Sun-Gazette’s 2018 International all-stars
–Gi Jeong Kim, South Korea (catcher): The leader on the field for the International champions controlled the game from the behind the plate as an athletic catcher who could block any ball in the dirt. A constant encourager of his pitchers, he helped guide the pitching staff to a 0.48 ERA in 25 innings pitched heading into Sunday’s championship game. Also was third on the team with a .455 batting average with a pair of extra-base hits. He drove in three runs and scored three more as South Korea started the tournament 4-0.
–Shinji Furusawa, Japan (infield): In an unusually down year for offense, Furusawa was one of the more consistent hitters for a Japanese team which finished third in the world. He finished with a .308 batting average in six games. Had an RBI in series-opening wins over Spain and Panama to help Japan reach the winners’ bracket final. Was a solid defender at third base for a stout defensive squad. He threw three shutout innings in a crucial win over Panama, scattering just three hits and striking out three.
–Eric Rodriguez, Puerto Rico (infield): In his first game at the Series, Rodriguez gave International champion South Korea all it could handle and then some. The pitcher and shortstop threw 5 1/3 innings of no-hit ball and left with a 2-0 lead. But Asia-Pacific rallied and tied the game after he left and won it in the top of the ninth. Rodriguez also had an RBI single in the loss. In his five games in Williamsport, Rodriguez batted .364 (4 for 11) with four RBIs and a homer in a 6-0 win over Australia. On the mound in two appearances, he threw a combined 9 2/3 innings. Rodriguez allowed just three hits and an earned run while striking out 14 and he picked up the win over Canada.
–Carlos De Jesus, Puerto Rico (infield): After a slow start in which he started 0 for 4 against Asia-Pacific, De Jesus ended on tear as he recorded three consecutive games with a hit. In two of those he had multiple hits, including a 3 for 4 effort in which he hit two home runs with three RBIs in a win over Canada to reach the international semifinal. He was the only player in the entire Series to have multiple home runs in a game. The first baseman also added two hits and two RBIs in a 3-1 win over Latin America. In his five-game stay in Williamsport, De Jesus batted .353 with four runs and six RBIs. He also played error-free defense at first base in 21 total chances.
Adan Sanchez, Panama (infield): A mountain of a man at shortstop for Panama, Sanchez led the Latin America champs with a .714 batting average. That mark was tied with Hunter Nishina of Hawaii for the highest batting average in the tournament. In three games, Sanchez was 5 for 7 with a double a home run. He drove in four runs, scored three more, and drew three walks. An imposing figure in the batter’s box, Sanchez went 3 for 4 in a tournament-opening win over Canada, hitting a double, homer and driving in three runs. He finished the tournament with a 2.086 OPS and a 1.286 slugging percentage. Shut the door on a sixth-inning Canada rally with a trio of strikeouts to end the game. He also struck out nine in 4 2/3 innings against Japan in the winners’ bracket semifinals.
Nate Colina, Canada (outfield): The top hitter on a Canada team which won a pair of games at the World Series for the second consecutive year. Colina hit .429 (6 for 14) with an RBI and four runs scored. Twice posted multi-hit efforts and recorded a hit in all four of Canada’s games. Went 2 for 4 with two runs scored in an elimination-game win over Spain. Also had a 2 for 3 effort with a double in Canada’s final game against Puerto Rico. Also threw an inning on the mound over two games, allowing just one hit.
Dio Gama, Canada (outfield): Immigration issues clouded his start to the World Series, but with clear re-entry to Canada promised, the outfielder posted a .357 batting average with a team-best four runs driven in in four games for the team from British Columbia. Was 2 for 3 with a double and a pair of RBIs in a tournament-ending loss to Puerto Rico in the consolation bracket semifinals. Also had a pair of hits in an elimination-game win over Mexico in which he drove in a run, scored a run, and earned a walk. Was perfect in the field, converting on all four of his opportunities.
Ji Hyung Choi, South Korea (outfield): The top hitter on the best offensive team in the tournament, Choi posted a .636 batting average (7 for 11) with a 1.455 slugging percentage heading into Sunday’s world final. He was the only player in the entire tournament to hit three home runs, accounting for six RBIs. He also scored a team-high seven runs. Struck out just two times in 14 plate appearances. Hit a home run in three consecutive games, including a 280-foot bomb on to the hill in left field at Lamade Stadium which gave South Korea a 1-0 lead in the International championship game. Also threw four innings of shutout baseball against the Caribbean champs from Puerto Rico with seven strikeouts. Earned the win in Saturday’s International title game throwing 4 2/3 innings and allowing just one run against Japan, striking out seven. He didn’t allow a walk in his 8 2/3 innings.
–Oscar Hyde, Australia (utility): Hyde announced his presence with authority on the Series’ opening day. He belted a two-run home run in the first inning to lift Australia to a 2-0 lead over Mexico. Hyde also threw 5 2/3 innings of three-hit ball, allowing one unearned run and striking out 11. Australia lost the game in the bottom of the sixth, 3-2, when Hyde was pulled with 88 pitches. In the tournament, Hyde batted .400 and drew three walks in his three games.
–Yeong Hyeon Kim, South Korea (pitcher): The tournament’s most dominant pitcher, Kim struck out at least 10 batters in his two starts for South Korea and was given the start in Sunday’s world championship game against Hawaii. Allowed just one unearned run in in his two starts and threw 1 1/3 innings in the International championship game Saturday to earn the save for South Korea. Threw a complete game, one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts and no walks in the winners’ bracket final against Japan. Also posted a .333 batting average, including a 2 for 3 effort with two doubles and five RBIs in a winners’ bracket final win over Japan.
–Zaeden Pleasants, Canada (pitcher): Quietly had one of the most impressive pitching lines of the entire tournament, throwing 6 2/3 innings over two pitching appearances. He allowed just one run in his two outings. He struck out 16 batters and did not allow a walk or hit a batter in his two outings. In a starting effort against Spain in an elimination game, Pleasants threw 5 1/3 innings, striking out 12 in a win. He scattered just three hits to opposing offenses.