Gowdy’s relief pitching key in U.S. comeback win

Santa Barbara High’s Kevin Gowdy shut down Cuba’s offense with two innings of scoreless relief, and the USA Baseball 18U National Team rallied for a 6-5 victory to advance to the gold-medal game at the 2015 WBSC U-18 World Cup in Osaka, Japan.

Team USA will play for the gold on Sunday.

Gowdy’s and the rest of the Team USA bullpen played vital roles in the win over Cuba.

After Cuba scored five runs in the third inning to take a 5-3 lead, the Dons’ senior right-hander took over on the mound in the fourth and did his job. Reggie Lawson followed in the sixth and finished the game with four shutout innings. He struck out four and earned the win.

“I’m proud of our guys,” Team USA manager Glenn Cecchini told USA Baseball. “Just like last night, everybody did their part today. Our guys are stepping up. It’s not an individual sport, it is a team sport. That sounds like a cliché but it’s really true. They have been so resilient, persistent and have found a way to win.

“We are getting to be a team. There is no panic, the kids believe in each other and they know the next guy is going to get the job done. I’m still not sure that this team has played its best baseball yet though, and that is a positive. I’d love to see us put it all together the next two games and play our two best games to close this out.”

Trailing 5-4 and Morgan McCullough at third and Mickey Moniak at second base with one out, Nick Pratto hit a sharp one-hopper at the Cuba first baseman. He knocked it down but bobbled it long enough for Moniak to race around third and score the go-ahead run in the seventh.