AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico–The 16U National Team beat Venezuela Friday, 18-17 (10 inn.), on a walk off sacrifice fly to clinch a spot in the gold medal game at the IBAF World ‘AA’/16U Youth Championships.
Venezuela was in control early after it used a big top of the second inning to take a 5-0 lead. In the inning it had five hits and capitalized on three U.S. errors. The U.S. would get a couple of those runs back in the bottom of the third. In the bottom of the frame it also took advantage of a couple errors mixed in with three hits, including an RBI single by Willie Abreu, to make it 5-2.
Venezuela would quickly extend the lead back to five, 7-2, in the bottom of the next inning when it once again took advantage of a Team USA error. However, the U.S. would storm back to within one run, 7-6, when it scored four runs on two hits in the bottom of the fourth. In the inning, the U.S. would benefit from a walk, a batter hit by a pitch, an error, and three wild pitches.
After the two teams exchanged runs in the fifth inning to make it 8-7, Venezuela used its second five-run inning of the game to go up six, 13-7. The lead would be trimmed to four in the bottom of the seventh, 13-9, when Austin Meadows, who earlier blasted an RBI triple down the left field line, scored on a wild pitch.
Team USA got its first lead of the night in the bottom of the eighth when it had a five-run inning of its own to take the lead, 14-13. In the inning, four hits and a pair of walks led to the runs. Zack Collins and Meadows each had two-RBI singles. The U.S. couldn’t nail it down in the ninth and allowed Venezuela to regain the lead, 15-14, after a couple of runs. However, Team USA forced extra innings when Bryson Brigman slapped a single through the left side, scoring Hunter Mercado-Hood.
In extras, the two teams used the international tie-breaker rule where runners are placed on first and second. Venezuela scored two runs in the top of the tenth to put the pressure on the 16U National Team, but it would respond with a pair of runs of its own before a sacrifice fly by Abreu, that scored Meadows, gave the U.S. a walk-off win.
Winning for the U.S. was Jordan Sheffield. Sheffield came in during the tie-breaker inning and only allowed two unearned runs to give the U.S. the chance to win in the bottom of the inning. Taking the loss for Venezuela was Victor Ramirez. Team USA had seven players with multi-hit games: Brigman, Riley Unroe, Meadows, Collins, Abreu, Arden Pabst, and Jake Jarvis.
GOING FOR GOLD:With tonight’s win, the U.S. has clinched a spot in the IBAF World ‘AA’/16U Youth Championship Game. The game will be Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico.
MIGHTY JOE THE YOUNG:Joe DeMers, who has not even started high school, came into the game in the top of the sixth inning with two outs and a runner in scoring position. He did not allow the runner to score and went on to pitch 2 2/3 innings in relief.
COMEBACK KIDS:The U.S. was in unfamiliar territory tonight. After the bottom of the second inning it was trailing. It has not been trailing after the bottom of an inning since it trailed going in to the top of the fifth inning in the first game against Australia.
ON DECK: Team USA will continue with second round play against the #3 seed from Group-B, Japan, Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET. The game will be at Lagos de Moreno.