Special to the Daily Light
BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela - The Youth National Team advanced to Saturday’s gold medal game, overcoming a 5-1 deficit to defeat Cuba, 11-6, on Thursday night at Daniel Canonico Stadium.
Waxahachie’s Colton Cain got his first win with four innings of relief after Cuba jumped out to an early lead. He allowed just one unearned run on three hits while striking out seven.
Cain also drove in a run with a sacrafice fly and walked.
Team USA took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Third baseman Luke Bailey (La Grange, Ga.) doubled off the center field wall to start the frame. Leftfielder Randal Grichuk (Rosenberg, Texas) then moved Bailey to third with a sacrifice bunt and first baseman Matt Davidson (Yucaipa, Calif.) followed with an RBI-single to short to score Bailey.
Cuba tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom half of the fourth, scoring on an RBI-single by rightfielder Alejandro Garcia.
Cuba would score four times in the bottom of the fifth to take a 5-1 lead. The first two runs came on an RBI-double by second baseman Julio Gongora and on an RBI-groundout by leftfielder Horiel Hezquia. Cuba then scored twice on a USA error. With two down and runners on the corners, first baseman Carlos Martinez went down swinging but catcher Max Stassi (Yuba City, Calif.) could not hold onto the third strike.
Stassi lost the ball out in front of the plate and when he rushed his throw to first, it sailed down the right field line, allowing shortstop Yandy Diaz and third baseman Alay Lago to score.
Team USA responded with four runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 5-5.
Stassi led off the inning with a single to right. Two batters later, Grichuk drew a walk to move Stassi into scoring position. Davidson would then reach when Diaz dropped a shallow fly in left, loading the bases.
Center fielder Andrew Aplin (Suisun, Calif.) was then hit by a pitch, allowing Stassi to score. Rightfielder Robert Refsnyder then reached on a fielder’s choice that drove in Grichuk. With two outs, Austin Maddox (Jacksonville, Fla.) came on to pinch hit and delivered a two-run double to center to score Davidson and Refsnyder, tying the game at 5-5.
Team USA then scored six runs in the top of the seventh to take an 11-5 lead. Second baseman Zach Vincej (Saugus, Calif.) doubled over the centerfielder’s head to begin the frame.
After Vincej advanced to third on a wild pitch, Stassi sent an RBI-single up the middle to bring him in. Stassi would then move to second on a passed ball before advancing to third on an infield single by Bailey.
Bailey then stole second and two batters later, Davidson drove in Stassi with a single to third. Aplin followed with a line drive single to left to plate Bailey.
After Refsnyder was hit by a pitch to load the bases, pitcher Colton Cain (Waxahachie, Texas) lifted a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center, scoring Davidson and moving Aplin to third.
Shortstop Nick Franklin (Longwood, Fla.) would then come up to the plate and fall behind 0-2 in the count. After forcing the count to 3-2, Franklin was intentionally walked to load the bases. Vincej then capped the inning with a two-run single up the middle, driving in Aplin and Refsnyder.
After a pair of USA errors kept the bottom of the eighth going, Cuba scored on an RBI-single by pinch hitter Edwin Vassell to make it an 11-6 ballgame.
Cuba would then load the bases but Cain got Gongora and Hezquia to strike out swinging to end the inning.
Cain picked up the win for Team USA after holding Cuba to one unearned run on three hits in four innings of relief. Cain struck out seven batters and walked none in the win.
Starter Steven Rodriguez (Miami, Fla.) fanned nine batters in five frames and allowed only two earned runs on six hits.
Vincej led Team USA at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double, a pair of RBI and a run scored.
Davidson finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored, Bailey was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored and Stassi went 2-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored. Aplin finished 1-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored, Maddox was 1-for-1 with a two-run double and second baseman Justin Charles (Galt, Calif.) finished 1-for-3.
Refsnyder had an RBI and two runs scored in the win, while Cain had an RBI and Grichuk scored a run.
Team USA will play in the gold medal game on Saturday.