By David Lim
Third baseman Arden Pabst ’13 took home a gold medal from the International Baseball Federation World Youth Championships in Mexico after the 16U U.S. team shut out Cuba 9-0 in the final.
“[The tournament] didn’t go as well as I would have liked, but I did have a very good game against Venezuela,” Pabst said. “I played well when it really mattered. I hit two hits and scored two runs, and I started a couple of big rallies to come back, and we won it in ten innings.”
In that critical second round game that determined which team would progress to the final, the U.S. team was down five runs at the end of the eighth inning.
“We were down five runs,” Pabst said. The first guy of the inning struck out. Then I got up and I had two strikes on me, and I got a hit, and then I ended up scoring. Then we scored five runs in that inning, and we took the lead. I kind of started that rally.”
Venezuela scored a run in the top of the ninth inning to take a 15-14 lead. Pabst was the first hitter up for the United States in the bottom of the ninth.
“I hit a ground ball to third base, and the third baseman threw it away, so I got on second,” Pabst said. “They put a pinch runner in for me and he scored to tie up the game again,” Pabst said.
Pabst’s two runs helped propel the U.S. team into the finals in the ten inning 18-17 victory.
To qualify for the national team, he attended multi-stage trials at the 16U level of competition run by USA Baseball.
After a preliminary round in Arizona, the top 40 players were invited to a week-long tryout at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
He was named to the team on Aug. 13 and, after a week of training with the team, headed off to the IBAF World Youth Championships in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico.
“It was pretty cool traveling as a team,” Pabst said. “We had our travel [sweatsuits] on, and [people] recognized us, so that was pretty cool.”
From the airport, Pabst and the team were escorted to the hotel by police and stayed in the guarded hotel along with a few other international teams.
In their final against Cuba, the U.S. team took the lead early and maintained defensive dominance throughout the game.
“I pretty much knew we were going to win, pretty much right off the bat, because we scored on them early,” Pabst said.
After the U.S. team won the tournament, Pabst had time to get to know some of his international opponents.
“We came back to the hotel and all the other teams were congratulating us, and then we would trade apparel,” Pabst said. “Everyone wanted USA apparel, so I actually ended up trading. I got two baseball mitts from the Chinese Taipei players, and one from the Australian guy.”
New transfer Max Fried ’12 and fellow pitcher Lucas Giolito ’12 were both in the process for trying out for the USA Baseball 18U Team, an age level above Pabst’s, but will not attend in order to recover from their summer play in time for the spring season.
Both players were named to the preliminary 28-man roster for the 18U team and originally planned to attend the tryouts. However, the Pan-American Championships were delayed from September to November due to a national disaster in the area, according to a USA Baseball press release, and would have forced both players to extend their pitching season without a break to recuperate.
The rescheduling of the tournament played a major role in Giolito’s decision to not participate in the tryouts.
“I definitely would have gone over, stayed in shape, and I would have left Sept. 12, hopefully make the team and then go to Cartagena in September, and them come back Oct. 2,” Giolito said. “But pushing it back and Team USA not pushing the trials back as well made it too hard for me to be able to go and get a good rest period.”
Fried, who like Giolito committed to UCLA last year, transferred to Harvard-Westlake after his former school, Montclair College Preparatory, shut down its athletics program. He said he is taking his break so he can focus on the season and winning league again this year.
“It doesn’t make sense for me to take time off for just my physical health and then try to get back into shape really fast and then take more time off and then get back into shape for the season,” Fried said.
“I feel like that would hinder my ability during spring, for school season, and the last thing I want to do is mess up or try to ruin anything that’s going to happen during the spring.”