By PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 15, 2001
The top 16-year-old pitchers from around the world found out last week what Pinellas County pitchers have known for a while: Lastings Milledge is a really good hitter.
Milledge, a junior at Northside Christian and two-time all-Pinellas outfielder, helped lead the U.S. Youth National Team to the World Championship in Veracruz, Mexico, from Aug. 3-12.
Batting third and playing centerfield, Milledge helped the United States to a 7-0 record in the 12-team tournament, outscoring its opponents 70-14.
The team went 5-0 in pool play then defeated Australia 14-6 in a semifinal, with Milledge stroking two home runs.
In Sunday's 6-2 win in the title game against Venezuela, Milledge had a two-run home run and three RBI, helping the United States overcome an early 1-0 deficit.
Milledge led the U.S. squad with a 1.043 slugging percentage and .625 on-base average.
He tied with shortstop Jeff Flaig of Placentia, Calif., for team-best totals in home runs (three) and runs (11), and he was second in RBI (10) and batting average (.522, 12-for-23) to Flaig.
Milledge also had a double, triple, five walks, was hit by three pitches and went 2-for-2 in stolen bases.
Milledge was one of just four U.S. players who started all seven games.
He also was one of four U.S. players chosen the best at his position in the tournament.
His performance helped erase the bitterness of last summer, when a shoulder injury led to Milledge being cut from the Youth National Team before it departed for the Pan American Games.