THUNDER BAY – A.J. Vanegas threw six innings and allowed just one run to propel the USA Baseball 18U National Team over Australia 4-2 Saturday in USA’s first game of the 2010 IBAF “AAA” (18U) World Junior Championships. Michael Lorenzen (Anaheim, Calif.) led Team USA with a pair of hits and RBI, improving the U.S. to 1-0 in pool play.
A.J. Vanegas (Alameda, Calif.) earned the win pitching six strong innings allowing just one run on four hits with eight strikeouts. John Hochstatter (Danville, Calif.) earned the save tossing three innings and rendering just one run.
Lorenzen paced the U.S. attack with 2-for-2 performance, two walks and two RBI. Marcus Littlewood (Saint George, Utah) added two hits and one RBI, Tony Wolters (Vista, Calif.) added a hit and RBI to round out the U.S. attack.
“Australia is a good ballclub, we had to grind some things out today” said skipper Garye LaFevers. “It is a good win and I think we made some good adjustments in the middle innings to help our case.”
The U.S. got off to a slow start stranding four base runners in the first three frames. Two of USA’s potential base runners were picked off and Australia benefited from one double play.
Australia took the first lead of the game with a solo home run off the bat of Sam Morris in the bottom of the third. Morris provided their Aussie’s first hit and run of the game with the solo blast to give Australia a 1-0 lead.
The momentum swung in Team USA’s favor in the middle innings. Right-fielder Lorenzen rifled out an Australian base runner attempting to go from first to third base to end the fourth frame. The spot on throw carried over to the fifth as the U.S. finally got on the scoreboard.
Lorenzen led off the next inning with a walk and quickly swiped second base. Wolters then ripped a RBI single to right field scoring Lorenzen. After a walk issued to Francisco Lindor (Clermont, Fla.), Littlewood parachuted a RBI double down the left field line to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead after five.
Lorenzen pushed Team USA in front 4-1 in the sixth with a two-RBI single up the middle. Elvin Soto (New York, N.Y.) executed a key sacrifice bunt to move the runners of in scoring position and extend USA’s lead.
Vanegas got stronger on the mound as the game progressed, retiring seven of the last eight batters he faced. Hochstatter was efficient in the final three frames as
Australia threatened in the ninth frame with a solo home run off the bat of Josh Matavesi. The left-hander bounced back with a strikeout and ground out to seal the victory.
The 18U National team will play their second game of pool play Sunday at 7 p.m. against Italy from Port Arthur Stadium. The U.S. will challenge Chinese Taipei Monday at 7 p.m., Venezuela Tuesday at 7 p.m. and France Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
The 2010 IBAF World Junior “AAA” (18U) Baseball Championship will host national teams from Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, Panama, Venezuela and the United States. Teams will begin qualifying games on July 23 and the tournament will culminate in the gold medal game on August 1 at Port Arthur Stadium in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Visit the website at www.worldbaseball2010.com. For tickets, please call toll free at 1-877-422-3201.