Home team Taiwan emerged as champions in the final game of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) U-12 Baseball World Championship at Tianmu Baseball Stadium in Taipei yesterday, beating Cuba 3-2.
Faced with a strong opponent in the Cuban team, Taiwan took advantage of infield slip-ups by the Cubans to score their first run in the second inning with a hit from Yeh Chao-yu (葉晁佑). Cuba’s Miguel Vargas evened the score in the bottom half of the inning, however, with a solo shot to left field.
The turnaround came in the third inning as Taiwan had runners on first and third base with two outs. Wan Chao-ching (萬昭清) hit into right field for a triple, driving in the crucial runs with one swing of the bat. Wan performed well on both sides of the field in the game as, in addition to smacking in the winning runs, the shortstop played magnificent defense in the fourth inning, giving his team the play it needed.
Despite getting back one run with two hits in the sixth inning, the Cubans did not manage to turn the game back in their favor.
Taiwan’s starting pitcher Tseng Wei-en (曾偉恩) gave up five hits and two runs over six innings, but in the end he held down Cuba’s hitters to notch a historic victory.
The triumph was a major boost for youth baseball in Taiwan, who have seen a decline in fortunes in recent international tournaments.
Taiwan were once powerhouses in Little League baseball, but have not won a Little League World Series — which pits teams composed of players from single school districts against each other — since 1996.
The IBAF tournament was the first time national teams of players of Little League age (12 and under) had ever competed on the world stage and Taiwan grabbed the opportunity to shine.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) immediately cabled his congratulations to Taiwan’s manager, Wu Ying-syh (吳映賜), while also praising all the teams for an excellent tournament. Ma will receive the Taiwanese team at his office this morning before joining Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) for a banquet in the evening.
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