Dahl, White help Team USA capture gold
By KALA BOLTON / Staff Writer
With the help of Oak Mountain senior David Dahl and Spain Park senior Mikey White, the USA Baseball 18U National Team took the gold at the 2011 COPABE 18U/AAA Pan American Championships in Cartagena, Colombia Nov. 27.
Team USA won its first eight games before taking down Canada 12-2 in eight innings to clinch the gold.
“It was a long process, but it finally paid off with this win,” White, who has signed a college baseball scholarship with the University of Alabama, said of his last run with Team USA.
The team, led by manager Scott Brosius, a three-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees, 1998 World Series MVP and current head baseball coach at Linfield College (Ore.), competed in five exhibition games in Miami Nov. 9-15 before heading to Cartagena.
Team USA knocked out Aruba 15-0 in seven innings, Mexico 3-1, Argentina 16-2, Colombia 4-0 and Bahamas 16-0 in five innings before heading into the final stretch of competition.
“Colombia was the hardest game because they had home-field advantage,” White said of a game that, due to rain delays, boasted a 6,000-spectator turnout as opposed to the projected 15-17,000. “The whole crowd was rooting for them.”
A rain delay split the Puerto Rico game between Sunday, Nov. 20 and Thursday, Nov. 24. Team USA fell behind 2-0 by the top of the fourth inning when the game was halted due to weather.
“We were really hyped up going in, but then they jumped out to an early lead,” said White, who hit 3-for-9 in the match-up.
When it resumed on Thursday, they took control with a 8-2 win before holding a modest Thanksgiving celebration back at their hotel.
The team resumed play Friday, Nov. 25, sweeping Panama 9-0 before topping Venezuela 5-1 Nov. 26 to advance to the championship game.
“The atmosphere was good,” White said of their 12-2 win in eight innings over Canada in the finals. “There wasn’t a big crowd, but you could tell everyone was rooting for us. We stayed on them the whole time.”
Team USA finished the tournament having allowed only eight runs and having scored 88 total. The team committed only two errors total throughout their nine games.
White finished the tournament having scored the most individual runs with nine. Dahl, who has signed a college baseball scholarship with Auburn University, batted leadoff for the team and boasted nine RBIs and seven stolen bases.
Dahl said he will never forget the dogpile after Team USA captured the gold medal.
“I still relive it everyday,” Dahl said.
One important lesson Dahl gained from his USA Baseball experience is to be thankful for the opportunities he has as an American baseball player.
“All of the other teams looked at all of our stuff,” Dahl said. “They would love to have the staff we had. It showed me not to take anything for granted.”