Witt Jr., Leiter lead Team USA to 8th straight 18U title

December 3rd, 2018

Team USA took home its eighth straight gold medal in 18-and-under international competitions Sunday with a 17-2 victory over host Panama in the 2018 COPABE Pan-American Championship final.
The victory at Panama's Rico Cedeno Stadium also helped the U.S. clinch a spot in the 2019 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup in Busan, South Korea, where it hopes to defend its four straight world championships.
A pair of legacy players, both potential first-round picks in the 2019 Draft, led Team USA to the rout. Bobby Witt Jr., son of the former Major League pitcher and a top candidate for the No. 1 overall spot this June, hit for the cycle and was named tournament MVP after hitting .576 with three doubles, three triples, three homers and 18 RBIs over nine games.

Meanwhile, Jack Leiter, son of the former Major Leaguer and MLB Network analyst Al Leiter, struck out five of the first six batters he faced and punched out nine batters in four scoreless innings on the mound. In total, Leiter struck out 20 and allowed two hits, two unearned runs and five walks across eight innings during the tournament.
Team USA jumped out to a 10-0 lead over Panama by the third inning and never looked back. The Americans outscored their opponents 131-27 across their nine contests in the tournament. The 131 runs by Team USA were more than the 2016 and '17 teams scored combined (129).
"I'm really proud of the way we played," said Team USA manager Jack Leggett. "We did all of the things we needed to do to win. I'm just proud to be their coach and we showed what USA Baseball is all about. We were head and shoulders above the others. Proud of how we finished out the tournament."
The title serves as a going-away present for 18U National Team director Matt Blood, who was hired by the Texas Rangers last month to serve as their director of player development. Blood, 33, has been transitioning to his new role over the past month while wrapping up his duties with Team USA.
"I'm really proud of this team and what we accomplished this year," said Blood. "We overcame some hurdles to get where we are, but the guys played really hard and played the game the right way. We scored a lot of runs and they made a pretty strong statement this year. I am proud of what they accomplished."