12U: US claims IBAF World Cup championship
Team USA defeats Chinese Taipei, 8-1, in gold medal game
TAIPEI CITY, Chinese Taipei -- Playing in front of a near-capacity crowd at the 10,500-seat Tianmu Stadium, the USA Baseball 12U National Team won the gold medal at the International Baseball Federation World Cup with an 8-1 victory over host Chinese Taipei on Sunday.
"Our goal coming into this tournament was to win the gold medal, and it is very satisfying to be able to say that we accomplished that," USA manager Dave Webb said. "All the credit goes to our players who battled all tournament and really grew up, both on and off the field, before our eyes. This is a very special group of kids with unbelievable amounts of potential and a lot of good baseball in front of them.
"I want to thank the IBAF and Chinese Taipei for hosting a first-class tournament, tip my hat to all of the other teams and thank all of the fans who were there today. The atmosphere was incredible from start to finish, and it was an honor to be able to walk off that field as the championship team."
Team USA had four players named to the all-tournament team, with Justin Campbell (Simi Valley, Calif.) named the best starting pitcher, Kevin Martin (Miami, Fla.) the best relief pitcher, Anthony Volpe (Watchung, N.J.) the top second baseman and Jakob Hines (Tampa, Fla.) one of the three best outfielders.
Campbell picked up his second win of the tournament on Sunday, firing 5 2/3 strong innings against Chinese Taipei. He allowed just one run while scattering six hits and striking out four before reaching the maximum pitch limit with one out left in the game. Matt Allan (Sanford, Fla.) would come on to record that final out to earn the save and clinch the championship for the U.S.
At the plate, Joseph Naranjo (Chino, Calif.) and Hines each launched a home run and finished 2-for-3 in the victory, during which five different players drove in runs and eight crossed the plate.
For the tournament, the U.S. squad hit at an incredible .507 clip as a team, led by Hines, who finished 14-for-20 (.700) with six doubles, three home runs, 11 runs scored and a tournament-high 15 RBIs.
On the mound, Team USA allowed just five earned runs over nine games for a miniscule ERA of 0.65. In 46 innings of work, the U.S. pitching staff struck out 50 while walking just 21 and held opposing hitters to a .120 batting average.
After a scoreless first inning in Sunday's tournament finale, the U.S. offense absolutely erupted in the bottom of the second, sending 12 batters to the plate in a seven-run frame. Naranjo set the tone by blasting a leadoff home run. The next four batters all followed with singles to make it a 2-0 game.
Although a strikeout ended that streak of consecutive batters to reach base, Adam Crampton (Oakland, Calif.) quickly started another when he was hit by a 2-2 pitch with the bases loaded to add another tally to the scoreboard. Volpe then laced a base hit back up the middle that skipped past the Chinese Taipei center fielder to clear the bases and put the U.S. up, 6-0. Hines tacked on one more run moments later when he doubled to bring in Volpe.
Although Chinese Taipei got back-to-back hits to score its only run of the game in the top of the fourth, Team USA got it right back when Hines took a 2-0 offering and deposited it over the center-field wall for a solo home run in the home half of the inning.
From there, the U.S. rode the right arms of Campbell and Allan the rest of the way before Naranjo made an over-the-shoulder catch down the right-field line for the game's final out, sending the Team USA players into a frenzied celebration that culminated with a dog pile in the center of the infield.