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GUATEMALA CITY — In their U-17 Men’s Pan American Championship opener, the USA Softball U-17 Men’s National Team (MNT) claimed an impressive 10-5 eight-inning victory over world-ranked No. 2 Canada. Cody Gibbons (St. Paul, Minn.) went the distance for the Red, White, and Blue, while the offense exploded with a six-run eighth inning to capture the win.
Batting in the leadoff spot, Parker Hopkins (Decatur, Ill.) singled on a fly ball to start the game. A sacrifice bunt from Eli Rivas (Whittier, Calif.) moved Hopkins to second but a groundout and strikeout ended the half-inning. Despite Canada drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the frame, the U.S. held them scoreless after catcher Chase Thomson (Murray, Utah) caught the runner attempting to steal second, and a strikeout and groundout ensued.
The U-17 MNT was retired in the second inning while Canada loaded the bases after a pair of walks and single en route to plating the first run of the game. With the U.S. offense shut down again at the top of the third, Canada jumped out to a 3-0 lead after an RBI double and single.
Two outs came quickly in the top of the fourth inning after Canada’s Yantzi issued a pair of strikeouts. Thomson reached first on a hit-by-pitch and while William Ponce (Olathe, Kan.) singled on a groundball to left field, a strikeout kept the two runners at bay. Canada drew a pair of walks with two outs in the bottom half of the fourth frame, but a flyout to Hopkins in right field brought up the U.S. offense.
Down 3-0 after four innings, the Red, White, and Blue continued to stay focused. A pair of walks to Matthew Armitage (Evansville, Wisc.) and Darren Zimmerman (Martindale, Pa.) quickly put runners on for the U.S. One out later, Hopkins tripled to centerfield to make it 3-2 and put the U.S. within one run of Canada. Canada managed a walk and single in the bottom of the fifth but Gibbons and the defense kept them scoring any additional runs.
The Red, White and Blue scored two runs in the sixth inning to take a 4-3 lead. Three straight walks to Thomson, Ponce and Manual Mendham (Vassar, Mich.) began the frame, while Caden Luna (Gardner, Kan.) sent a two-out single to centerfield to give Thomson and Ponce time to score.
Maintaining the lead through the top of the seventh inning, Canada pushed a run across in the bottom half of the frame to tie the ballgame at 4-4 and force an extra inning.
The U-17 MNT took the lead for good in the eighth inning, plating six runs to take a sizeable lead over Canada. With ITB runner, Klay Kilpatrick (Sydney, Australia), placed on second, Armitage drew a walk before Zimmerman doubled on a hard groundball to plate Kilpatrick. A one-out walk to Hopkins loaded the bases before Canada walked in a run to give the U.S. a 6-4 lead. A fly out marked the second out, but the U.S. continued to add to their lead, scoring on a wild pitch and an RBI single from Ponce. Ahead 8-4, Rivas and Winterhalder, who entered as a courtesy runner for Thomson, scored on a wild pitch to cap off the six-run eighth inning for the U-17 MNT. Canada managed to plate a fifth run off a fielder’s choice in the bottom half of the frame, but a groundout closed out the game and sealed the 10-5 victory for the U.S.
Hopkins and Ponce collected two hits apiece in the U.S. victory, while Gibbons collected the win after striking out three and allowing three earned runs on six hits through eight innings of work in the circle.
The U.S. is back in action tomorrow, November 4 at 5 p.m. CT against No. 9 Mexico. Live stats will be available through USASoftball.com.
Held November 2-9 in Guatemala City, Guatemala, a total of 30 games will be played across eight days as participating countries battle it out to qualify for the 2020 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup. After tomorrow’s game against Mexico, the Red, White and Blue will have additional matchups against No. 5 Argentina (Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. local time), No. 15 Guatemala (Nov. 6 at 8 p.m. local time), No. 46 Belize (Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. local time), and No. 25 Panama (Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. local time).
The top two teams from the Preliminary Round will compete for the Pan American Championship Final on Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. local time, while the third and fourth-place teams will compete for the Bronze Medal at 11:00 a.m. local time on the same day.
Led by Bob Piddock (Castro Valley, Calif.), the roster was announced in September following selection by the Men’s National Team Selection Committee (MNTSC). Joining Piddock on the coaching staff are Tony Aresco (Stoneham, Mass.), Avon Meacham (Upper Marlboro, Md.), and Jerry Zimmerman (Ephrata, Pa.).
About USA Softball
USA Softball (USAS) is a 501(c)(3) not-for profit organization headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla., and is designated as the National Governing Body (NGB) of Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, USAS sanctions competition through a network of Local Associations, which includes all 50 states and select metro associations. USAS is dedicated to providing people of all ages the opportunity to play the game they love at a variety of levels by offering recreational, league, tournament and competitive play for fast pitch, slow pitch and modified pitch. USAS annually conducts thousands of tournaments throughout the country including over 100 National Championships. The USAS umpire program is among the nation’s largest and are widely known as the best-trained umpires in the game.
As the NGB for the sport of softball, USAS is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in events such as the Olympics, Pan American Games, World Championships and other international and domestic events. For more information on USAS, including its founding and history as the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), please visit, www.USASoftball.com.
About the World Baseball Softball Confederation
Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland -- the Olympic Capital -- the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) is the world governing body for baseball and softball. WBSC has 208 National Federation and Associate Members in 135 countries and territories across Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe and Oceania, which represent a united baseball/softball sports movement that encompasses over 65 million athletes and attracts approximately 150 million fans to stadiums worldwide annually.
The WBSC governs all international competitions involving official National Teams. The WBSC oversees the Premier12, World Baseball Classic, Baseball World Cups, Softball World Cups and Softball World Championships, as well as baseball and softball events at the Olympic Games.
For more information, visit www.wbsc.org, which is available six languages: English, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Traditional Chinese.