Luke Williams lifts Team USA in Olympics qualifier opener

Phillies prospect Luke Williams (23) scores a run in the first inning (Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports)
Phillies prospect Luke Williams (23) scores a run in the first inning (Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports) /

While the Philadelphia Phillies were routed in Monday’s Memorial Day road series opener against the Cincinnati Reds, one of their prospects — Luke Williams — helped lead the USA Baseball Professional National Team to a convincing win in the opener of the 2021 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Baseball Americas Qualification Event.

Facing Nicaragua at Clover Park in St. Lucie, Florida, Williams went 3-for-3 with three runs scored, two walks, and one RBI while batting leadoff. Playing left field, the 24-year-old recorded one putout and assist each. USA went on to defeat Nicaragua, 7-1.

Phillies infield prospect Luke Williams got Team USA out to a strong start.

Team USA enters the 2021 WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier as the event’s top-ranked country, and the No. 2-ranked country in the world. Team USA will continue its series of Group A games early this week against the Dominican Republic (June 1) and Puerto Rico (June 2). Then, the top two finishers from Group A will go up against the top two from Group B (Cuba, Venezuela, Canada, and/or Colombia) as part of the Super Round on Friday, June 4, and Saturday, June 5.

With records carrying over from the opening round, the remaining team out of these four — with the best overall record after round two — will be declared the winner and granted the fifth berth to the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, joining Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Israel. The second and third-place finishers will qualify for the WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier, to take place June 16-20 in Taiwan.

Former Phillies also playing for Team USA include reliever David Robertson and 2020 spring training invitee infielder Logan Forsythe, who went 1-for 2 while batting sixth as the starting second baseman on Monday. Team USA outhit Nicaragua 14-5, and won by a six-run margin, despite leaving 14 men on base as opposed to their opponent leaving five men on base.

Former Phillies outfielder Jose Bautista and reliever Raul Valdes are members of the Dominican Republic team. Jesmuel Valentin, who played 46 games for the Phillies in 2018, is on Team Puerto Rico. Also, Former Phillies pitcher Scott Mathieson and outfield prospect Tyson Gillies are on Team Canada.

It will be interesting to see how much Williams, Robertson, and Forsythe can help Team USA defeat other teams in this tournament — and ultimately help them qualify for a spot in the Summer Olympics.

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