Team USA soars to gold in Puerto Rico
14U National Team captures gold at the COPABE "A" Pan Am Championships
Dec. 2, 2007
(COAMO, Puerto Rico) - Matt Crownover (Ringgold, GA) pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out nine as the USA Baseball 14U National Team captured the gold medal in defeating Venezuela 7-2 at the 2007 COPABE "A" Pan Am Championships in Coamo, Puerto Rico. The gold medal was the second for the 14U National Team in 2007, as it achieved the feat in January at the Pan-American 'A' Regional Qualifying Event in Guatemala as well.
Things finally got underway Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. (AST) after a three and a half hour delay due to rain and field conditions. After the weather cleared and the field was worked on for several hours, both teams were anxious to play. Team USA had to overcome an early error to keep Venezuela off the scoreboard in the top of the first but good defense by first baseman Alex Real (Phoenix, AZ) on a pop-up in foul territory and two strikeouts by starting pitcher Matt Crownover (Ringgold, GA) quickly got the U.S. out of a jam. In the bottom of the first Team USA wasted no time getting a runner on base as leadoff man Zach Davies (Gilbert, AZ) singled to left field then stole second base. Dean Lockwood (Royal Palm Beach, FL) pushed him over to third on a groundball then Reinaldo Almora (Hialeah, FL) hit a homerun to left field giving the United States an early 2-0 advantage. The Venezuelans countered in the second inning with a leadoff homerun, cutting the U.S. lead in half. Jake Gober (Sammamish, WA) then gunned down a Venezuelan base runner trying to steal second to stop the Venezuelan momentum in its tracks.
Team USA got things going again in the third inning. After Lockwood singled and advanced to second on an arrant throw. Alex Real smashed a double off the left field wall to plate Lockwood increasing the U.S. lead to 3-1. Rio Ruiz (Covina, CA) then added an insurance run for the U.S. hitting a towering homerun over the left field wall. Venezuela made a quick pitching change, but it was to no avail as Crownover walked, followed by base hits for Davies and Lockwood, loading the bases for Almora. Almora hit a slow roller to third but the throw home was late and Davies scored making the score 6-1 after four innings of play.
In between the fourth and fifth innings, things got heated when two Venezuelan coaches got ejected for arguing with the umpires. It took nearly twenty minutes, tournament officials and security to restore order to the game as the head coach for Venezuela kept charging at the first base umpire.
After the between-inning fireworks Crownover went back to work striking out one batter and forcing another to hit into an inning-ending double play. Team USA was at it again in the bottom of the fifth inning as they were able to manufacture another run on one walk and one base hit. Andre Real (Orange, CA) eventually scored from third when Venezuela attempted to turn a six-four-three double play but could not convert. In the top of the sixth inning, Crownover got into a bit of a jam walking the leadoff batter then surrendering a base hit and another walk loading the bases, but two emphatic strikeouts and a lazy pop fly in the infield later, Venezuela's threat to score had been squandered.
In the top of the seventh the Venezuelans managed to score one run but Crownover ultimately shut the door on any rally and secured the gold medal for Team USA by ending the game on a strikeout.
Bringing Home the Hardware: Team USA players were well decorated beyond their gold medals as the following players collected awards for their play in the tournament:
Reinaldo Almora (Hialeah, FL) - All Tournament Team (CF)
Zach Davies (Gilbert, AZ) - Tournament MVP, All Tournament Team (SS), Batting Champion
Tyler Kiefer (San Jose, CA) - All Tournament Team (LF)
Alex Real (Phoenix, AZ) - All Tournament Team (1st Base)
Colin Reed (Belmont, CA) - All Tournament Team (LHP)