Carson Sands had a rare off day on the mound and needed a pick-me-up from the bullpen. Dominic Taccolini was more than happy to oblige his fellow teammate and worked six scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eight to propel U18 Team USA to a 3-2 win over Venezuela in the IBAF Junior/AAA World Championships being held in Seoul, South Korea. Team USA improved to 3-1 with the win.
Sands, a 6’-3” left-handed junior, and one of the top pitchers in the class of 2014, had some control issues over his three innings of work, walking four batters and hitting one. After walking Freddy Zorilla on four straight, he was replaced by Taccolini with the US trailing 2-0 in the top of the fourth. The 6’-3”, 230-pound right-hander worked a 1-2-3 inning with one strikeout to swing some momentum Team USA’s way.
Willie Abreu led off the bottom half of the fourth with a triple to centerfield. Christian Arroyo followed with a base hit, scoring Abreu for Team USA’s first run of the game. Ryan Boldt then delivered a two-out single to score Arroyo and the game was tied 2-2 after four.
The score stayed the same until the bottom of the eighth when Arroyo led off with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Cavan Biggio followed with a clutch single to center field that scored Arroyo to give the US a 3-2 lead. Taccolini struck out the first two batters in the ninth before getting Angel Vepez to fly out to Abreu in right to end the game and secure the win for Team USA.
Team USA will play their make-up game against Australia Tuesday at 5 a.m. EDT. Starting Wednesday, the top-three teams from each pool will begin the crossover games from September 5-7. The two teams with the best records after the crossover games will advance to the gold medal games.
Catcher Jeremy Martinez went 3-for-4 in the win and is now hitting .667 (8-for-12) over four games with two doubles, a triple, seven RBI and a .750 OBP.
Arroyo is now 7-for-14 (.500) in the tournament with two doubles and six RBI.
Boldt added another stolen base and is now a perfect 8-for-8 over four games with a .579 OBP, including seven walks.
Abreu finished 2-for-4 and is now hitting .357 (5-for-14) with two doubles, two triples and two RBI over four games.
The pitching staff now has a 2.61 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 18 walks over 31 innings.
The offense is now hitting .364 with a .503 OBP, including 25 walks and eight HBP.
With one more stolen base against Venezuela, the team now has 17 over four games. The record is 45 over nine games set by last year’s gold medal winning 18U Team.
For a full rundown of each player on Team USA, click here.