TAICHUNG, Taiwan -- Trailing 6-5 in the top of the ninth, Team USA scored two runs and then closed out the bottom half of the inning to capture the gold medal at the 2009 IBAF 'AA' World Youth Championships with a 7-6 come-from-behind win over Cuba on Sunday night at Intercontinental Stadium.
The U.S. won its fourth straight international gold medal. In the last four years, the Americans are 31-0 in tournament competition. The last U.S. loss was to Cuba in the gold-medal game at the 2005 world championship in Monterrey, Mexico.
Left fielder Austin Cousino (Dublin, Ohio) drew a one-out walk to start the top of the ninth. Shortstop Francisco Lindor (Clermont, Fla.) then singled up the middle to move Cousino to third. After Lindor stole second, second baseman Kevin Kramer (Turlock, Calif.) lifted a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Cousino and moving Lindor to third. Catcher Evan Powell (Lake Charles, La.) then drove in the game-winning run with a double to left.
Cousino earned tournament MVP honors, was named one of the top three outfielders and had the most RBIs (18) in the tournament. Center fielder JoMarcos Woods (Orlando, Fla.) was also named as one of the top three outfielders and finished the tournament with the highest batting average (.667) and most runs scored (19). Cory Geisler (Spring, Texas) was named the tournament's best left-handed pitcher, and Lindor was named its best shortstop.
Geisler (2-0) came up big on the mound again for the U.S. Just two days after shutting Chinese Taipei down over the final 6 1/3 innings in an 11-8 win in the quarterfinals, Geisler came on in relief of starter Kenny Mathews (Diamond Bar, Calif.) and limited Cuba to one unearned run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings. Geisler struck out three batters in the win.
The U.S. took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Cousino led off the game with a single through the right side. Lindor followed with a double to right-center, moving Cousino to third. Kramer then sent a sacrifice fly to center to drive him in.
Cuba scored three runs in the bottom of the second to take a 3-1 lead. Third baseman Lazaro Hernandez scored on an error, center fielder Yasiel Balaguert had an RBI double and catcher Iran Falcon added an RBI double in the frame.
First baseman Gulliermo Aviles hit a solo homer and Balaguert added an RBI double in the bottom of the third to extend Cuba's lead to 5-1.
The Americans added a run in the top of the fifth to cut Cuba's lead to 5-2. After Lindor was hit by a pitch with one out, he stole second and advanced to third when the throw from Falcon skipped into center. Kramer was then hit by a pitch to give the U.S. runners on the corners. Powell then lifted a sacrifice fly to left to score Lindor.
The U.S. tied the game at 5-5 with a three-run seventh inning. Woods lined a leadoff single to left. Cousino followed with an RBI double to left, scoring Woods from first. Cousino would then advance to third on a strikeout. Kramer was then walked on four straight pitches to knock Cuba starter Darien Nunez out of the game. Kramer then stole second, and when the throw from Falcon skipped under Balaguert's glove and into center, Kramer and Cousino both scored to tie the game.
Cuba scored on an error in the bottom of the eighth to take a 6-5 lead before the winning rally by the U.S. in the ninth.
Lindor led the U.S. at the plate, finishing 3-for-4 with a double, three stolen bases and two runs scored. Cousino went 2-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and an RBI, Woods was 2-for-4 with a run scored and Powell finished 1-for-4 with the game-winning double and two RBIs. Geisler was 1-for-3 with a double, and Kramer drove in two runs and scored once.
Lindor's three stolen bases tied the 16U National Team's single-game record.
Rogelio Armenteros (1-1) took the loss for Cuba after allowing two runs in the ninth.