GAMEDAY: Team USA Takes on Korea in Super Round

First pitch scheduled for 2:30 p.m. local/2:30 a.m. ET


TAIPEI, Taiwan – The 18U National Team continues World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup Super Round play on Friday against Korea. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. local/2:30 a.m. ET at Tianmu Baseball Stadium in Taipei, Taiwan.


RHP Junseo Hwang (KOR) vs. LHP Ethan Schiefelbein (USA)


Chinese Taipei (3-0)

Japan (2-1)

USA (1-2)

Korea (1-2)

Netherlands (1-2)

Puerto Rico (1-2)


Team USA fell in its Super Round opener to Chinese Taipei, 3-0, on Thursday night at Tianmu Baseball Stadium. Taipei’s Nian-Hao Wang drove in all three runs for the victors, skying a two-run homer to left in the third and adding an insurance run with an RBI single in the seventh. Tegan Kuhns was strong in his start despite the loss, tossing 5.2 innings of two-run ball to keep Team USA in the game. Kuhns worked around trouble in the outing, allowing four walks and three hits, but was able to keep Taipei in check aside from one swing by Wang in the third. PJ Morlando and Nolan Traeger had the only two hits for the United States, each notching two-out singles in the first and second innings, respectively.


At the U-18 level, the United States and Korea have played one another 21 times. Team USA owns a slight series advantage over Korea, posting a 12-9 all-time record. The series began when the U.S. earned a 7-5 victory over Korea in the opening game of the 1988 World Junior Championships, while the most recent meeting was an 8-3 win for the stars and stripes at the 2021 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup.


Korea enters Friday’s contest at 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the Super Round, an identical record to the U.S. Emerging from Group A as the two seed, Korea dropped its tournament opener to Chinese Taipei before winning its next four games to go 4-1 in pool play. It fell in its first Super Round contest, however, losing a 7-1 contest to Japan on Thursday afternoon.

Korea is batting .271 as a team through its first six games, led by Sangjun Lee, who is batting .417 (5-for-12). Hyunmin Cho has tallied six hits and four runs scored, while Yulye Lee has a team-high six RBIs. On the mound, Korea owns a team ERA of 1.93 with 58 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched. Junseo Hwang, who is starting on Friday against Team USA, is 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA in two appearances at the World Cup.


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.