USA won their fifth U-18 Pan Am Baseball Championship in a row as they defeated, 17-2, the hosts Panama in Sunday’s final. The USA have now won eight straight gold medals in international baseball in the U-18 age bracket.
Canada won, 5-3, the third place game against Nicaragua and earned a bronze medal.
The USA dominated the Championship game. Starting pitcher Jack Leiter, the older son of former All Star and three-times World Series Champion left hander Al Leiter, only allowed two base runners (both walks) over four innings of work (74 pitches), while striking out nine.
USA offense scored the go ahead run in the bottom of the second against starter Caballero on a couple of defensive errors and broke the game open with a nine run third at bat. Panama needed four pitchers to get through the inning: Caballero and relievers Villalobos, Suarez and Martinez.
The USA combined 14 hits. Shortstop Bobby Witt Junior (the son of Bobby Witt, former World Series Champion and a pitcher for USA in the 1984 Olympics), who is already labeled as the top player of MLB 2019 Amateur Draft, hit for the cycle. Left fielder Corbin Carroll had four RBIs and hit a home run. Also third baseman Yohandy Morales went deep.
Panama managed to get only three hits and scored the only earned run on a solo homer by catcher Herrera off Jacob Meador in the top of the ninth.
The U-18 Pan Am Baseball Championship bronze medal game was much more exciting.
Canada and Nicaragua took a 3-3 tie into the eighth inning and both starters, Abram for Canada and Umana for Nicaragua, left with a no decision.
Canada got the lead in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a two-run homer by LaRon Smith against reliever Lopez. On a one ball, two strike-count, the second baseman sent a breaking ball over the left field wall for the second home run of his tournament.
Reliever Jean earned the win going 4.2 innings and allowing only one hit and two walks, while striking out four.
USA, Panama, Canada and Nicaragua will represent the Americas in the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2019, to be played in Gijang, Korea.