Thanks to continued dominance from its pitching staff, the USA Baseball 18U National Team improved to a perfect 3-0 at the 2017 World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup on Sunday, clinching a spot in the Super Round of the tournament.
Team USA shut out Mexico, 6-0, in a rain-shortened six-inning game in Thunder Bay, Canada. Left-hander Matthew Liberatore threw all six innings and was brilliant, allowing just one hit and striking out 12.
"For me there is no greater accomplishment than being able to represent your country doing what you love," Liberatore said. "It is a pretty cool feeling to go out there and pitch wearing USA across my chest and on my hat. I definitely want to win a gold medal."
The U.S. is the only undefeated team in its group, Group B, with Korea also undefeated in Group A of the U-18 World Cup. Team USA pitchers have a 0.39 ERA, with just one run against them in 23 innings. They've struck out 37 batters and are allowing just an .071 batting average to opposing hitters, with five hits allowed in the three games.
"It is exciting. It is international baseball," U.S. manager Andy Stankiewicz said. "It has been a quick, abbreviated look but I think the guys are starting to understand what it is going to take to be competitive down the stretch."
Team USA, the three-time defending champion of the tournament, has two more games in pool play and plays next against South Africa at 2 p.m. ET Monday.
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.