Palmerston North, New Zealand – The USA Softball U-18 Men’s National Team (MNT) went a full seven innings against Singapore and came out on top, 4-2, on Friday afternoon at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup.
Retiring the Singapore side in order to start the game, Ian Winterhalder (Murray, Utah) quickly broke open scoring for the U.S. after hitting a triple and crossing home on a passed ball. Singapore led off the second with a single to left field before the U.S. turned a double play to clear the bags. Despite an infield error, a flyout brought the offense back to the plate. Matthew Armitage (Evansville, Wisc.) and Blake Kerr (Vassar, Mich.) drew back-to-back two-out walks before a strikeout kept the score 1-0 in favor of the U.S.
Singapore scored a run of their own in the third inning, hitting back-to-back doubles to tie the ballgame 1-1. Eli Rivas (Whittier, Calif.) led off the bottom half with a single to right field and while pinch-runner Manuel Mendam (Vassar, Mich.) was picked off at first, Winterhalder followed with his second triple of the game to give U.S. another chance. William Ponce (Olathe, Kan.) then reached first on a hit-by-pitch but was called out after leaving early, and a groundout kept the game tied at the end of three innings.
Jumping out front in the fourth inning was Singapore, who led off with a triple before tagging up on a fly out to centerfield. The U.S. was sat down in order after a fly out and pair of strikeouts closed out the fourth inning with Singapore up, 2-1.
Singapore threated to score additional in the fifth inning, notching back-to-back singles before a fly out and double play stranded the two runners. A single from Rivas and pair of walks to Winterhalder and Ponce loaded the bases for the U.S. with two outs in the bottom half of the frame, but a pop out to left field kept them at bay.
The U.S. defense kept Singapore off the board in the sixth and proceeded to plate two in the bottom half of the frame to take back the lead for good. Parker Hopkins (Decatur, Ill.) singled on a bunt and Josh Pernetti (Ceres, Calif.) lined one straight to the pitcher who overthrew first, allowing Hopkins to score and Pernetti to advance to third on the play. Klay Kilpatrick (Sydney, Australia) reached on a fielder’s choice, with Pernetti safe at home to make it 3-2 in favor of the U.S. Kilpatrick made his way around the bags, stealing second and third before a groundout to shortstop gave him time to cross home. Ahead 4-2, Will Kirby (Millington, Mich.) caught a fly out in left field and after a single placed a runner on, the Red, White and Blue turned their third double play of the game to seal their victory.
Josh Eurich (Sebewaing, Mich.) earned the win for the U.S. after tossing a complete game and giving up nine hits and two runs with one walks and one strikeout. Highlighting the day was Winterhalder, who went 2-for-2 with two triples.
Now in the Placement Round (Feb. 27-29) at the WBSC U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup, the U.S. will face South Africa tomorrow Saturday, Feb. 29 at 3:30 p.m. local time in their last matchup of the tournament.