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USA Baseball Announces 13U/14U Athlete Development Program Staff
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today announced the coaching staff for the 2022 13U/14U Athlete Development Program (ADP), highlighted by the naming of Mississippi State pitching coach Scott Foxhall and five-time MLB All-Star and current University of Texas assistant coach Troy Tulowitzki as pitching and hitting coordinators, respectively. They will join field coordinator Jim Koerner, USA Baseball's Director of Player Development, in leading the on-field programming during the event.
The ADP, which will now welcome 72 athletes to the USA Baseball National Training Complex for the first time, will feature advanced on-field skills development with positional and team-fundamental drills, along with ongoing evaluation by the coaching staff. The participants will be split across four teams and compete head-to-head in a series of games. Additionally, the athletes will participate in off-field educational seminars while gaining additional exposure to professional scouts and college recruiters.
Four current Division I head coaches also join the ADP coaching staff in 2022 and will each serve as a manager for one of the four teams at the ADP. Erik Bakich (Michigan) returns to the ADP staff for a second-straight year, and he is joined by Randy Hood (UNC-Wilmington), Omar Johnson (Jackson State), and Elton Pollock (Presbyterian College) as team managers in 2022. Additionally, a group of accomplished high school coaches will join them as team assistant and pitching coaches.
“We are very excited about the caliber of the coaches on this year’s Athlete Development Program staff,” said Ben Kelley, USA Baseball's Director of Baseball Operations. “The Athlete Development Program continues to be a tremendous opportunity for young players to learn and grow on and off the field at a pivotal time in their development. We have assembled a group of well-respected coaches from various levels of baseball and, under their guidance, we anticipate hosting a great event this summer for seventy-two of the best young baseball players in the United States."
The full coaching staff for the 2022 13U/14U ADP is as follows (Coaches' bios enclosed below):
- Field Coordinator: Jim Koerner - USA Baseball
- Pitching Coordinator: Scott Foxhall - Mississippi State University
- Hitting Coordinator: Troy Tulowitzki – University of Texas
TEAM LIGHT BLUE
- Manager: Omar Johnson - Jackson State University
- Pitching Coach: Brad Hall - Orange Lutheran (Calif.) High School
- Assistant Coach: Bryan Madsen - St. Joseph (Calif.) High School
- Manager: Erik Bakich - University of Michigan
- Pitching Coach: Larry Vucan - Southlake Carroll (Texas) High School
- Assistant Coach: Tyler Rost - Duke University
- Manager: Elton Pollock - Presbyterian College
- Pitching Coach: Eric Borba - Orange Lutheran (Calif.) High School
- Assistant Coach: Jim Maciejewski - Mauldin (S.C.) High School
- Manager: Randy Hood - UNC-Wilmington
- Pitching Coach: John Weber - Cypress (Calif.) High School
- Assistant Coach: Josh Ellison - Chaparral (Ariz.) High School
The 2022 13U/14U ADP will take place from August 1-4 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. The event will serve as an identification event for the 15U National Team, where a minimum of eight athletes will earn an invitation to the 15U National Team Trials. Additionally, at least eight athletes will be invited to the 15U National Team Trials in 2023.
USA Baseball will utilize a rolling invitation process for the 13U/14U ADP participants in 2022. Joining 24 players selected from last year's USA Baseball National Team Identification Series Champions Cup, athletes will be selected from the 2022 13U and 14U National Team Championships in both Arizona and North Carolina, and through recommendations from scouts, coaches, and the amateur baseball community.
For more information on the USA Baseball Athlete Development Program, follow @USABDevelops on Twitter.
Returning as a manager for the ADP for the second consecutive year is long-time University of Michigan Head Coach Erik Bakich. After just concluding his 10th season at the helm in Ann Arbor, he has established himself as one of the nation’s top coaches. After winning the Big Ten Tournament in 2022, Bakich led the Wolverines to an appearance in the Louisville Regional final. In 2019, Bakich’s squad enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in program history when, despite entering the NCAA Tournament unseeded, the Wolverines made it to the College World Series Final for just the third time in school history. The feat earned him National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) National Coach of the Year honors. Michigan has made four trips to the NCAA Tournament under Bakich’s guidance, and the program has claimed the Big Ten Tournament Championship twice. Before his time at Michigan, Bakich spent three years as the head coach at the University of Maryland (2010-2012). He also had stints as an assistant coach at Clemson (2002) and Vanderbilt (2003-2009). Bakich played collegiately at East Carolina University before spending a professional season in the Independent Professional Baseball League.
The head coach at Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.), Eric Borba will return for his second season as a pitching coach at the ADP. He has led one of the Trinity League’s most consistent high school programs in the nation since he arrived in 2009, amassing a 293-111-1 record and five Trinity League championships in 14 years at the helm of the Lancers. Borba also led Orange Lutheran to an unprecedented three consecutive USA Baseball National High School Invitational titles from 2017-2019, becoming the first program in the event’s history to accomplish such a feat. In addition to his success at Orange Lutheran, Borba served as the head coach for the 2016 12U National Team and was also an assistant coach for the 2014 12U National Team that won a silver medal in the 2014 COPABE Pan American “A” Championships.
Josh Ellison is set to reprise his role as an assistant coach for the 2022 ADP after serving in the same position a year ago. Currently an assistant coach at Chaparral High School (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Ellison previously served as an assistant coach at Arcadia High School (Phoenix, Ariz.). Prior to his time at Arcadia, Ellison began his coaching career at Tonopah Valley High School (Tonopah, Ariz.) in 2009 and then coached at Desert Edge (Goodyear, Ariz.) from 2011-2014 and Shadow Ridge (Surprise, Ariz.) from 2015-2016. In his playing days, Ellison was selected in the 11th round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners after a stellar high school career at Westminster Academy and amassed five years of professional baseball experience. In four years with the Mariners – where he reached Triple-A in 2004 – and one season in the Yankees system in 2005, Ellison hit .281 while collecting 217 hits, 139 runs, and 78 RBIs. He has previously assisted at other USA Baseball events as well, including the 2019 14U National Team Development Program and the 2019 and 2021 15U Trials.
University of Mississippi pitching coach and 2021 ABCA Assistant Coach of the Year Scott Foxhall is slated to be the pitching coordinator for this year’s 13U/14U Athlete Development Program. During his coaching career, Foxhall has made 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, including six consecutive trips to the NCAA Regional round. He has coached 11 major leaguers, including Gold Glove award winners and World Series Champions, and his pitching staff helped lead the Bulldogs to two consecutive College World Series appearances, culminating in an NCAA National Championship in 2021. Prior to arriving in Starkville, Foxhall spent four seasons as the pitching coach at North Carolina State (2015-2018), six years at Auburn (2009-2014), and 13 seasons at his alma mater, the College of Charleston (1996-2008). In three seasons as a player with the Cougars (1992-1994), the right-hander finished his career among the school leaders in strikeouts (156), games started (28), and innings pitched (193.2), while his nine complete games still rank No. 3 all-time at College of Charleston. The Greer, South Carolina, native has seen 56 of his pitchers selected in the MLB Draft, including 14 in the first 10 rounds of the draft.
Brad Hall is set to serve as a pitching coach at the 2022 event, bringing with him a wealth of experience having coached at the high school, collegiate, professional, and international levels. Currently the pitching coach at Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.) under fellow ADP coach Eric Borba, Hall has previously coached over 40 players who have gone on to play professionally, including 10 major leaguers and four first-round draft picks. In addition to coaching for seven seasons in the Washington Nationals minor-league system, he also has experience as an assistant coach at Barton College, Southern Arkansas University, and with the national teams of New Zealand, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. Hall spent two years as the minor-league pitching coach for the CTBC Brothers in Taiwan, as well as three seasons as a coach for the independent Southern Illinois Miners (2007-2008, 2013), where he was named the pitching coach for the 2008 Frontier League All-Star Game. The founder and director of Pitch Commander, he is also the co-author of “The Fit Formula.”
Joining the 2022 13U/14U Athlete Development Program as a manager is UNC-Wilmington Head Coach Randy Hood. He just wrapped up his third season at the helm of the Seahawks and 21st season overall with the program since joining as an assistant in 2001. During his tenure, UNCW has won six Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament championships, nine CAA regular-season titles, and made 10 appearances in the NCAA Regionals. Hood played at Campbell from 1987-1990 where he helped lead the Camels to their first NCAA Regional appearance in his senior season. In his final campaign, Hood paced the Big South Conference in batting (.366) and finished second in stolen bases with a school-record 26 thefts. Throughout his collegiate playing career, the Goldsboro native compiled a .320 batting average with 209 hits, 35 doubles, 14 home runs, 86 RBIs, and set 13 school records. Following graduation, Hood played five full seasons of professional baseball, winning a Single-A championship with the Helena Brewers in 1990 and a Double-A crown with the 1993 Birmingham Barons in the White Sox system.
Longtime Jackson State head coach Omar Johnson will make his USA Baseball coaching debut as a manager at the 2022 ADP. In 15 seasons at the helm at Jackson State, Johnson has posted 13 campaigns of 30-plus wins, including seven consecutive from 2012-2019. He has also led the Tigers to seven Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Eastern Division titles while winning over 500 games at the helm. During the 2021 season, JSU posted an undefeated 24-0 record in conference play for the first time in program history, was ranked the No. 1 team in Black College Nines (BCN) HBCU Baseball Large School Top 10 Poll, and received votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Top 30 poll a season ago. Before coaching at Jackson State, Johnson worked at the University of North Alabama for four years where he helped guide the Lions to their first South Central Regional Championship and an appearance in the 1999 NCAA II College World Series. From 2008-2010, Johnson served on the coaching staff for the German National Team which competed in the World Baseball Challenge, Baseball World Cup, and European Baseball Championships.
ADP Field Coordinator and USA Baseball Director of Player Development Jim Koerner was the head coach at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) from 2011-2021. As just the second head coach in the program’s modern-day history, Koerner took NCCU baseball to new heights in his 10 years at the helm. Under his guidance, the Eagles set the school record for wins twice, in 2013 (27) and again in 2018 (28). He also coached two MLB Draft picks with NCCU, including Corey Joyce, who became the highest selection in program history when he was taken in the 12th round by the Detroit Tigers in 2019. Before his time at NCCU, Koerner was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Buffalo from 2007-2011, helping the Bulls reach their best offensive performances in program history in 2009 and 2010. The team recorded an all-time high in wins since 1999 during the 2009 season and set the records for team batting average (.312), home runs (46), and stolen bases (71) in 2010. In those two seasons combined, the Bulls broke over 25 season, career, team, and individual records. He began his coaching career in 2001 as the head coach at Medaille College, where he helped found the program and was named the 2003 North Eastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. He broke into the Division I ranks as an assistant at Monmouth University before a stint at Marshall University.
As Director of Player Development, Koerner is responsible for developing on-field programming for the six USA Baseball national teams, three national team development programs, and the PDP League. He also produces curriculums related to player development for USABDevelops.com, the organization’s free online educational resource center.
Set to join the 2022 ADP as an assistant coach is Jim Maciejewski. The head coach at Mauldin High School (Mauldin, S.C.) for the past 13 seasons, Maciejewski added athletic director to his title in 2020. The Buffalo, New York, native started his coaching career at USC Upstate in 2005 following a four-year playing career with the Spartans. He then served as an assistant coach at Dorman High School (Roebuck, S.C.) for four seasons before getting the top job at Mauldin. In between, he coached in the New York Collegiate League in 2007, as well as for American Legion and travel baseball teams. Maciejewski has had nearly 40 players play at the collegiate level and has previously served on various USA Baseball Task Forces since 2018.
Bryan Madsen will serve as an assistant coach at the 2022 ADP. Fresh off his first season as the head coach at St. Joseph’s High School (Santa Maria, Calif.), Madsen also assisted at the USA Baseball 12U Trials last year. Prior to arriving at St. Joseph’s, he was an assistant coach at Arroyo Grande (Calif.) High School. Madsen also co-owns Coastal Empire Baseball.
Presbyterian College Head Coach Elton Pollock is slated to serve as a manager at the 2022 ADP. Recently finishing his 18th season as the leader of the Blue Hose baseball team, Pollock has amassed nearly 400 wins at his alma mater since taking over in 2005. In 2021, he guided PC to a pair of program firsts as it claimed the Big South Tournament title and earned a bid to the NCAA Championship. A former two-sport standout at Presbyterian College from 1992-1995, Pollock was a three-year letter winner with the football team and a four-year letter winner with the baseball team. Pollock set numerous records with the baseball team and remains in the top five in many career offensive categories, including home runs (34), slugging percentage (.616), triples (11), runs scored (169), and total bases (382). Following his graduation, Pollock was drafted in the 15th round of the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, spending three years in their minor league system.
Tyler Rost will make his USA Baseball coaching debut as an assistant at this year's ADP. Rost is the Director of Player Development at Duke, where he helped the Blue Devils capture the program’s first ACC Tournament title in 2021. Before he arrived in Durham, the Rootstown, Ohio, native spent two seasons at North Carolina Central (2017, 2020) and two seasons as an assistant coach at Winston Salem State (2018-2019), guiding the Rams to an HBCU National Championship and D2 Independent Tournament title in 2019. Rost has also coached at Wake Tech Community College (2016) and was a graduate assistant at Greenville University in Illinois (2014-2015). He was a four-year starter at Cedarville University from 2008-2011, earning National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) All-American and first-team all-conference honors and setting several school records, including career games played (213), hits (209), and runs scored (138). Rost also played two seasons of professional baseball with the Alpine Cowboys of the Pecos League.
2021 USA Baseball Volunteer Coach of the Year and 13-year MLB veteran Troy Tulowitzki will serve as the hitting coordinator for this year’s 13U/14U ADP. The five-time MLB All-Star and two-time Gold Glove award winner coached with both the Collegiate National Team and the 13U/14U Athlete Development Program in 2021 and is currently an assistant coach at the University of Texas. Tulowitzki will also bring with him the knowledge of playing for Team USA, having helped lead the Collegiate National Team to the gold medal at the 2004 International University Sports Federation (FISU) World University Championships in Tainan, Taiwan. Following a standout collegiate career at Long Beach State where he was twice named an All-American, he would go on to spend 13 seasons in the big leagues where he was a five-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove award winner, and two-time Silver Slugger. A career .290 hitter, he finished in the top-10 in MVP voting three times in his career and helped lead the Colorado Rockies to the first World Series in franchise history in 2007. He began his coaching career at Texas in 2019, where he works with infielders and hitters. In 2021, he helped guide the Longhorns to a Big 12 regular-season title, the No. 2 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, and a berth in the College World Series.
Another standout coach at the high school level, Larry Vucan is set to return to the 13U/14U Athlete Development Program for the second consecutive year as a pitching coach. Vucan just wrapped up his fourth season as the head coach at Southlake Carroll High School in Texas where he has already led the Dragons to a pair of Class 6A state titles in 2018 and 2019. The El Paso, Texas, native took over the Southlake Carroll program in 2017 and promptly guided his team to the state semifinals that year, earning him his first of two Dallas Morning News DFW High School Coach of the Year awards. Vucan claimed the honors after the 2019 campaign as well. He previously coached at Franklin High School (El Paso, Texas) where he spent eight seasons at the helm. Vucan has also played professionally and managed in the Italian Baseball League in Trieste, Italy, and played collegiately at New Mexico Highlands University.
Returning for his second stint as a pitching coach at the ADP in 2022 is John Weber. After finishing his 17th season as the head coach at Cypress High School (Cypress, Calif.), Weber is the longest-tenured head coach in school history. He joins this year’s staff as no stranger to USA Baseball, having served on the Task Forces for the 2014 and 2015 12U National Teams, as well as the 2015 18U National Team and 2021 15U National Team. In his time at Cypress, Weber’s teams have won 12 league championships and he was named the 2019 National High School Coach of the Year by both USA Today and Max Preps. He has also coached a handful of future professional players, including current Los Angeles Angels infielder David Fletcher and top Boston Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran. Prior to taking the job at Cypress, Weber held jobs as an assistant coach at Los Alamitos High School and Santa Ana College. He also coached in the Alaskan Summer League.
USA Baseball Names Coaching Staff for 2023 16U/17U National Team Development Program
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today named the coaching staff for the 2023 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP), including the appointment of Team USA alum and gold-medal-winning coach Brad Penny as pitching coordinator. Penny, along with field coordinator Jim Koerner, USA Baseball’s Director of Player Development, will lead the on-field programming at the event from July 26-29 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.
The NTDP, which features a 72-man roster, will include four days of games and workouts, skill development sessions, off-field educational seminars, and exposure to professional scouts, college recruiters, USA Baseball staff, and national team coaches. Additionally, the coaching staff will assess and evaluate players for possible future participation in USA Baseball national team programming.
“The coaching staff for this year’s National Team Development Program is a collection of some of the nation’s best coaches across all levels of baseball,” said Koerner. “Year in and year out, the National Team Development Program serves as a valuable event for the country’s top amateur baseball players, and we look forward to watching them interact with the coaches on this year’s staff as they prepare for future national team opportunities. We are set for another great four days of baseball this summer in North Carolina.”
In addition to Koerner and Penny, the NTDP staff includes four managers for the event. Veteran major-league hitting coach Rick Eckstein will manage Team White, while longtime University of Illinois Head Coach Dan Hartleb will lead Team Light Blue. Grambling State skipper Davin Pierre will guide Team Navy, and Georgetown Head Coach Edwin Thompson will be at the helm of Team Red.
The full coaching staff for the 2023 16U/17U NTDP is as follows (coaches’ bios enclosed below):
- Field Coordinator: Jim Koerner – USA Baseball
- Pitching Coordinator: Brad Penny
TEAM LIGHT BLUE
- Manager: Dan Hartleb – University of Illinois
- Pitching Coach: Kirk Champion
- Assistant Coach: Dave Webb – Corona Del Sol High School (Tempe, Ariz.)
- Manager: Davin Pierre – Grambling State University
- Pitching Coach: Alex Sogard – Wright State University
- Assistant Coach: Xan Barksdale
- Manager: Edwin Thompson – Georgetown University
- Pitching Coach: Marty Reed
- Assistant Coach: Curtis Pride – Gallaudet University
- Manager: Rick Eckstein
- Pitching Coach: Tom Carty – Columbia University
- Assistant Coach: Steve Stone – Hebron High School (Carrollton, Texas)
The 2023 16U/17U NTDP will take place from July 26-29 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. The roster will feature players identified from the National Team Championships in Arizona and North Carolina, as well as last year’s 2022 National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup. Twenty-four players from the 2022 15U and 16U NTIS Champions Cup have already been selected for the 2023 16U/17U NTDP.
For more information on the USA Baseball National Team Development Program, visit USABaseball.com or follow @USABDevelops on Twitter.
Xan Barksdale returns to the NTDP as an assistant coach for Team Navy this summer after previously working in the program as a coach from 2016-2018. He also served on the staff of the Collegiate National Team in 2022 as an assistant coach and in 2019 as the bullpen coach, the latter for which he earned USA Baseball’s first-ever Service Provider of the Year Award. At the collegiate level, Barksdale spent four years as an assistant coach at East Tennessee State and five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Louisville. During that time, the Cardinals won three consecutive Big East Championships (2008-2010) and advanced to the 2007 College World Series. As a player, he spent two years in the Atlanta Braves minor league system from 2004-2006. Barksdale is also the author of Amazon Best Seller, “Catching-101: The Complete Guide for Baseball Catchers.”
Tom Carty will join the NTDP staff as a pitching coach for Team White, bringing many years of college coaching experience with him to the dugout. Carty is currently the pitching coach at Columbia University, a position he was hired for in August of 2022 after six years in the same role with Long Island University (LIU). During his tenure at LIU, he helped lead the Sharks to Northeast Conference championships and NCAA Regional appearances in both 2018 and 2022, the latter two being their first tournament berths since 1972. In that time span, six of his pitchers were named to All-NEC teams, and three of them went on to sign professional baseball contracts. Carty served as the head coach at Georgia College prior to working at LIU, where he recorded an overall record of 311-169.
Former USA Baseball coach Kirk Champion rejoins the organization this summer at the 2023 NTDP as Team Light Blue’s pitching coach. Champion has featured on the coaching staffs of many high-profile national teams in the past, including at the 2001, 2009, and 2011 International Baseball Federation Baseball World Cups, the 2006 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, the 2010 Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament, and the 2011 Pan American Games. When not coaching Team USA, he has been a longtime member of the Chicago White Sox organization. Champion started in Chicago in 1989 when he was named the pitching coach of the Class-A South Bend White Sox. From there, he made his way up the minor league ladder, working in the same role with the High-A Sarasota White Sox, Double-A Birmingham Barons, and the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, Calgary Cannons, and Charlotte Knights. Champion became the minor league pitching coordinator for the organization in 2003, and he has since gone on to work as their minor league field coordinator, Director of Minor League Instruction, and most recently, Director of Minor League Pitching Instruction.
Rick Eckstein is set to take the reins as the manager of Team White at the 2023 NTDP, bringing a wealth of professional and collegiate coaching experience along with him. Eckstein started his coaching career in 1997 when he served as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Florida following the end of his playing career at the school. In 1999, he joined the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as a bullpen coach and batting practice pitcher before taking the same role with the Minnesota Twins a year later. Eckstein got his first hitting coach position shortly after this, joining the University of Georgia’s coaching staff during the 2002 and 2003 seasons. In the subsequent years, he bounced around multiple different minor league teams in that role, including the Harrisburg Senators, Vermont Expos, New Orleans Zephyrs, Memphis Redbirds, and Columbus Clippers. He got his first major league coaching role at the end of 2008 with the Washington Nationals, where he served as the hitting coach until the end of the 2013 season. Eckstein joined the Los Angeles Angels as a player information coach in 2014 before returning to the college ranks as an assistant coach for the University of Kentucky, a position he held for two years. After that, he was brought on by the Minnesota Twins as a minor league hitting coordinator and worked in that role from 2016-2018. His most recent coaching position was as the hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, which he held until the end of the 2021 season. Eckstein also has prior experience with USA Baseball, serving on the coaching staff for the Professional National Team from 2005-2008. He was an assistant at both the 2005 and 2007 International Baseball Federation’s Baseball World Cups as well as the 2006 Olympic Qualifier before serving his most recent tour with the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in China. He was named USA Baseball’s Doc Counsilman Science Award winner in 2008 for his coaching efforts through scientific data and technology with the stars and stripes in Beijing.
University of Illinois Head Coach Dan Hartleb joins the NTDP as manager of Team Light Blue in 2023 after wrapping up his 18th season leading the Fighting Illini. Hartleb is the winningest head coach in Illinois program history, recording 530 victories and counting across his tenure with the school. He has led the Illini to a pair of Big Ten titles, four appearances in the NCAA Tournament, and the program’s first Super Regional appearance in 2015. He was also named the Big Ten Coach of the Decade for the 2010s. Hartleb has previously worked with USA Baseball on a number of different occasions, including as an assistant coach for the 2021 Collegiate National Team and as a member of the staff at the 14U and 17U NTDP in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
Brad Penny rejoins the NTDP staff as a pitching coordinator after featuring in the program as a pitching coach and roving instructor last summer. He has also served as the pitching coach for the 18U National Team in each of the past two years, leading the staff to a 1.53 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 59 innings in a seven-game friendship series against Canada in 2021. In 2022, Penny was the pitching coach for the U.S. at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. Penny’s pitching staff went 8-0 at the event, posting a 2.56 ERA and striking out 65 batters in 52 innings en route to a gold medal. In addition to his USA Baseball coaching experience, Penny also donned the stars and stripes as a player when he suited up for the organization’s first Professional National Team in 1999. The squad won a silver medal at the 1999 Pan American Games, qualifying Team USA for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, where the U.S. earned the gold medal with a 4-0 defeat of Cuba. The right-hander was selected in the fifth round of the 1996 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and had a 14-year MLB playing career that included two All-Star selections and a World Series championship. The Blackwell, Oklahoma, native finished his career with 121 wins, 1,273 strikeouts, and a 4.29 ERA in 1,925.0 innings pitched in the big leagues. After making his major league debut with the Miami Marlins in 2000, he helped lead the team to the organization’s second World Series Championship in 2003 with a 4.13 ERA in 32 starts during the season. Penny made his first All-Star Game appearance in 2006 and finished that season with a 4.33 ERA, a career-high 148 strikeouts, and a league-leading 16 wins for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander made his second All-Star Game appearance amidst a 2007 season in which he had an MLB-best .800 (16-4) win percentage and finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting. He finished his playing career with stints playing for the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Detroit Tigers before returning to the Marlins in 2014 for his final season.
Davin Pierre makes his USA Baseball coaching debut as a manager at the NTDP this summer, where he will lead Team Navy. Pierre is the current head coach at Grambling State University, a position he was named to last October after leading the team as the interim head coach during the 2022 season. Prior to this, he served as an assistant under former head coach James Cooper for 12 seasons, working with the team’s hitters and infielders while also doubling as the program’s recruiting coordinator. During his lengthy tenure with the Tigers, Pierre helped the program win the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship in 2010, the school’s first conference title in 25 years, and has overseen the development of 27 all-conference selections and eight MLB Draft selections.
MLB veteran Curtis Pride joins the NTDP staff in 2023 as an assistant coach for Team Red. Pride played parts of 11 seasons in the major leagues with seven different teams after being taken in the 10th round of the 1986 MLB Draft. Upon his debut with the Montreal Expos in 1993, he became the first deaf player to make the majors in 48 years, and he later became the first deaf player to play a full season in MLB three years later. For his career, Pride hit .250 with 20 home runs and 82 RBIs. Pride became the head coach at Gallaudet University after his retirement from professional baseball and has held the position for the last 14 years. During his tenure with the school, he has led the program to 161 wins and has been named the Northeastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year on two separate occasions. Additionally, Pride was a part of the coaching staff at the 2013 NTDP and coached Team USA to a gold medal in the World Physically Challenged Tournament in 2014.
Former major league coach Marty Reed brings over 30 years of coaching experience to the NTDP this summer, where he will be working as a pitching coach for Team Red. Reed was most recently in the Atlanta Braves organization, where he last served as the team’s bullpen coach from 2016-2020. Prior to that, he worked as the pitching coach for the Mississippi Braves and the Gwinnett Braves, the club’s AA and AAA affiliates. He also previously worked in the minor leagues with the Dodgers, serving as the pitching coach for the Vero Beach Dodgers and the Jacksonville Suns before being promoted to Los Angeles’s general minor league pitching coordinator from 2006-2008. At the collegiate level, Reed helmed the Pfeiffer University baseball team from 1996-1999.
Returning to the USA Baseball coaching ranks as Team Navy’s pitching coach is Alex Sogard, who previously managed Team Stars on the 2021 Collegiate National Team staff. Sogard has been the head coach at Wright State University since 2019, and since he took over, he has helped bring the program to new heights. In Sogard’s first year at the helm, he led the Raiders to a 42-17 record, which stands as the best performance under a first-year head coach in school history. This performance carried over following the COVID-shortened 2020 season, with the team winning the Horizon League Baseball Championship and qualifying for an NCAA Tournament berth in each of the past three seasons. Sogard has won two Horizon League Coach of the Year awards at the helm of the program. Prior to his coaching career, Sogard won two national championships as a player at Oregon State and played five years in the minor leagues.
Steve Stone will serve as an assistant coach at the 2023 NTDP this summer, returning to the USA Baseball ranks after previously coaching in the Tournament of Stars from 2016-2018. Stone recently wrapped up his 24th year as the head baseball coach at Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas. He founded the program upon the school’s inception in 1999 and has won over 500 games at the helm in the years since. In total, Stone has 28 years of coaching experience, previously spending time at Rider and Euless Trinity High Schools. He is a former standout catcher at Texas Christian University, where he was named team MVP in 1988.
Georgetown Head Coach Edwin Thompson will serve as the manager of Team Red at the 2023 NTDP following the conclusion of his season with the Hoyas. He was named to his current position in September 2020, and in his second season at the helm in 2022, Thompson won Big East Coach of the Year while helping the team achieve a historic season. Thompson led the Hoyas to a program-record 32 wins–a 26-win jump from the year prior–and a Big East Conference Tournament appearance for the first time since 2018. Additionally, he guided freshman Owen Carapelloti to a Second-Team All-American nomination and the team’s first-ever Big East Freshman of the Year award. Prior to taking over at Georgetown, he worked as the head coach at Eastern Kentucky and Bates College and as an assistant coach at Duke, Georgia State, and UMaine Farmington. Thompson has also worked with USA Baseball in the past, serving as the manager of Team Stripes during the 2016 Tournament of Stars and a pitching coach during the 17U NTDP in 2015. Most recently, he was a field manager at the 2021 NTDP.
Four-time gold medal-winning coach and 2013 USA Baseball Developmental Coach of the Year David Webb returns to the staff at the 2023 NTDP as an assistant for Team Light Blue after working in the same role last year. Webb has served as a coach on four USA Baseball national teams over the years, including three stints as manager, with his teams accumulating a 38-1 overall record in international play. As an assistant for the 2007 14U National Team, he helped lead the squad to a perfect 14-0 record in both the qualifier and COPABE Pan Am Championships in Guatemala and Puerto Rico, respectively. Webb then took the helm of the 14U team for the next two years, winning another qualifier in Guatemala in 2008 before leading the 2009 team to a gold medal at the COPABE Pan Am Championships in Ecuador. Most recently, he guided the inaugural 12U National Team to gold at the 2013 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in Taiwan. Webb is also one of the most successful high school coaches in the nation, with over 300 wins in 18 seasons as the head coach at Corona del Sol High School (Tempe, Ariz.). His 2009 team claimed the Arizona 5A state championship, and his Aztec squads finished among the top three teams in the state for three consecutive years from 2018-2020.
Team USA Erases 11-Run Deficit to Win Gold
AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Team USA (9-0) overcame an 11-run deficit to win gold at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier with a 29-28 win over Venezuela (6-3) in seven innings on Sunday in Aguascalientes.
When Team USA faced Venezuela in the Opening Round, nearly a week earlier, the 25-24 game ended with a U.S. walk-off home run. Fast forward to Sunday and the two teams combined for eight more runs scored in the contest, but this time it ended with a walk-off drag bunt.
The battle between the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier’s two highest scoring teams lived up to the hype. Team USA led 15-6 in the third before Venezuela scored 19 unanswered runs to lead by 10 in the fifth, 25-15. The U.S. added two in the bottom of the fifth, but Venezuela added three in the sixth to earn the game’s largest lead at 28-17 headed into the final inning.
With three outs left in the game, Team USA stayed calm, collected, and patient at the plate to score seven until it had one out to go. Zaylon Johnson stepped up to the plate with the bases-loaded and hit a grand slam to tie the game. One inning later, an error on a sacrifice bunt allowed Team USA to win gold and set a 12U National Team record for most runs scored in a single game.
The game started by Venezuela scoring one in the top of the first. Leyland Henry, Johnson, and Nathan Handley-White responded with homers; three-run, solo, and a three-run, respectively, in the bottom frame to take a 7-1 lead.
Venezuela stayed in the game by using home runs, singles and wild pitches to score five, closing the gap to three runs in the second.
A Ty Glaus RBI-double, a Ryder Serna RBI, a Jett Schoolcraft RBI-single, and a Tyler Early RBI kept Venezuela at bay through two complete.
In the bottom of the third, Team USA kept the pressure on thanks to a two-RBI double from Bryant Ju and a two-run home run by Boston Targac. The stars and stripes took a 15-6 lead into the fourth inning.
That's when Venezuela took control, scoring 19 unanswered runs in the span of two innings to flip the script and go up by 10 after four-and-a-half innings for its first lead since the top of the first.
Targac tried to power Team USA with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth, but a Venezuela double-play two batters later ended any momentum that was gathering.
A three-run homer from Venezuela in the top of the sixth provided the largest lead for either team, 28-17.
Team USA stayed resilient, fought back with its impressive 11-run sixth inning and walk-off run in the seventh to head home with a gold medal.
Team USA had five players earn honors at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. Johnson earned tournament MVP honors and Jacob Miller earned the tournament’s Best Pitcher award, recording the most wins (3) and lowest ERA (0.50). Additionally, Early, Targac, and Johnson were named to the All-Tournament Team at left field, catcher, and designated hitter, respectfully.
With the top-four finish at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier, Team USA will head to the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in Tainan, Taiwan, this summer. The U.S. is the defending champion after defeating Venezuela in the 2022 edition. This will be the sixth World Cup appearance for the 12U National Team after winning four of the five that it has previously participated in. Stay tuned to @USABaseball12U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the 2023 12U National Team.
Shutout Sends Team USA to Gold Medal Game
AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Team USA (8-0) punched its ticket to the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier gold medal game with a 13-0 win over Panama (4-4) on Saturday in Aguascalientes.
In a rematch of the 2022 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Championship Game, No. 1 Team USA will face off against No. 3 Venezuela (6-2) in the final game of the U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier on Sunday. In the Opening Round, the U.S. used a walk-off home run to come out victorious over Venezuela, 25-24, in a back-and-forth game last Saturday.
Against Panama, Team USA was paced by a strong performance on the mound from Jacob Miller (3-0). The righty pitched 4.0 innings, gave up just six hits, struck out four, and did not allow a run. Miller lowered his WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier-leading ERA to 0.50.
On offense, Greyson Wuis (4), Boston Targac (3), and Jett Schoolcraft (2) led the way with multi-RBI performances.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Leyland Henry jump started Team USA in the bottom of the first with a solo home run, providing an early lead.
- In the bottom of the second, Wuis gave the red, white, and blue a 5-0 advantage by smashing a grand slam to right center.
- Targac kept things rolling in the third with a two-run home run to dead center, giving Team USA a 7-0 lead.
- Team USA wrapped up its scoring in the bottom of the fourth with six runs. Bryant Ju laced an RBI-single through the left side, Targac reached on a fielding error to score Zaylon Johnson, Schoolcraft added two with a two-RBI single, and Tyler Early came around to score on a wild pitch.
- Michael Ohman came on in the top of the fifth to close the door on Panama and give Team USA the 13-0 victory.
- The win extended the 12U National Team international competition win streak to 20, dating back to 2019.
- Team USA has scored 10 or more runs in every game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier and has won seven of its eight games by double-digits.
- Miller was able to work his way out of two bases-loaded jams to keep Panama scoreless.
- Henry has now hit a home run in six of his last eight games.
- Team USA and Venezuela are the two highest-scoring teams in the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier, averaging 16.88 and 19.12 runs per game, respectively.
- When Team USA defeated Venezuela, 25-24, in the Opening Round of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier, the 49 combined runs set a Team USA 12U National Team record for most combined runs scored in a single game.
Team USA will face Venezuela on Sunday afternoon in the final game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. First pitch is set for 2:00 p.m. local/4:00 p.m. ET at Cecadi. Stay tuned to @USABaseball12U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the 2023 12U National Team.
Victory Over Mexico Secures Opening Round Sweep for Team USA
AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Team USA (7-0) completed an Opening Round sweep of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier with a 10-0 win over Mexico (6-1) on Friday in Aguascalientes.
The victory earned Team USA the No. 1 seed in the semifinals, and it will face off against No. 4 Panama on Saturday morning. No. 2 Mexico will face No. 3 Venezuela on Saturday afternoon.
Friday’s game against Mexico was a continuation of the contest that began on Monday that was delayed due to a power outage. The game resumed play with Team USA leading 5-0 in the bottom of the third. The stars and stripes added five more runs to earn its sixth double-digit victory in seven games.
Tyler Early (2-0) earned the win with a lights-out performance. The lefty worked 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just four hits and striking out eight. He also contributed at the plate, going 1-for-2 with an RBI, two walks and a run scored. Leyland Henry led the offense with a 2-for-2 performance, recording an RBI-single and a solo home run.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Henry got Team USA on the board in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI-single, scoring Early. A Mexico error resulted in two more U.S. runs, creating a 3-0 lead.
- In the bottom of the third, Henry knocked a solo homer and Zaylon Johnson later scored on a fielding error. When the game resumed on Friday, Early got the scoring going with an RBI-single and Boston Targac scored on a passed ball to cap a four-run inning, giving Team USA a 7-0 advantage.
- Mexico loaded the bases in the top of the fifth but Nathan Handley-White came on to pitch in relief and stranded the runners by striking out two in seven pitches to preserve Team USA’s lead.
- In the bottom of the fifth, Jett Schoolcraft laced an RBI ground-rule double to center field before Greyson Wuis ended the game with a two-RBI ground-rule double, giving Team USA its 10-0 final score.
- Team USA swept the Opening Round of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier and secured the No. 1 seed heading into the Medal Rounds.
- The win extended the 12U National Team international competition win streak to 19, dating back to 2019.
- Team USA has scored 10+ runs in every game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier and has won six of its seven games by double-digits.
- Early and Handley-White combined for 10 strikeouts in five innings.
- Where Team USA players rank on the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier Leaderboard:
- Batting Average: T-2nd – Leyland Henry (.667)
- Home Runs: T-2nd – Tyler Early (6)
- RBI: 5th – Greyson Wuis (14)
- Runs: T-2nd – Tyler Early & Zaylon Johnson (15)
- OBP: 1st – Leyland Henry (.815); 3rd – Tyler Early (.759)
- ERA: 1st – Jacob Miller (0.75)
- IP: 2nd – Jacob Miller (8.0)
- SO: T- 2nd – Jacob Miller & Tyler Early (8)
Team USA will face Panama on Saturday morning in the semifinals of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. First pitch is set for 10:00 a.m. local/12:00 p.m. ET at Cecadi. Stay tuned to @USABaseball12U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the 2023 12U National Team.
Team USA Records Another Double-Digit Victory with Win Over Puerto Rico
AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Team USA (6-0) remained undefeated in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier with a 20-5 win over Puerto Rico (2-5) on Thursday in Aguascalientes.
The U.S. enters the final day of the Opening Round tied for the No. 1 seed with Team Mexico. The two will face off in a continuation of their suspended game – which the U.S. leads 5-0 in the third inning – on Friday to determine final standings. Venezuela and Panama have also clinched spots in the top four and have qualified for the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in Tainan, Taiwan later this summer.
Thursday’s victory was due in large part to the offensive performances of Jett Schoolcraft and Tyler Early, who each recorded five RBIs. Early had a two-run and a three-run home run in the contest and has now homered in each of his last four games.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Wuis used heads-up base running in the first inning to score on a wild pitch and give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
- In the top of the second, Schoolcraft busted the scoring open with a grand slam to put Team USA ahead 5-0.
- Puerto Rico got on the board in the bottom of the second with two runs from walks and a wild pitch to come within three at 5-2.
- Team USA stayed on the attack in the top of the third, scoring four runs. Bryant Ju used a stolen base and a failed pickoff attempt to score before Early launched a three-run home run to give the stars and stripes a 10-2 lead.
- The U.S. kept the momentum going in the top of the fourth inning with seven runs. Ryder Serna started with a solo home run, Early launched a 2-run homer, Ju came through with a two-RBI double, Boston Targac hit an RBI-single, and Schoolcraft capped off the inning with an RBI-single to put the stars in stripes in front by 15.
- Puerto Rico used a wild pitch and an RBI-fielder’s choice to keep the game alive in the bottom of the fourth, cutting the U.S. lead to 17-4.
- Ty Glaus tacked on the final runs of the game for the U.S. in the top of the fifth with a three-run home run to give Team USA a 20-4 advantage.
- A single and an error led to another Puerto Rico run in the bottom of the fifth, but that was all it mustered as Team USA closed out the game, 20-5.
- Team USA and Team Mexico are the only undefeated teams left in the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier.
- The win extended the 12U National Team international competition win streak to 18, dating back to 2019.
- Team USA has scored 10+ runs in every game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier and has won five of its six games by double-digits.
- Nine different players for the U.S. have hit multiple home runs.
- All 18 players on Team USA’s roster have recorded at least one run scored.
Team USA will face Mexico on Friday afternoon, finishing the suspended game from earlier in the week, to close out the opening round of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. The game will resume in the third inning with the U.S. leading 5-0 and is set for 2:00 p.m. local/4:00 p.m. ET at Estadio Ferrocarrilero. Stay tuned to @USABaseball12U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the 2023 12U National Team.
Team USA Qualifies for World Cup with Victory Over Dominican Republic
AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Team USA (5-0) clinched a spot in the in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Wednesday with a 19-9 win over the Dominican Republic (2-4) at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in Aguascalientes.
The win kept Team USA undefeated as it heads into the final two days of the Opening Round and extended the 12U National Team international competition win streak to 17, dating back to 2019.
Up next, the U.S. will look to clinch the No. 1 seed in the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier ahead of the medal rounds on Saturday and Sunday.
Against the Dominican Republic, Team USA was paced by big offensive days from Tyler Early (3), Greyson Wuis (2), Leyland Henry (2), Bryant Ju (2), Ryder Serna (3), Jett Schoolcraft (2), and Ty Glaus (3) who all recorded multiple RBIs.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The Dominican Republic capitalized on walks from Team USA and used a two-run single to take an early 2-0 lead.
- Early hit his third leadoff home run of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier to start the scoring for Team USA in the bottom of the first to make the score 2-1, Dominican Republic.
- The Dominican Republic lead didn’t last long as the stars and stripes scored seven in the bottom of the second to take an 8-2 lead. Serna hit a 3-run home run, Early scored Glaus with an RBI-single, Henry launched a two-run home run of his own, and Ju plated one with an RBI-double.
- Two home runs gave the Dominican Republic a combined three runs to close in on Team USA’s lead in the top of the third, making the score 8-5.
- Glaus responded with a two-run home run in the bottom of the third to give the red, white, and blue a 10-5 advantage.
- The Dominican Republic scored one run in the fourth inning and threatened with the bases loaded. Schoolcraft came on in relief and worked out of the jam to give the U.S. went a 10-6 lead heading into the bottom frame.
- Team USA kept the offense going in its half of the fourth as Ju,Schoolcraft, and Wuis all contributed with an RBI-single, an RBI-double and an RBI fielder’s choice, respectively, to put the U.S. ahead 14-6.
- In the top of the fifth, the Dominican mounted a comeback attempt by adding three runs to make the score 14-9.
- In the final frame, Team USA capitalized on walks and wild pitches from the Dominican Republic to score four runs. Wuis stepped in and delivered an RBI-single for the final run of the inning and the game.
- Team USA and Team Mexico are the only undefeated teams left in the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. Both will have one game on Thursday before resuming their suspended game on Friday.
- Maddox McBryde (1-0) was credited with the win after pitching 2.0 innings in relief and striking out two.
- Early has now hit three leadoff home runs.
- Henry has recorded at least one home run in four of his five games.
- Six different players for Team USA recorded an RBI in Wednesday’s contest.
- By qualifying, the 12U National Team will compete in its sixth World Cup, having won four of the five that it has previously participated in.
Team USA will face Puerto Rico on Thursday morning in the next game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. First pitch is set for 10:00 a.m. local/12:30 p.m. ET at Estadio Ferrocarrilero. Stay tuned to @USABaseball12U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the 2023 12U National Team.
Team USA Moves to 4-0 with Win Against Panama
AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Team USA (4-0) used seven home runs to defeat Panama (2-3), 18-8, Tuesday afternoon to stay undefeated in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in Aguascalientes.
After Monday night’s game against Mexico was suspended due to a power outage, Team USA came out swinging against Panama. Tyler Early (4-for-4, two home runs, two RBIs and two runs scored) and Leyland Henry Jr. (3-for-4, two RBIs) paced the offense while the pitching staff of Nathan Handley-White, Michael Ohman, and Jacob Miller (2-0) allowed just four earned runs.
The victory pushes the 12U National Team international competition win streak to 16, dating back to 2019.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Early took Panama deep on the third pitch of the game for his second leadoff home run of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier and put the U.S. ahead, 1-0.
- Team USA put up 10 runs in the second inning. Boston Targac scored on a wild pitch, Henry followed with an RBI-single, and Zaylon Johnson cleared the bases with a grand slam. Two hitters later, Targac returned to the plate and hit a two-run home run to right field. Omar Henriquez scored on a wild pitch and a Henry hit-by-pitch scored Jett Schoolcraft to cap off the scoring, giving Team USA an 11-0 lead.
- Panama got onto the board in the bottom of the second with a solo home run to come within 10 at 11-1, Team USA.
- Two RBI-singles and a wild pitch gave Panama two more in the bottom of the third to cut Team USA’s lead down to single digits at 11-4.
- Early extended the stars and stripes’ lead in the top of the fourth with his second home run, making the score 12-4.
- In the bottom of the fourth, Panama capitalized on errors from Team USA to plate four and bring the score to 12-8.
- Henriquez responded in the top of the fifth, scoring Bryant Ju on a sacrifice fly to make the Team USA lead 13-8.
- The U.S. broke things open again in the top of the sixth as Greyson Wuis hit a 3-run home run and Ju followed with a 2-run home run for a five-run inning. Team USA took an 18-8 lead into the bottom of the sixth and closed out the game.
- Five different players for Team USA had multi-hit performances: Early (4), Henry (3), Targac (3), Johnson (2), and Knight (2).
- With the win, Miller moved to 2-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.75.
- Six different players for Team USA hit at least one home run.
- Team USA has now won three of its four games by double-digits.
Team USA will face the Dominican Republic on Wednesday morning in the next game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. First pitch is set for 10:00 a.m. local/12:00 p.m. ET at Estadio Ferrocarrilero. Stay tuned to @USABaseball12U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the 2023 12U National Team.
Team USA Continues to Roll with 14-4 Win Over Cuba
AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Team USA (3-0) continued its strong start in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in Aguascalientes, Mexico, by defeating Cuba (1-2), 14-4, on Sunday evening to remain undefeated.
Zaylon Johnson and Greyson Wuis led the way offensively for the stars and stripes, while Jacob Miller shined on the mound. Johnson went 2-for-3 with two home runs, two RBIs and four runs scored, while Wuis added a team-high three RBIs on 2-for-3 hitting with a walk and three runs scored. Miller (1-0) worked 3.1 innings in relief, striking out four while giving up one run.
The 12U National Team international competition win streak extended to 15, dating back to 2019 with the victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Tyler Early got things going for Team USA, sending the second pitch of the game over the right field wall.
- Cuba answered in the bottom of the second by scoring on a wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk. Miller came on in relief and worked out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the score 2-1, Cuba.
- Johnson quickly tied the game at 2-2 with a solo home run in the top of the second.
- Team USA added three more in the top of the third, taking its first lead of the game at 5-2 thanks to a Leyland Henry home run, a Bryant Ju RBI, and Johnson’s second home run in as many innings.
- The red, white, and blue kept things going in the fourth with a sacrifice fly from Ju, an RBI-single from Wuis, a Cuba error, and a Jett Schoolcraft RBI-single, extending its lead to 9-3.
- Team USA took advantage of a few more Cuba miscues in the fifth, plating two on a throwing error and one on a wild pitch. Wuis capped off the five-run inning with a home run to deep right field, scoring Boston Targac, putting the U.S. up by double-digits, 14-3.
- Cuba’s comeback attempt fell short in the bottom of the fifth, scoring only one run via an RBI groundout, to end the game at 14-4.
- Team USA has now scored in every inning (15) of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier.
- With the two-hit performance, Henry is now 4-for-5 in the event with three home runs, six RBIs, four walks, and three hit-by-pitches.
- Miller earned the win with 3.1 innings of relief, striking out four. He now leads the Americas Qualifier in strikeouts with seven.
- Henry, Johnson, Targac, and Wuis all recorded two hits on the day.
Team USA will face undefeated host Mexico under the lights on Monday in the next game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. First pitch is set for 8:30 p.m. local/10:30 p.m. ET at Estadio Ferrocarrilero. Stay tuned to @USABaseball12U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the 2023 12U National Team.
Team USA Wins Slugfest Against Venezuela
AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Team USA (2-0) came out victorious, 25-24, over Venezuela (1-1) in the highest scoring game in 12U National Team history in its second game of the World Baseball Softball Classic (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
The U.S. hit eight home runs in the win, with the final one coming as a walk-off from Boston Targac. Targac was second on the team in RBIs, trailing only Maddox McBryde who had seven on 2-for-2 hitting with two home runs and a walk.
The back-and-forth game featured seven lead changes and a total of 15 home runs. The win was the 14th consecutive victory for the 12U National Team in international competition, dating back to 2019.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Venezuela used walks and singles to jump out to an early 4-0 lead to start off the game.
- Team USA didn’t stay down long as a bases-loaded walk was followed by a McBryde grand slam. Bryant Ju stepped in to face a new pitcher for Venezuela and launched a home run of his own to put the U.S. ahead, 6-4.
- Three Venezuela home runs gave the away team a 10-6 lead in the top of the second.
- McBryde responded in the bottom of the frame with his second home run, scoring Leyland Henry and Michael Ohman. Greyson Wuis sent a sacrifice fly to center to tie things up at 10-10.
- The lead and momentum swung back to Venezuela when two bases-loaded walks were followed by a grand slam and a two-run home run to make the score 18-10 in the third.
- Henry kept the hit party going, launching a home run to dead center to score Tyler Early. With the bases load, Zaylon Johnson drew a walk to plate another run. Wuis followed by hitting what was initially a grand slam, however, after an appeal that he did not step on home plate was upheld, he was credited with a triple and called out. Team USA trailed 18-16 heading into the fourth inning.
- The top of the fourth was the only scoreless frame in the game as Johnson locked down Venezuela.
- Jett Schoolcraft brought the score within one in the bottom of the inning with an RBI ground rule double. With Henry on third and Schoolcraft on second, Ty Glaus hammered a ball to deep right field, giving the U.S. a 20-18 lead.
- A home run and a fielder’s choice from Venezuela in the fifth inning tied the game once again at 20-20.
- Ryder Serna picked up where he left off the day before, sending a ball to deep left field for a 2-run home run to give the stars and stripes the lead once again at 22-20.
- With the game on the line in the top of the sixth, Venezuela answered with four runs to take a 24-22 lead into the last half inning.
- After Ju reached base safely, Johnson brought him home with a game-tying two-run home run. Targac stepped to the plate and ended the game with a walk-off home run to left center field.
- Eleven different players for Team USA recorded at least one hit.
- McBryde led the team with seven RBIs and added three runs scored.
- Johnson made an impact on both sides of the dish, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs to go along with 2.2 innings pitched and five strikeouts.
- Johnson (3), Targac (3), Serna (2), McBryde (2), and Wuis (2) all had multi-hit days for Team USA.
- Early (1-0) was credited with the win after using only two pitches to escape a jam in the top of the sixth.
Team USA will face Cuba in the next game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. First pitch is set for 3:00 p.m. local/5:00 p.m. ET at Estadio Ferrocarrilero. Stay tuned to @USABaseball12U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the 2023 12U National Team.
Team USA Kicks Off WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier with 16-1 Victory
AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico – Team USA (1-0) launched five home runs and threw a collective no-hitter on the way to a 16-1 victory over Brazil (0-1) in its opening game of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Four different players had a multi-RBI performance with Ryder Serna going 2-for-2 with two home runs and five RBIs to lead the way.
The victory kicked off a stretch of seven games in as many days in the opening round of the Americas Qualifier. Additionally, the result marked the 13th consecutive win for the 12U National Team in international competition, dating back to 2019.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The red, white, and blue started the game with seven runs in the bottom of the first. Leyland Henry launched a home run to left field to plate the first three and two Brazil errors followed to make the lead 5-0. Serna plated Boston Targac with his first home run of the day to close out the inning.
- Maddox McBryde kept the momentum going in the bottom of the second, sending a ball over the left field fence to plate Henry. Serna followed suit with his second home run of the day, scoring three to make things 12-0 in favor of the U.S.
- Despite Team USA throwing a combined no-hitter, Brazil was able to plate a run after a walk, balk, and wild pitch in the top of the third.
- The stars and stripes quickly responded with three more runs in the bottom of the frame, this time thanks to a Nathan Handley-White three-run home run to make things 15-1.
- After a quick shut down top of the fourth, the U.S. only needed one run to end the game via run-rule. Colton Byrnes started the inning off with a single, and scored the winning run on an error two batters later.
- Team USA recorded five home runs that came from: Henry, Serna (2), Maddox, and Handley-White.
- The pitching trio of Jacob Miller, Cooper Knight, and Michael Ohman combined for eight strikeouts and no hits while allowing just one run.
- Ohman (1-0) was credited with the win after pitching one inning and striking out three on 11 pitches.
Team USA will face Venezuela in the next game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. First pitch is set for 3:00 p.m. local/5:00 p.m. ET at Cecadi, Ojocaliente. Stay tuned to @USABaseball12U on Twitter for the most up-to-date news about the 2023 12U National Team.
USA Baseball Finalizes Roster for WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier
FLOWER MOUND, Texas – USA Baseball today finalized the 12U National Team roster that will compete in the upcoming World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. The final 18-man roster was selected following three days of Training Camp and will travel to Aguascalientes, Mexico, to participate in the nine-team tournament from May 19-28.
With a top-four finish in the qualifier, Team USA would secure its spot in this summer’s WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup from July 28-August 6 in Tainan, Taiwan. The U.S. is currently the defending world champion after winning gold at last summer’s tournament with an unbeaten 9-0 record.
“All twenty-four athletes who competed at Training Camp displayed great talent and character,” said 12U National Team Manager David Sharp. “Deciding a final roster is always a difficult task, but we feel that the eighteen athletes who we have selected to travel to Mexico will represent the United States well both on and off the field. We look forward to competing against some of the best baseball nations in the world, starting on Friday against Colombia.”
The 18-man roster announcement comes after three days of Training Camp in Flower Mound, Texas. During Training Camp, players competed in intrasquad games, on-field workouts, and more, giving the coaching staff ample opportunity to evaluate the athletes in game situations.
Seven players on the roster were originally identified at the 2022 National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup in Cary, North Carolina. Colton Byrnes, Tyler Early, Kingston George, Omar Henriquez, Michael Ohman, Jett Schoolcraft, and Ryder Serna all came through USA Baseball’s NTIS, which is the organization’s most comprehensive player identification process spanning all six regions of the United States.
In addition, seven different states are represented on the 18-man roster. California leads all states with seven representatives on the team, while Texas follows with five.
Three-time Team USA coach and world champion manager David Sharp will lead the 12U National Team at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier. Sharp is making his second appearance on staff as manager after he led the stars and stripes to a gold medal at the 2017 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup. Sharp–who was named the 2017 USA Baseball Developmental Coach of the Year following the 12U National Team’s gold-medal run–also served as an assistant for the program in 2015 and 2016. The former Huntsville High School (Huntsville, Ala.) Head Coach is currently the Deep South Supervisor for Prep Baseball Report Alabama.
Sharp will be assisted by three coaches with extensive experience. Pitching coach Jason Sekany is making his fifth appearance on a 12U National Team staff and has had extreme success with the U.S., helping guide the program to three gold medals. Longtime Team USA coach Lunch McKenzie and legendary Alabama high school coach Roger Wright round out the Team USA coaching staff as assistant coaches. McKenzie has been a mainstay in USA Baseball programming over the past 20 years, including a successful stint as the 16U National Team manager in 1998. Wright makes his Team USA coaching debut after over two decades at the helm at Buckhorn High School (New Market, Ala.).
The 12U National Team has won five gold medals in international competition, most recently winning gold at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in 2022. Additionally, the U.S. has medaled in all three WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifiers it has competed in, earning silver medals in 2014 and 2016 before capturing gold in 2018. Overall, the 12U National Team owns a 23-4 all-time record at WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifiers.
The U.S. begins play at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier on Friday, May 19, against Colombia. First pitch is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. ET, with all games streaming live on YouTube. Team USA’s schedule can be found here.
For the most up-to-date information on the 12U National Team, visit USABaseball.com or follow @USABaseball and @USABaseball12U on Twitter.
2023 12U National Team Roster
(Name; Position; Hometown)
- Colton Byrnes; INF/C/RHP; Truckee, Calif.
- Tyler Early; INF/LHP; Ferriday, La.
- Kingston George; OF/RHP; Gunter, Texas
- Ty Glaus; INF; Del Mar, Calif.
- Nathan Handley-White; RHP/INF; Bradenton, Fla.
- Omar Henriquez; INF; New Milford, N.J.
- Leyland Henry; INF; Houston, Texas
- Zaylon Johnson; INF/RHP; Stonewall, La.
- Bryant Ju; C/INF; Cerritos, Calif.
- Cooper Knight; OF/LHP; Buda, Texas
- Jesse Maddox; LHP/OF; San Diego, Calif.
- Maddox McBryde; RHP/C; Tomball, Texas
- Jacob Miller; RHP/INF; Temecula, Calif.
- Michael Ohman; LHP; South San Francisco, Calif.
- Jett Schoolcraft; OF/LHP; Beaverton, Ore.
- Ryder Serna; INF; Redlands, Calif.
- Boston Targac; C/INF; Flatonia, Texas
- Greyson Wuis; INF; Kalamazoo, Mich.
USA Baseball Reveals Training Camp Roster for WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today named the 24-man roster for the 2023 12U National Team Training Camp, which will take place from May 13-15 in Flower Mound, Texas. Following the conclusion of Training Camp, the final 18-man roster will travel to Aguascalientes, Mexico, for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier from May 19-28.
The 12U National Team Training Camp will feature three days of intrasquad games, on-field workouts, and more. The final 18-man roster will then go to Mexico, where a top-four finish would secure Team USA’s spot in the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup from July 28-August 6 in Tainan, Taiwan.
“We feel confident that the Training Camp roster we have assembled is full of high-character and talented individuals,” said Cole Beeker, USA Baseball’s 12U National Team Director. “Our coaching staff has done extensive work to find the best twenty-four players to compete for a spot on the final roster, and we are excited to get on the field on May 13 to begin preparing to represent the United States in Mexico.”
The 24-man Training Camp roster features 11 players who participated in the 2022 11U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup in Cary, North Carolina. The NTIS is the most comprehensive player identification program offered by USA Baseball, utilizing a six-region system to find the best amateur players throughout the nation. Five players on the Training Camp roster participated for the Northwest region at the 2022 NTIS, the most representatives from a single region on the roster.
Overall, eight states are represented on the 12U National Team Training Camp roster. California boasts 10 players on the roster to lead all states, followed by Texas’ five representatives.
David Sharp will lead Team USA at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier, marking his second stint as manager and fourth overall appearance on staff. Sharp led the 12U National Team to a gold medal at the 2017 WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup as manager after helping guide the U.S. to a gold medal two years prior as an assistant coach. Currently the Deep South Supervisor for Prep Baseball Report (PBR) Alabama, Sharp spent six seasons as the head coach at Huntsville High School (Huntsville, Ala.). He is joined on staff by longtime U.S. coach Lunch McKenzie, four-time assistant Jason Sekany, and Alabama high school coaching legend Roger Wright.
The 12U National Team has won five gold medals in international competition, most recently winning gold at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in 2022. Additionally, the U.S. has medaled in all three WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifiers it has competed in, earning silver medals in 2014 and 2016 before capturing gold in 2018. Overall, the 12U National Team owns a 23-4 all-time record at WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifiers.
Click here to view the schedule for the 12U National Team program in 2023, including Training Camp and the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier.
For the most up-to-date information on the 12U National Team, visit USABaseball.com and follow @USABaseball and @USABaseball12U on Twitter.
2023 12U National Team Training Camp Roster:
(Name; Position; Hometown)
- *Colton Byrnes; INF/C/RHP; Truckee, Calif.
- *Tyler Early; INF/LHP; Ferriday, La.
- *Kingston George; OF/RHP; Gunter, Texas
- Ty Glaus; INF; Del Mar, Calif.
- *Adam Gonzalez; INF/RHP; Canyon Country, Calif.
- Nathan Handley-White; RHP/INF; Bradenton, Fla.
- *Omar Henriquez; INF; New Milford, N.J.
- Leyland Henry; INF; Houston, Texas
- Zaylon Johnson; INF/RHP; Stonewall, La.
- Bryan Johnson Jr.; RHP/INF; Chattanooga, Tenn.
- Bryant Ju; C/INF; Cerritos, Calif.
- Cooper Knight; OF/LHP; Buda, Texas
- Jesse Maddox; LHP/OF; San Diego, Calif.
- *Uriyeh "Ozzee" Marguth; INF/OF; Gresham, Ore.
- Maddox McBryde; RHP/C; Tomball, Texas
- Jacob Miller; RHP/INF; Temecula, Calif.
- *Jaylen O'Bannon; RHP; South San Francisco, Calif.
- *Michael Ohman; LHP; South San Francisco, Calif.
- *Jett Schoolcraft; OF/LHP; Beaverton, Ore.
- *Ryder Serna; INF; Redlands, Calif.
- Brandon Sweeney; INF/C; Menlo Park, Calif.
- Boston Targac; C/INF; Flatonia, Texas
- *Jon Robert "JR" Waddell; INF/OF; Shreveport, La.
- Greyson Wuis; INF; Kalamazoo, Mich.
*denotes NTIS Champions Cup participant
USA Baseball Regional Clinic Host Sites Announced
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today the four host sites for its 2023 Regional Clinics this fall as part of its ongoing Coaches Clinic program. USA Baseball Regional Clinics are two-day immersive events hosted in professional baseball facilities that provide coaches of all levels unprecedented levels of instruction from former Major League Baseball (MLB) players, coaches from MLB and Minor League Baseball, USA Baseball national team alums, national team coaches, and highly decorated coaches from the college and high school ranks.
The 2023 events will be hosted at Wintrust Field in Schaumburg, Illinois, from September 9–10; at Trenton Thunder Ballpark in Trenton, New Jersey, from September 16–17; at AT&T Field in Chattanooga, Tennessee, from October 21-22; and a clinic presented in partnership with MLB and the Arizona Fall League at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Arizona from November 4–5.
“We are thrilled to once again host four USA Baseball Regional Clinics in professional ballparks around the United States in 2023,” said Andrew Bartman, USA Baseball’s Director of Coaching Development and 2020 Coach Educator of the Year. “USA Baseball continues to cultivate a diverse and knowledgeable group of presenters to develop a one-of-a-kind coaches education experience. Not only will attendees receive free meals and USA Baseball gear as part of their attendance, but they will be absorbing exceptional training through lecture-style and on-field instruction from some of the best minds in the game.”
“The development of coaches in our game at all levels is mission critical. USA Baseball continues to take a leadership role in this initiative and the Arizona Fall League is proud to be a partner,” said Arizona Fall League Director Chuck Fox.
Regional Clinics provide their attendees with over 10 hours of instruction over two days. The first day will include guest instructors providing lecture-style and discussion-based training and a cocktail hour and dinner for the participants to network with the instructors and USA Baseball staff. The second day takes place on-field, demonstrating the concepts introduced on day one. Lunch will be provided for all participants and will offer another opportunity to meet and speak with the instructors and fellow coaches in attendance. In addition, all coaches who register will receive a gift bag of USA Baseball gear and an in-depth program manual to take home.
Furthermore, attending a Regional Clinic satisfies the clinic attendance requirement for level “C” of the free USA Baseball Coaches Certification Program. The program is three-tiered and consists of ascending levels "A" Certification, "B" Certification, and "C" Certification. The program aims to create a higher standard of coaching education to enhance coaches’ ability to serve their athletes, teams, and communities. The curriculum includes educational resources that cover essential topics such as health and safety, creating a positive environment, recognizing and responding to misconduct, practice planning, game management, and skill-specific development.
2023 USA Baseball Regional Clinics:
- September 9–10: Schaumburg, Illinois (Wintrust Field)
- September 16–17: Trenton, New Jersey (Trenton Thunder Ballpark)
- October 21–22: Chattanooga, Tennessee (AT&T Field)
- November 4–5: Scottsdale, Arizona (Salt River Fields at Talking Stick)
USA Baseball is proud to partner with MLB and the Arizona Fall League for its Scottsdale, Arizona Regional Clinic from November 4–5. Occurring in conjunction with the 16th edition of the Fall Stars Game, all clinic attendees will receive a complimentary ticket to the game on Saturday evening at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Spring Training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. The cocktail hour reception will also be hosted there that evening.
Registration for a USA Baseball Regional Clinic is $119 per attendee or $99 per attendee for a staff of three or more coaches. Space is limited for each location. USA Baseball is happy to offer discounted hotel options for its participants that can be found on the USA Baseball Travel Services page.
Current presenters for the Regional Clinics include:
- Xan Barksdale: Two-time Collegiate National Team coach and 2019 USA Baseball Service Provider of the Year
- Butch Chaffin: Two-time USA Baseball national team coach and 2020 USA Baseball Volunteer Coach of the Year
- Kevin Graber: Field Coordinator for the Chicago Cubs and ABCA and NHSBCA Region Coach of the Year
- Brian Hamm: Yale University Head Coach and 2022 Skip Bertman Award winner
- Matt Herges: Former bullpen coach for the San Francisco Giants and pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks
- Ryan McGinnis: 2022 ABCA National Ethics Coach of the Year and two-time Wisconsin Coach of the Year
- Adam Moseley: Three-time USA Baseball national team coaching alum
- Jeremy Sheetinger: Georgia Gwinnett College Head Coach and 2021 Skip Bertman National Coach of the Year
Presenters also include Andre Butler, Tim Funkhouser (2022 Illinois 4A Baseball Coach of the year), Alex Jurczynski (Princeton), Mike Petrowski (Rider), Robbie Robinson (Sacramento River Cats [AAA San Francisco Giants]), and Rob Swendra (St. Cloud State). Additional presenters will be added throughout the year and can be found online on the Regional Clinics registration page.
For more information on the Regional Clinics, the USA Baseball Coaches Clinic program, or the Coaches Certification Program, please visit CoachClinics.org, email [email protected], or follow @USABDevelops on Instagram and Twitter.
GSA Spotlight: Wake Forest's Rhett Lowder
CLEMSON, S.C. — It’s almost surprising that pro scouts keep packing the stands behind home plate for Rhett Lowder starts. Why bother? By now, you know exactly what you’re going to see.
The Wake Forest ace is going to carve up the strike zone at 92-94 mph, or when he’s at his best like he was against Notre Dame, he’ll attack at 93-96. He’s going to showcase one of college baseball’s best changeups, an 85-87 mph offering with elite arm speed, deception and fade. Most days, he’s also going to show advanced feel for a late-biting slider at 82-83. He’s going to throw any of his three pitches in any count, to righties or lefties. And he’s going to deal for six-plus innings, then earn a victory.
That’s just what Lowder does. He’s remarkably consistent, every time out. And Lowder was just typical Lowder on Thursday night at Clemson, turning in seven strong innings of two-run ball (one earned), striking out six while scattering seven hits and a walk. It wasn’t his best outing, certainly — but it was rock-solid, had he felt like he was in complete command throughout, leading the second-ranked Demon Deacons to an 8-3 win in the series opener.
“To have him is a luxury that we don’t take for granted,” Wake Forest coach Tom Walter said. “And he’s just so tough. He just makes pitches with men on base. All three pitches are in play at all times to both left and righthanded hitters, so it just makes it really hard to go up there and game plan against him.”
Lowder already established himself as one of college baseball’s elite pitchers last year, when he went 11-3, 3.08 with 105 strikeouts against 26 walks in 99.1 innings to earn ACC Pitcher of the Year honors. Yet somehow, he’s been even better as a junior. Thursday was the fifth time in seven starts that Lowder has gone seven innings while allowing one or fewer earned run — the man is just automatic. He’s now 6-0, 1.40 on the season, with 54 strikeouts against just eight walks in 45 innings.
Lowder is his own harshest critic, of course, and he said he thought he came out “a little flat” on Thursday, despite striking out the first batter of the game and working around a two-out single in a scoreless first. But he said he felt better as the game went on, and he “got a little bit more juiced up” when center fielder Tommy Hawke made a leaping catch to steal a home run from Jacob Jarrell in the third.
We’ve seen Lowder more dominant; in previous seven-inning starts this year, he’s limited opponents to three hits on two occasions, and just one hit another time. He did not have a clean 1-2-3 inning until the seventh on Thursday — but Clemson also did not advance a runner into scoring position in any of the first five frames, as Lowder characteristically buckled down with a man on first. Then in the sixth, he gave up a bloop double to shallow right-center to Will Taylor, then got cleanup man Cade Grice to hit a little nubber that Lowder fielded himself — then slipped on the wet turf and threw the ball down the right-field line, allowing Taylor to score. Lowder tweaked his hip a little on the play but stayed in the game and retired the next three batters in order.
“Rhett Lowder was the story today, just awesome,” Walter said. “That seventh inning he threw, kind of tweaked his hip on that slow roller from Grice, and he wanted the ball in the seventh, and I give him a lot of credit for that. His pitch count was relatively low, but he certainly could have asked out of that game in that situation, but he wanted to go out there, and got three big outs.”
Walter said Lowder has the best pitchability of anyone he’s ever coached — though emerging sophomore lefty Josh Harlte isn’t too far behind him, in Walter’s estimation. Lowder’s starts are always a clinic in craftsmanship for so many reasons, but I’m always struck by his ability to locate his changeup right-on-right to both sides of the plate — something you very rarely see. His feel for that pitch is just innate and special.
“It’s just something so natural for me, I’m lucky to say that’s the only pitch I’ve thrown the exact same way my entire life,” Lowder said. “Ever since I started throwing a changeup, I’ve thrown it with the same grip, thrown it the same way. So the more reps you get, the more comfortable you get with it. It’s one of those things, if it’s not feeling right, it’s a quick fix, and most of the time it’s feeling pretty normal — it’s like muscle memory.”
Watching Lowder feels like an exercise in eye muscle memory — we’ve seen this show before, over and over. When excellence becomes routine, that’s certainly a sign of greatness, and I’m making it a point to appreciate Lowder’s consistent excellence for what it is. Every Lowder performance is special, so let’s not take them for granted. Even if he’s going to do the exact same thing again next week, and the week after that, and the week after that.
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USA Baseball Announces 2023 Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today announced the 2023 Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List, continuing the process of identifying the top amateur baseball player in the country. The list features 45 of the nation’s best athletes from both college and high school baseball.
Twenty-four athletes have played their way onto the list since the announcement of the Preseason Watch List on February 10. The Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board will continue maintaining a rolling list of athletes throughout the season, allowing players to play themselves into consideration for the award before the announcement of the semifinalists on May 22.
“The amateur baseball season has been nothing short of spectacular so far,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s Executive Director and CEO. “The talent on display has been very impressive across the country, and we are excited to recognize the nation’s best performers to this point in the season. We look forward to watching the rest of the season unfold before we name the newest Golden Spikes Award winner in June.”
The 2023 list features seven players from last season’s Midseason Watch List, including Dylan Crews (LSU), who is appearing on his fifth Golden Spikes Award watch list overall. Additionally, Enrique Bradfield Jr. (Vanderbilt), Chase Burns (Tennessee), Chase Dollander (Tennessee), Jake Gelof (Virginia), Nolan Schanuel (Florida Atlantic), and Jacob Wilson (Grand Canyon) return to the list after earning spots on last year’s Midseason Watch List.
Tanner Hall (Southern Miss) and Tommy White (LSU) join Burns, Crews, Gelof, and Wilson as 2022 semifinalists who made their way to the 2023 midseason list. Paul Skenes (LSU), a semifinalist in 2021, also earned a spot on this year’s midseason list.
For the second consecutive year, a school has placed three starting pitchers on the midseason list. After Tennessee had a trio of starters last year, Wake Forest’s Josh Hartle, Rhett Lowder, and Sean Sullivan appear on this year’s list after posting a combined 16-2 record and all owning sub-2.00 ERAs in the first half of the season.
Five non-Division I athletes appear on this year’s Midseason Watch List, including three high school standouts in Max Clark (Franklin HS), Walker Jenkins (South Brunswick HS), and Noble Meyer (Jesuit HS). Brady Cerkownyk (Connors State) and Mitch Farris (Wingate) join the trio of prep stars in attempting to become only the third non-NCAA Division I player to win the Golden Spikes Award.
Thirty-three schools and 13 conferences are represented on the 2023 midseason list. LSU and Wake Forest, the nation’s consensus top two ranked teams, each boast three players to lead all programs. The list also features eight schools with two players: Florida, Grand Canyon, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Virginia. Additionally, the SEC leads all conferences with 16 representatives, followed by the ACC with seven and the Pac-12 with four.
Texas’ Ivan Melendez is the most recent winner of the Golden Spikes Award, earning the prestigious honor after a standout campaign in 2022. He joins a group of recent winners, including Kevin Kopps (2021), Adley Rutschman (2019), Andrew Vaughn (2018), Brendan McKay (2017), Kyle Lewis (2016), Andrew Benintendi (2015), A.J. Reed (2014), Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Buster Posey (2008) and David Price (2007).
The 2023 Golden Spikes Award timeline is as follows:
- May 22: Golden Spikes Award semifinalists announced and fan voting begins
- June 5: Golden Spikes Award semifinalists' fan voting ends
- June 7: Golden Spikes Award finalists announced and fan voting begins
- June 21: Golden Spikes Award finalists’ fan voting ends
- June 25: Golden Spikes Award winner announced
Fan voting will again play a part in the Golden Spikes Award in 2023. Amateur baseball fans can vote for their favorite players on GoldenSpikesAward.com, beginning on May 22 with the naming of the semifinalists. USA Baseball will announce the finalists for the award on June 7, and fan voting will once again open at GoldenSpikesAward.com before closing on June 21.
To stay up to date on the 2023 Golden Spikes Award, visit GoldenSpikesAward.com and follow @USAGoldenSpikes on Instagram and Twitter.
A complete list of the 45-player 2023 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List is as follows:
- Name; Position; School; Conference
- Kris Armstrong; INF; Jacksonville; ASUN
- Enrique Bradfield Jr.; OF; Vanderbilt; SEC
- Brody Brecht; RHP; Iowa; Big Ten
- Chase Burns; RHP; Tennessee; SEC
- Homer Bush Jr.; OF; Grand Canyon; WAC
- Jac Caglianone; LHP/1B; Florida; SEC
- Ryan Campos; C; Arizona State; Pac-12
- Gavin Casas; 1B; South Carolina; SEC
- Brady Cerkownyk; C; Connors State; Region 2
- Max Clark; INF; Franklin High School
- Charlie Condon; 1B/OF; Georgia; SEC
- Jacob Cozart; C; NC State; ACC
- Dylan Crews; OF; LSU; SEC
- Chase Davis; OF; Arizona; Pac-12
- Chase Dollander; RHP; Tennessee; SEC
- Mitch Farris; LHP; Wingate; South Atlantic
- Cam Fisher; OF; Charlotte; C-USA
- Jake Gelof; INF/OF; Virginia; ACC
- Jacob Gonzalez; INF; Ole Miss; SEC
- Mike Gutierrez; LHP; UC-Santa Barbara; Big West
- Hunter Haas; INF; Texas A&M; SEC
- Tanner Hall; RHP; Southern Miss; Sun Belt
- Josh Hartle; LHP; Wake Forest; ACC
- Hunter Hollan; LHP; Arkansas; SEC
- Carter Holton; LHP; Vanderbilt; SEC
- Walker Jenkins; OF; South Brunswick High School
- Rhett Lowder; RHP; Wake Forest; ACC
- Nolan McLean; RHP/OF/INF; Oklahoma State; Big 12
- Noble Meyer; RHP; Jesuit High School
- Braden Montgomery; RHP/OF; Stanford; Pac-12
- Yohandy Morales; INF; Miami; ACC
- Ethan Petry; OF; South Carolina; SEC
- Josh Rivera; INF; Florida; SEC
- Nolan Schanuel; INF/OF; FAU; C-USA
- Nolan Schubart; OF/1B; Oklahoma State; Big 12
- Paul Skenes; RHP; LSU; SEC
- Sean Sullivan; LHP; Wake Forest; ACC
- Kyle Teel; C/INF; Virginia; ACC
- Tommy Troy; INF/OF; Stanford; Pac-12
- Brock Vradenburg; INF; Michigan State; Big Ten
- Bryson Ware; INF/OF; Auburn; SEC
- JJ Wetherholt; INF; West Virginia; Big 12
- Tommy White; 3B; LSU; SEC
- Jacob Wilson; INF; Grand Canyon; WAC
- Trey Yesavage; RHP; East Carolina; AAC
USA Baseball Boasts 156 Alumni On Opening Day Rosters
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball announced today that 156 alumni kicked off the 2023 Major League Baseball season on Opening Day rosters. In addition, all 30 Major League Clubs feature at least two former USA Baseball national team members to begin the season.
The New York Mets lead all clubs with 11 former Team USA members, while the Philadelphia Phillies have the second-most on their roster with nine. The Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, and St. Louis Cardinals have eight each on their roster, and seven alums are with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, and San Diego Padres.
In total, 23 of the 30 Clubs feature four or more players who suited up for the red, white, and blue in international competition.
Three alums were named as the Opening Day starting pitchers for their respective clubs: Miles Mikolas (St. Louis Cardinals), Max Scherzer (New York Mets), and Marcus Stroman (Chicago Cubs). Mikolas most recently won a silver medal with Team USA at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, where he surrendered one earned run in a combined six innings out of the bullpen.
Brice Turang (Milwaukee Brewers) and Blake Sabol (San Francisco Giants) debuted on an MLB roster to begin the 2023 season; meanwhile, reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander is in his 18th season in the big leagues and reigning NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt began his 11th season in the MLB on Friday.
Eight alums are managing around the league, including Aaron Boone (New York Yankees), Terry Francona (Cleveland Guardians), Joe Girardi (Philadelphia Phillies), AJ Hinch (Detroit Tigers), Mark Kotsay (Oakland Athletics), Dave Roberts (Los Angeles Dodgers), David Ross (Chicago Cubs), and Scott Servais (Seattle Mariners). Francona is the only alum managing an MLB team that has played and coached for a USA Baseball national team.
Additionally, five USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award winners find themselves on an opening day roster, including a pair of Chicago White Sox teammates in Andrew Benintendi and Andrew Vaughn, as well as Kris Bryant (Colorado Rockies), Kyle Lewis(Seattle Mariners), and Adley Rutschman (Baltimore Orioles).
The complete list of USA Baseball alumni on Opening Day rosters is as follows:
- Corbin Carroll – 2018 18U
- Zach Davies – 2007 14U
- Merrill Kelly – 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Evan Longoria – 2007 Professional; 2009 World Baseball Classic
- Jake McCarthy – 2017 Collegiate
- Scott McGough – 2010 Collegiate; 2021 Olympics
- Alek Thomas – 2017 18U
- Travis d'Arnaud - 2011 Professional
- A.J. Minter - 2014 Collegiate
- Matt Olson - 2010 16U
- Adam Frazier - 2012 Collegiate; 2015 Professional
- Kyle Gibson - 2008 Collegiate
- Cole Irvin - 2011 18U
- Cedric Mullins - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Adley Rutschman - 2018 Collegiate
Boston Red Sox
- Triston Casas - 2015 15U; 2016 & 2017 18U; 2021 Olympics
- Tanner Houck - 2015 & 2016 Collegiate; 2019 Professional
- Reese McGuire - 2012 18U
- Robert Refsnyder - 2007 16U
- Nico Hoerner - 2011 14U; 2012 15U
- Eric Hosmer - 2007 18U; 2010 Professional; 2013 & 2017 World Baseball Classic
- Nick Madrigal - 2011 14U; 2012 15U; 2014 18U; 2017 Collegiate
- Drew Smyly – 2011 Professional; 2017 World Baseball Classic
- Marcus Stroman - 2011 Collegiate; 2017 World Baseball Classic
- Dansby Swanson - 2014 Collegiate
- Jameson Taillon - 2009 18U
- Keegan Thompson - 2011 16U; 2012 18U
Chicago White Sox
- Tim Anderson - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Yasmani Grandal - 2009 Collegiate
- Kendall Graveman - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Joe Kelly - 2007 Collegiate
- Lance Lynn - 2007 Collegiate; 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Andrew Vaughn - 2013 15U; 2017 & 2018 Collegiate; 2019 Professional
Cincinnati Reds - 3
- Will Benson - 2015 18U
- TJ Friedl - 2016 Collegiate
- Hunter Greene - 2014 15U; 2015 & 2016 18U
- Hunter Gaddis - 2017 Collegiate
- Cam Gallagher - 2015 Professional
- Daniel Bard - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Kris Bryant - 2012 Collegiate
- Kyle Freeland - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Mike Moustakas - 2006 18U; 2010 Professional
- Riley Greene - 2017 18U
- Alex Lange - 2016 Collegiate
- Austin Meadows - 2011 16U
- Spencer Torkelson - 2018 & 2019 Collegiate
- Alex Bregman - 2010 16U; 2011 18U; 2013 & 2014 Collegiate; 2017 World Baseball Classic
- Ryan Pressly - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Ryne Stanek - 2011 & 2012 Collegiate
- Kyle Tucker - 2012 15U; 2023 World Baseball Classic
Kansas City Royals
- Jackie Bradley Jr. - 2010 Collegiate
- MJ Melendez - 2016 18U
- Brady Singer - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Bobby Witt Jr. - 2018 18U; 2023 World Baseball Classic
Los Angeles Angels
- Tyler Anderson - 2010 Collegiate
- Reid Detmers - 2019 Collegiate
- Brett Phillips - 2015 Professional
- Anthony Rendon - 2010 Collegiate
- Matt Thaiss - 2015 Collegiate
- Mike Trout - 2010 Professional; 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Taylor Ward - 2014 Collegiate
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Mookie Betts - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Freddie Freeman - 2005 16U; 2006 18U
- Clayton Kershaw - 2005 18U
- Will Smith - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Braxton Garrett - 2015 18U
- A.J. Puk - 2015 Collegiate
- Matt Bush - 2002 16U; 2003 18U
- Hoby Milner - 2011 Collegiate
- Garrett Mitchell - 2019 Collegiate
- Brice Turang - 2014 15U; 2016 & 2017 18U
- Devin Williams - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Jesse Winker - 2011 18U
- Christian Yelich - 2017 World Baseball Classic
- Kyle Farmer - 2012 Collegiate
- Joey Gallo - 2011 18U
- Sonny Gray - 2009 & 2010 Collegiate
- Joe Ryan - 2021 Olympics
- Cole Sands - 2012 15U; 2016 Collegiate
- Caleb Thielbar - 2019 Professional
New York Mets
- Pete Alonso - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Tommy Hunter - 2006 Collegiate
- Francisco Lindor - 2009 16U; 2010 18U
- Jeff McNeil - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Stephen Nogosek - 2009 14U; 2015 Collegiate
- Adam Ottavino - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- David Peterson - 2016 Collegiate
- Brooks Raley - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- David Robertson - 2017 World Baseball Classic; 2021 Olympics
- Max Scherzer - 2005 Collegiate
- Justin Verlander - 2003 Collegiate
New York Yankees
- Kyle Higashioka - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Giancarlo Stanton – 2013 & 2017 World Baseball Classic
- Jose Trevino - 2012 Collegiate
- Anthony Volpe - 2013 12U; 2016 15U; 2018 18U
- Nick Allen - 2013 15U; 2016 18U; 2021 Olympics
- Zach Jackson - 2015 Collegiate
- Shea Langeliers - 2018 Collegiate
- Brent Rooker - 2019 Professional
- Alec Bohm - 2019 Professional
- Nick Castellanos - 2009 18U
- Dalton Guthrie - 2016 Collegiate
- Josh Harrison - 2017 World Baseball Classic
- Craig Kimbrel - 2013 World Baseball Classic
- JT Realmuto - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Kyle Schwarber - 2013 Collegiate; 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Bryson Stott - 2018 Collegiate
- Trea Turner - 2012 & 2013 Collegiate; 2023 World Baseball Classic
- David Bednar - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Chase De Jong - 2011 18U
- Ke'Bryan Hayes - 2014 18U
- Andrew McCutchen - 2004 18U; 2017 World Baseball Classic
- Bryan Reynolds - 2014 Collegiate
San Diego Padres
- Jake Cronenworth - 2019 Professional
- David Dahl - 2011! 18U
- Trenton Grisham - 2014! 18U
- Josh Hader - 2015 Professional
- Nick Martinez - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Michael Wacha - 2011 Collegiate
- Ryan Weathers - 2017! 18U
San Francisco Giants
- Michael Conforto - 2012 & 2013 Collegiate
- Brandon Crawford - 2006 Collegiate; 2017 World Baseball Classic
- Blake Sabol - 2013 15U
- JP Crawford - 2009 14U
- Marco Gonzales - 2012 Collegiate
- Jarred Kelenic - 2016 & 2017 18U
- Penn Murfee - 2019 Professional
- AJ Pollock - 2011 Professional
- Robbie Ray - 2009 18U
- Paul Sewald - 2015 Professional
- Kolten Wong - 2009 Collegiate
St. Louis Cardinals
- Nolan Arenado - 2017 & 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Alec Burleson - 2019 Collegiate
- Jack Flaherty - 2013 18U
- Paul Goldschmidt - 2017 & 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Nolan Gorman - 2017 18U
- Miles Mikolas - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Andre Pallante - 2018 Collegiate
- Zack Thompson - 2018 Collegiate
Tampa Bay Rays
- Jason Adam - 2023 World Baseball Classic
- Zach Eflin - 2015 Professional
- Taylor Walls - 2016 Collegiate
- Robbie Grossman - 2007 18U
- Travis Jankowski - 2015 Professional
- Josh Jung - 2018 Collegiate
- Ian Kennedy - 2002 18U; 2004 & 2005 Collegiate
- Brad Miller - 2009 & 2010 Collegiate
- Corey Seager - 2010 16U
Toronto Blue Jays
- Cavan Biggio - 2012 18U
- Matt Chapman - 2013 Collegiate
- Kevin Gausman - 2009 18U; 2011 Collegiate
- George Springer - 2010 Collegiate
- Dalton Varsho - 2019 Professional
- CJ Abrams - 2018 18U
- Mason Thompson - 2013 15U
- Trevor Williams - 2012 Collegiate
Huntington Beach Wins Its Second NHSI Title With Seven-Run Ninth Inning
BOX SCORE - PLAYS - CUMULATIVE STATS: Huntington Beach | JSerra Catholic
CARY, N.C. -- The Oilers’ offense exploded in the top of the ninth inning with two triples and seven runs, and Huntington Beach won its second National High School Invitational title in an 8-1 extra-innings thriller over JSerra Catholic on Saturday at the National Training Complex. It was the first NHSI championship game to go to extra innings since the inaugural event in 2012 when Mater Dei defeated Harvard-Westlake 3-2 in eight innings.
Huntington Beach (4-0) becomes the third school to win multiple NHSI titles, joining Mater Dei (2012 & 2013) and Orange Lutheran (2017, 2018, & 2019). The Oilers move to 18-6 all-time after making their sixth appearance in the annual event this year.
Huntington Beach jumped out to a lead in the third inning and seemingly controlled the game until the bottom of the seventh behind a stellar outing from tournament MVP Tyler Bellerose. Bradley Navarro led off the top of the third inning with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch to put a runner into scoring position. Then, coming to bat with one out, Tony Martinez continued his strong showing in the NHSI with an RBI-single up the middle to score Navarro.
From then on, the pitching and defense ruled the finale. Huntington Beach threatened in the top of the fourth and fifth innings, getting runners into scoring position, but could not come up with a clutch hit.
Andrew Lamb picked up his first hit of the tournament and JSerra Catholic’s (3-1) first hit of the game with a leadoff double to the right-centerfield wall in the fourth inning. Ryusei Fujiwara sacrificed Lamb over to third base to threaten Oiler starter Bellerose, but Bellerose got out of the jam with a flyout and groundout to shortstop Dean Carpentier.
JSerra Catholic first baseman Dominic Smaldino led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single and advanced to second on a Martinez error, but the Lions could not capitalize. Charlie Caruso attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Trent Grindlinger went after the lead runner and threw him out easily before a flyout and a looking strike ended the inning. The Lions got another leadoff batter aboard in the bottom of the sixth, but Grindlinger threw him out trying to steal second, and Bellerose finished the inning with back-to-back strikeouts to keep the score 1-0 heading into the final frame.
Down to their final three outs, the Lions’ Trent Caraway launched a leadoff double down the left-field line, and Jonathan Mendez was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs and chase Bellerose from the game. Colin McNiven came on in relief and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Charlie Caruso, scoring Caraway and sending the game into extras.
The teams traded zeroes in the eighth, but the Huntington Beach offense exploded in the top of the ninth, beginning with back-to-back one-out singles from Martinez and Carpentier to put a runner into scoring position for Linkin Garcia. Garcia followed with a bloop single to right field that looked to load the bases, but an errant throw from the JSerra right-fielder scored Martinez to give the Oilers the 2-1 lead.
The Lions strategically intentionally walked Ralphy Velazquez to load the bases, but Aidan Espinoza picked up his first hit of the tournament with a monster triple to deep right-center field to clear the bases and extend the lead to 5-1. Grindlinger walked before JSerra went to the bullpen once again, and then Colby Turner welcomed Ryan Vaughn to the game by putting down a bunt to score A. Espinoza on the safety squeeze. Navarro then put the nail in the coffin with the second triple of the inning to bring the score to 8-1.
JSerra would get a runner on with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but a strikeout and groundout to the pitcher would end an exhilarating final.
Starting on the mound, Bellerose was outstanding for Huntington Beach in the championship game. He pitched six shutout innings before being responsible for the lone run in the bottom of the seventh, striking out six batters and scattering just four hits throughout his outing. McNiven came on in relief in the seventh and did not allow a hit before Otto Espinoza finished the game with two innings of shutout relief to earn the win.
JSerra Catholic starting pitcher Brodie Purcell lasted just three innings, giving up one run, but struck out three. Mcallister Zawistosk, Andrew Padova, Josh Hollis, and Jayden Graves followed with four innings of scoreless relief for the Lions, striking out a combined five batters. JJ Hollis suffered the loss after giving up six earned runs in his 1.1 innings.
Offensively, A. Espinoza’s (1-for-5, 3 RBIs) triple and multi-hit games from Navarro (2-for-4, 2 RBIs) and Martinez (2-for-4, RBI) paced the eight-hit performance by Huntington Beach. Caraway (2-for-4) led the offensive effort for JSerra with two clutch doubles in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings.
Bellerose’s stellar championship performance helped earn the sophomore MVP honors for the 2023 NHSI after he combined to strike out eight batters and give up just one run in his two appearances spanning nine innings. In addition to naming an MVP, USA Baseball announced the 15-member All-Tournament Team following the game.
2023 NHSI All-Tournament Team:
- Tyler Bellerose (Huntington Beach) - MVP
- Dean Carpentier (Huntington Beach)
- Trent Caraway (JSerra Catholic)
- Matthew Champion (JSerra Catholic)
- Adam Ciccone (Hagerty)
- Colin Clarke (Santa Margarita)
- Bradley Gilbert (Aquinas)
- Aidan Knaak (Bishop Verot)
- Gunnar Myro (Bishop Gorman)
- Bryce Nevils (Brother Rice)
- Gavin Smith (Basha)
- Ty Starke (St. Xavier)
- Charley Sturm (Jesuit)
- Cole Van Essen (Brother Rice)
- Ralphy Velazquez (Huntington Beach)
GSA Spotlight: Florida’s Jac Caglianone Catching Nation By Storm
OXFORD, Miss – “The damn baseball looks like a grapefruit out there to this guy.”
Those words from the grandstand were lobbed from a fan wearing a blue Gators cap. The platitude landed on Florida star Jac Caglianone as the player walked from the visiting Florida dugout to exit the Swayze Field playing surface.
Caglianone, listed at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, just greeted the complement with a hint of a smile. With number 14 on his back, Caglianone resembled an NFL tight end with broad shoulders and a narrow waist. The twenty-year-old presented an imposing figure.
Then he approached wearing a disarming, easy smile. The hulking figure was exceedingly polite. Earlier that day, he had murdered several baseballs.
“He’s the biggest, strongest kid on the field,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.
O’Sullivan had just watched that biggest, strongest kid smack three home runs in a Saturday doubleheader. Caglianone would hit another one the following day, giving him four home runs for the series and a national-best 17 for the season. And oh yeah, Caglianone also started that Sunday game as the pitcher, something he has done each weekend all season.
Recruited as a premium pitcher to Florida, Caglianone didn’t pitch last season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. That injury hurt his draft stock out of high school and certainly contributed to his arrival as a collegian.
Caglianone was expected to sit out last season completely, and he did so as a pitcher. However, the Tampa native impressed enough with his bat to get a start at designated hitter in a series against the eventual SEC champion Tennessee. In the second at-bat of his first start, he homered. He became a lineup mainstay the rest of the way, finishing with a .288/.339/.528 slash line and seven home runs. He homered twice against Oklahoma at the Gainesville Regional and found his way onto the All-Regional team.
This season, healthy enough to pitch, he earned a job in the weekend rotation. In 29 innings, he has allowed only 15 hits and 11 runs. The sophomore southpaw has struck out 35 and walked 18. He’s 3-0 with a 3.41 ERA in his six starts.
That would be impressive enough as a pitcher. But there has been as much buzz from striking baseballs as striking out batters. Caglianone is batting .400/.462/.971 with 17 homers, seven doubles, and a triple while splitting time between first base and moving to designated hitter on days he pitches. He routinely has exit velocities over 110 mph. The ball just sounds different off his bat.
“My approach has always been to hit a ball hard,” Caglianone said. “So, yeah, my exit velo has been pretty high for a while. I’ve got 120 (mph) once this year and some 118s.”
“He’s just different,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve had some really good hitters over the years. He’s right there with them. I’m so glad he’s only a sophomore so we still have him for another year.”
“This is the first time I’ve seen him,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said after Saturday’s game. “He’s special. We watched him for 10 at-bats and still don’t know what to throw him. He hits everything. He hits fastballs, breaking balls. We only threw changeups because we’ve seen him hit enough home runs on changeups. And what a first base he plays (defensively).”
While his prowess as a two-way threat is fascinating from the outside, managing his workload is a big part of the story.
“It is definitely a lot tougher in college than I thought it would be,” Caglianone said of managing both pitching and hitting. “The coaches do a great job maintaining my arm.”
“We really take it easy on his throwing, especially with in and out,” O’Sullivan said. “On strike threes, we only throw to third (base) so he doesn’t touch the ball very much. He’s been doing it his whole life, so this is not something he’s never done.”
One person who can relate in some ways to what Caglianone is doing is former Ole Miss two-way standout Stephen Head. A star at Ole Miss from 2003-2005 and a professional player from 2005-2011, Head pitched and played first base for the Rebels well enough to be SEC Player of the Year in 2004.
“It’s hard not to notice what he’s doing,” said Head, who now works as a crosschecker for the Los Angeles Dodgers. “I mean, to be that talented on both sides of the ball.”
Head detailed some of the ways he protected his arm during his playing days, limiting throwing as an infielder in practice and in games, similar to how Florida does with Caglianone.
Head did feel there are some advantages two-way players have. One example is there are twice as many opportunities to experience pressure. If you handle it properly, that can be a benefit.
“If you are batting with two outs in the bottom of the ninth,” Head explained. “That’s no different than pitching in that situation. I think it’s a benefit because you are ready for any situation.”
When asked if he had any advice for a player following his path nearly twenty years later, he offered this retort.
“He doesn’t look like he needs much of my advice,” Head said with a laugh. “I’d say, just continue to do what he’s doing and be smart about it. You have to know how to take care of your body to be able to perform like that every time. It’s a pretty tough balance. There were days when I started a game on Sunday where I was gassed. You have to figure out that balance to do your job, be a college kid, and be a teammate. It’s a harder thing to balance than if you are just playing one side of the ball.”
And that’s the uncertainty as his career progresses after he completes his term as a Gator.
The 2024 draft is out there, and while the prevailing thought on Caglianone entering the season was a mound future thanks to his high-90s velocity, his power production is hard to ignore.
“Growing up I was always like a hitter who pitched,” Caglianone said. “Coming to college, I’ve become more like a pitcher who can hit. I guess that’s what I’d say right now.”
The velocity on the mound is eye-catching. And while there have been bouts with command—he walked eight Sunday—he also had a nine-strikeout, one-walk game. When he’s locating, this is a tantalizing pitching prospect. And remember, he is working his way back after surgery kept him out last season. There’s plenty of development left to happen.
Then you watch him hit. Or, in my case, you hear him hit. That thunderous impact when his bat smashed the ball stuck with me, and the mountainous exit velocities backed that up.
So where is his future? On the mound or at the plate?
“That’s the million-dollar question,” said a grinning O’Sullivan. “It will be nice to see how it all unfolds.”
But maybe he won’t have to choose. While no one should have to live up to Shohei Ohtani’s exalted status, at least now there’s a precedent that playing both is possible.
Even if he wanted to, Caglianone can’t escape the Ohtani comparisons.
“It’s hard not to (pattern his game over Ohtani),” he said. “In Gainesville, they’ve got the ‘Jactani’ thing going on. It’s surreal. I’m not rushing anything. Especially on the pitching aspect of things, coming off Tommy John.”
Caglianone paused and looked around the emptying ballpark. His focus quickly returned, and he smiled and blurted out the answer he had originally planned…
“I plan to do both as long as I can.”
And based on what we’ve seen thus far, that may just be a long time from now.
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Huntington Beach Holds Off Bishop Gorman, Secures Spot in Title Game
BOX SCORE - PLAYS - CUMULATIVES: Bishop Gorman | Huntington Beach
CARY, N.C. – Huntington Beach (Huntington Beach, Calif.) held off a late rally by Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) to win, 3-2, in the semifinal round of the 2023 National High School Invitational (NHSI) presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance on Friday.
The win sends the Oilers (3-0) to the tournament title game for the first time since they won it all in 2016. Bishop Gorman (2-1) falls into consolation play for their NHSI finale.
Huntington Beach scored a run in the first, fourth, and sixth innings to slowly build a 3-0 lead in the semifinal. That lead dwindled to one in the bottom of the sixth, when Bishop Gorman rallied for a pair of runs before Oilers reliever Colin McNiven stranded the tying run on second with a clutch punch out. McNiven returned to the mound for the seventh and worked around a two-out single and stolen base to lock down the win.
Dean Carpentier was responsible for most of the Huntington Beach offense, going 4-for-4 and scoring a run. The shortstop–whose four hits tie him for the NHSI tournament record with 13 others–led off the game with a double and scored the opening run on a Ralphy Velazquez sacrifice fly before adding singles in the third, fifth, and seventh. Bradley Navarro (1-for-2, RBI) and Colby Turner (1-for-2) had the only other two hits for Huntington Beach. Bishop Gorman out-hit the Oilers, 10-6, led by two-hit days from Burke Mabeus (2-for-3), Anthony Marnell IV (2-for-3, RBI), and Aiden Pollock (2-for-3).
Brad Grindlinger (1-0) started on the mound for the Oilers and scattered five hits over four scoreless innings, working out of several jams to keep the Gaels off the scoreboard and earn the win. Bishop Gorman’s James Whitaker (0-1) was handed the loss after allowing two runs in four innings of work. McNiven (1) was clutch over the final two innings to earn the save.
- Huntington Beach applied pressure early and cashed in for the game’s first run when Dean Carpentier led off with a double and later scored on a Ralphy Velazquez sacrifice fly.
- Two consecutive walks put a pair on with none out for Bishop Gorman in the second, but Huntington Beach catcher Trent Grindlinger picked a runner off to help his brother Brad Grindlinger escape unscathed.
- After two quick outs in the Bishop Gorman third, the Gaels rallied for two straight hits but Brad Grindlinger coaxed a fly out to keep it a 1-0 lead for the Oilers.
- A walk and hit-by-pitch put two runners on for Huntington Beach’s Bradley Navarro, who roped an RBI single back up the middle to put the Oilers up 2-0 in the fourth.
- Bishop Gorman put together another two-out rally in the fourth until Brad Grindlinger got out of the jam by inducing a foul out with two runners on to maintain the two-run lead for the Oilers.
- Maddox Riske snuck a ground ball down the left field line and hustled for a double to start the Bishop Gorman fifth, but Huntington Beach reliever Wyatt Thomas got three clutch outs without allowing a run to score.
- Huntington Beach grew its lead to three in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Brian Trujillo, plating pinch-runner Trevor Goldenetz.
- The Gaels offense awakened in the sixth to get within a run. Burke Mabeus split the right-center field gap for a double to start the inning and scored on Gunnar Myro’s RBI single to trim the Bishop Gorman deficit to two.
- Anthony Marnell IV hit an RBI single to right field to score Bishop Gorman’s second run and make it a 3-2 game in the bottom of the sixth, but Huntington Beach reliever Colin McNiven picked up a big strikeout to stop the bleeding.
- Trailing by a run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Bishop Gorman’s Burke Mabeus singled and stole second base but was stranded on a game-ending groundout.
- With their RBIs in Friday’s contest, Gunnar Myro (Bishop Gorman) and Ralphy Velazquez (Huntington Beach) are tied for the tournament lead with six runs driven in.
- Huntington Beach’s Dean Carpentier joins a list of 14 players, including New York Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe, as the only players with four hits in an NHSI game.
- With his two-hit day, Bishop Gorman’s Aiden Pollock maintained his .500 batting average at the NHSI.
- Bishop Gorman had not allowed a run in tournament play until Huntington Beach scored in the top of the first on Friday. The Gaels’ tournament-ERA sits at 1.29
- Huntington Beach is now 2-2 all-time in NHSI semifinal games and 17-6 overall in tournament play.
Huntington Beach advances to the NHSI title game against JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) on Saturday, with first pitch set for 4:30 p.m. ET. Bishop Gorman will wrap up its tournament by taking on Doral Academy (Miami, Fla.) at 5:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon.
All games of the 2023 NHSI will be streamed on USABaseball.TV and @USABaseballTV on YouTube.
Stay tuned with all of the action at the 2023 National High School Invitational by following @USABEvents on Twitter and @USABaseball on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Fans and media can use #NHSI23 in their posts.