It is amazing how easy it is to remember all the first times in our lives.
I can still recall the first time that I really felt and saw public patriotism.
Admittedly I used to feel a twinge of nationalism watching the Olympics or “Yankee Doodle Dandy” on television, but I was really surprised while attending a 1980 Colorado Rockies hockey game at McNichols Sports Arena.
When the national anthem was played, I can remember everybody loudly singing the anthem and some waving tiny American flags. This was just after the United States’ Miracle on Ice hockey team had won the Olympic gold medal.
ThunderRidge sophomore right-handed pitcher Cale Lansville got up close and personal with the feelings of national pride recently as a member of the United States U15 baseball team that won the 10-day Baseball World Cup on Aug. 19 in David, Panama.
“It was the best feeling just to win a gold medal for your country and having the jersey on every single day,” said Lansville. “With USA across your chest it really puts things in perspective and it was an honor to represent my country.”
It was the first U15 world baseball championship for the United States.
Lansville made two appearances, both starts, and was 1-0 with a 2.16 earned run average. He allowed four hits in 8.1 innings pitched, two earned runs with six strikeouts and five walks in his two outings.
“It was definitely competitive,” he said. “Some teams did things a little differently. Being a pitcher, I saw than Japan was very selective while the Dominicans were very aggressive early in the count.”
The United States went 8-1 in the tournament and downed Panama 7-1 in the title game of the 12-country tournament on Aug. 19.
Lansville was dominant in pitching 5.1 innings in a 4-1 win over previously unbeaten Panama on Aug. 14. He faced just one batter over his minimum while allowing two hits and striking out two batters.
He started and pitched three innings Aug. 18 against Japan in an 8-2 victory and yielded a pair of hits, two runs, one earned with three strikeouts and three walks.
“In the Panama game I felt I really started on top of hitters and mixed my pitches very well,” recalled Lansville. “I established all four of my pitches and threw them for strikes. I threw very well that game.
“Then versus Japan, I had some trouble early with establishing my fast ball. I had to go with my off-speed stuff more and I think that’s where things kind of went wrong.”
Lansville was a regular for ThunderRidge last season as a freshman, pitching 41 innings with a 0-1 record and 2.22 earned run average.
He is looking forward to next spring after his summer of facing international competition.
“My goal every time I go out there to get better,” he said. “I always want to take something away and improve myself. The biggest thing I took away from this summer was just the responsibility that I now have being a USA baseball player and representing my country. When I got back to school everyone was excited for me. They were following on livestream.”
He has a couple memorable souvenirs from the Panama tournament.
“My favorite thing I brought home was a baseball with all my team’s players’ names on it,” he said. “Now I have lifelong friends that I will keep in touch with. We got to keep the white jersey. I’m going to definitely frame it and hang it up.”
Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303-566-4083.
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