US 18U National Team in MN for World Championship Trials and Tune-Ups



By Josh Threlkeld
Prep Baseball Report MN

With summer winding down, many things are keeping us occupied. But, one of the cooler baseball moments of the summer has been taking place in the Twin Cities over recent weeks. For those that were unnaware, the U.S. 18U National Baseball team has held it’s trials in Minnesota over the past two weeks. The first part of trials consisted of inter-squad scrimmages which would yield the final roster that will compete in the world championships in Thunder Bay, Canada. To prepare for the championships, the team has taken on various regional competitors (Iowa Western CC, Madison Area Technical College) at sites like Siebert Field on the campus of the University of Minnesota and Target Field (MN Twins).

Monday they had the opportunity to experience a Minnesota baseball treasure, Chaska Athletic Park. Being from Minnesota I’ll tell you, town baseball is very prevalent in the summer in Minnesota. Many of these teams are comprised of guys anywhere from 16-50+ years that compete with mainly hometown guys for a state title. Kids recruited out of Minnesota almost always have a way to play ball in the summer that doesn't involve going to a collegiate league. The Chaska Cubs are a great example of one of these teams. The Cubs are yearly state title contenders and had wrapped up the regular season at home a few weeks ago. Even with their home team in the state tournament (which wraps up next week, volunteers from the Chaska Cubs town and high school teams were more than willing to open their doors for one more game.

Team USA had been practicing in Chaska at times throughout the week and seemed very comfortable as they would be on the winning end of an 11-0 game. A 3-run shot by Wisconsin’s Jared Kelenic (PBR 2018 #1) in the first inning would set the tone for Team USA who scored four runs in both of the first two frames and two in the third to hold a 10-0 lead after three innings.

Blizzard starter and Missouri commit Seth Halvorson (Heritage Family Christian) pitched the first two innings where walks put him in tough spots. The final four innings would be pitched by Illinois commit Aiden Maldonado (Rosemount High School) and recent 2019 TCU commit Will Frisch (Stillwater High School). Maldonado and Frisch would keep USA hitters in check allowing just 2H, 2R, 1ER, 3BB, and 5K.

Maldonado and Frisch both used three pitches in the zone and in good sequences to do their best to keep the USA hitters off balance, which is not an easy task with that lineup. Maldonado sat 88-90 with the FB with soft arm side slide that was sharper when he was down in the zone. The CH with depth at 80 and BB at 78 were used in all counts with confidence.

Frisch seemed locked in and would open some eyes in his one inning of work. Despite two walks and being hit by a comebacker, Will was sitting at 91-92 and touched 93 with heavy, late arm side run. Complimented by a CH 79-81 with hard sink and a BB 69-72 all thrown with a high arm slot driven by a solid frame would result in two strikeouts in the inning for Frisch.

On the day the Blizzard would muster only two hits, only one coming off of USA starter Brandon Dieter of South Hills High School in California who pitched 5 efficient innings totaling 53 pitches and six strikeouts. Peter Brookshaw, a North Dakota State University commit from Prescott, WI, would get both hits for the Blizzard. Patience and composure in the box, start to finish balance, and + hands, would culminate in success for Brookshaw at the plate. 

Box Score

The US will begin tournament play against the Netherlands on Friday, September 1. The National Team schedule can be found here.