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18U National Team blitzes Russia at IBAF Worlds


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EDMONTON, Alberta – Led by an offensive attack that produced 21 hits and a pair of hurlers who twirled a two-hitter, the USA Baseball 18U National Team blitzed Russia 25-0 today in the fourth day of pool play at the International BAseball Federation’s AAA World Junior Championships. The tournament, featuring the world’s top 18-and-under players from 12 countries, will conclude Aug. 3.

The victory kept Team USA unbeaten (3-0) in pool play and marked the second straight contest in which the squad had reached the 20-run plateau. The USA rolled by the Netherlands 20-5 July 27. The Americans continue pool play at 7 p.m. (EDT) July 29 against Mexico (1-2) at Legion Park in St. Albert, Alberta. Mexico didn’t play today.

The 25 runs scored against Russia (0-3) is the second highest single-game total in 18U National Team Worlds action. The total is only surpassed by the 27 runs scored by the 2000 team against South Africa. In addition, the 21 hits and 20 RBIs amassed by Team USA are the third-best totals in each of those categories. The team’s six stolen bases set a single-game record, eclipsing the mark of five accomplished five times previously. Donavan Tate (OF; Cartersville, Ga.) established a single-game stolen base record with three to help set the new team mark.

As was the case a night earlier in the Netherlands rout, no one USA player had outstanding numbers. Jeff Malm (INF; Las Vegas, Nev.) and Harold Martinez (INF; Miami, Fla.) drove in four runs apiece. Three of Martinez’s RBIs came on a fifth-inning homer — the squad’s only roundtripper of the game. Austin Maddox (DH; Jacksonville, Fla.) contributed three runs batted in while also scoring three times.

“I feel like I am really zoned in and am making some good swings,” said Maddox, who is hitting .333 with six RBIs and six runs scored. “Everyone is focused. There is definitely one goal and that is to bring home the gold medal. This team has good chemistry. No one cares who gets the credit. Everyone does what needs to get done.”

Scoring in every inning, the USA opened a 2-0 lead after two innings on a Malm run-scoring double and an RBI grounder by Andrew Aplin (OF; Suisun City, Calif.). A four-run third made it 6-0 before Team USA unloaded in the fourth inning. The Americans sent 15 batters to the plate, collecting eight hits, en route to its double-digit run total. A two-run double by Maddox ignited the uprising, which also featured RBI hits from Nolan Fontana (INF; Orlando, Fla.), Wes Hatton (OF; Norco, Calif.), David Nick (INF; Cypress, Calif.) and Aplin. In his second at bat, Maddox picked up his third RBI of the inning on a fielder’s choice.

“I think this offense is extremely balanced,” Team USA Head Coach Mark Elkins said. “It’s not just one guy who has been contributing. We have very capable hitters from 1 to 9 through the order. That’s a valuable asset.”

After Martinez clubbed his home run to left in the fifth, the USA ended its scoring with a four-run sixth. Malm, who was joined by Fontana and Cameron Garfield (C; Murrieta, Calif.) with three hits, apiece plated two runs with his second RBI double while Jonathan Meyer (INF-OF; Simi Valley, Calif.) also had a run-producing two-bagger.
Not to be outdone, USA starting pitcher Cecil Tanner permitted just one hit, a first-inning single, in six innings on the mound. He issued two walks while fanning nine. Malm worked the final frame, allowing a hit while striking out one.

“I thought both Cecil and Jeff pitched well,” Elkins said. “When you have a free-swinging team like Russia, you have to throw strikes. They did that today. This was just a total team effort.”

Adding to the Americans’ 21 hits were three Russia fielding errors and eight walks issued by four pitchers, who also hit six USA batters with pitches. That total was just one shy of the 18U Team single-game Worlds mark.

Team USA has now outscored three IBAF Worlds opponents 50-6 while hitting at a .442 clip. Meanwhile, the Americans’ pitching staff has allowed just 17 hits and five earned runs in 23 innings for a 1.96 earned run average.

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