–will reunite on this year’s roster, while two-time alum Jack McKernan and Coy James represent the 2022 15U squad. Bryce Rainer returns to Team USA and makes his second trip to Taiwan after playing for the 2017 12U team.

The 2023 Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League featured 17 members of this year’s team. The PDP League, which serves as the primary identification event for the 18U National Team, is an invitation-based development and assessment opportunity for high school players eligible for the following year’s MLB Draft. Additionally, 14 members of the squad have previously participated in USA Baseball’s development programs. Three athletes who participated in the 2023 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP)–James, McKernan, and Joey Oakie–earned spots on the final 20-man squad. Eleven members of the 2022 16U/17U NTDP and four players from the 2021 16U/17U NTDP roster were also named to the team. In addition, James and McKernan both participated in the 2021 13U/14U Athlete Development Program (ADP).


Team USA is aiming to defend its gold medal at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup after winning the title last summer in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida. The U.S. defeated Chinese Taipei in the world championship game in 2022, marking its ninth World Cup gold medal. The United States won four consecutive titles from 2012-2017, joining Cuba as the only two nations to win four straight World Cup gold medals.


Team USA manager Michael Cuddyer is only the second alumnus to play for and manage the 18U National Team, joining Jason Hisey, who played for the U.S. in 1987 and managed the squad in 2006. Cuddyer is a two-time 18U National Team alum, as he played for the program in both 1996 and 1997. In 1996, Cuddyer batted .367 with five RBIs on a roster that featured seven future big leaguers, including Rick Ankiel and Josh Bard. Cuddyer then posted a .397 average with an .853 slugging percentage while leading the U.S. in home runs (7) and RBIs (26) at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1997.


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