HAARLEM, Netherlands – Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano led the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team to a 4-3 win over the Netherlands on Sunday to claim the bronze medal at Honkbal Week in the Netherlands.
“It was a fun summer,” Serrano said. “Obviously we didn’t get the medal we wanted to, but we will walk out of this stadium proud with a medal around our necks. We were only together for 30 days, but the relationships built during those 30 days will last a lifetime. I’m honored to say that I was the manager for this great group of young men.
“We may have come up short of the medal we wanted, but we did not come up short on character. The way the game ended today, it challenged us to the very last pitch and we proved that we were up to the challenge.”
On Sunday, Team USA took a 4-1 lead over the Netherlands before withstanding a ninth-inning rally in which its lead was cut to one with a runner at third. The U.S. pitching staff was able to get a big strikeout for the final out, however, claiming bronze-medal honors in the process.
Over the course of Honkbal Week the pitching staff blossomed under Serrano’s tutelage, posting a 1.57 ERA with just 11 earned runs allowed in 63 innings pitched. Gonzaga’s Marco Gonzales was named the “Best Pitcher” at the tournament after going 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and 19 strikeouts to just two walks in 15 innings of work.
The staff worked 27.2 frames without allowing a single run at one point, firing shutouts against Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands during that span.
After opening its training with 10 days in North Carolina where it played a selection of collegiate summer teams and participated in the second annual Prospect Classic with the USA Baseball 18U squad, the Collegiate National Team then traveled into uncharted territory, becoming the first U.S. squad to travel to Cuba to take on its national team in 16 years.
Despite playing a veteran Cuban squad which featured 12 players who have competed in the World Baseball Classic and four who have done so twice, the Collegiate National Team proved its mettle by bookending the five-game series at Latin American Stadium in Havana with victories.
That series would continue in the Netherlands where they split two more decisions as the U.S. went 5-2 during Honkbal Week to claim the bronze.
Overall, the Collegiate National Team finished with an overall record of 12-5, with four of those losses coming in the hotly-contested seven-game series against eventual Honkbal Week champion Cuba. That series saw the two international baseball powers split the first six games before the seventh and final contest went to a 10th-inning tiebreaker. Not only was the final game tied at the conclusion of nine innings, so was the cumulative run total for both teams as each squad had scored 33 runs at that point.