With their backs against the wall in a must-win situation, U18 Team USA delivered as Stephen Gonsalves tossed another gem in defeating Chinese Taipei 5-1 Thursday morning in the IBAF Junior/AAA World Championships being held in Seoul, South Korea. Team USA improved to 5-2 with the win.
After a heart-breaking 1-0, 10-inning loss to Canada in the first game of pool play on Wednesday — in which the offense only managed three hits — they responded with a 15-hit outburst against Chinese Taipei. Cavan Biggio led the way, going 4-for-4 with an RBI and stolen base. Reece McGuire went 3-for-4 with two RBI.
Gonsalves, however, stole the show.
The 6’-5” left-hander went the distance, allowing just one run over nine innings, striking out four to two walks. It was the second dominant performance of the tournament for Gonsalves after he shut down Colombia, allowing one run over seven innings with eight strikeouts in a complete game 11-1 victory on September 1.
Team USA got the scoring started in the bottom of the first when Dom Nunez reached on an infield single. Nunez advanced to second on a wild pitch, then moved over to third on a ground out by Jeremy Martinez. Reece McGuire then singled to center field to score Nunez for a 1-0 US lead.
Chinese Taipei tied the game up in the top of the second as Chun-Hsiang Chan delivered an RBI single scoring Chih-Chieh Su. That would be all the scoring Chinese Taipei would do as Gonsalves settled in and didn’t allow a base runner to reach third until the seventh inning. He was also backed by his defense who turned four double plays on the day.
The US added another run in the third as Reece McGuire again singled to score Nunez who had reached on a fielder’s choice. They scored three more in the fifth to put the game away and keep Team USA’s gold medal hopes alive. They will play Japan on Friday morning (5 a.m. ET) in another must-win situation. The two teams with the best records after pool play will advance to the gold medal game.
Ryan Boldt finished 2-for-5 with a stolen base. The left-handed hitting outfielder out of Red Wing HS in Minnesota is now a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts. He has also drawn six walks and been hit by a pitch four times for a .455 OBP.
Catcher Jeremy Martinez is hitting .400 (10-for-25) through seven games with two doubles, a triple, seven RBI and a .500 OBP.
Catcher Reece McGuire leads the team in RBI (9) as well as hitting (.500). He also has drawn six walks for a .607 OBP.
Infielder Christian Arroyo is hitting .400 (10-for-25) with three doubles and seven RBI.
The team is hitting .309 with 14 doubles, four triples and has drawn 32 walks for a .424 OBP over seven games while averaging 6.3 runs per game.
The pitching staff now has a 1.83 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and has held opponents to a .190 batting average. Over 59 innings, they have struck out 56 batters to 30 walks.
With two more stolen bases against Chinese Taipei, the team now has 29 over seven games. The record is 45 over nine games set by last year’s gold medal winning U18 Team.
For a full rundown of each player on Team USA, click here.