Taiwan proved no match for a superior US squad in the title game of the II 12U Baseball World Cup Tournament, falling short to the visitors in an 8-1 decision at the Taipei Municipal Baseball Stadium in Tianmu yesterday afternoon to settle for second place.
A seven-run second by a potent US attack, which sent a dozen to the plate against a stingy Taiwanese team that had allowed just a lone run in their quarter-final and semi-final contests, was the difference in the game.
Even though the outcome of the match was disappointing for the defending champs, they showed no signs of letting up, hanging tough with the US the rest of the way to demonstrate tremendous resilience and determination.
“Even though we did not defend the title this time, I am still very proud of our players for what they have accomplished,” Taiwanese skipper Liu Rui-cheng said after the game.
Taiwan’s failure to come up with the timely hits was to blame, as they managed to plate only one run on the six hits they collected off game-winner Justin Campbell, who also received great defensive support in an error-free game to get the job done.
Offensively for the victors, homers by Jakob Hines and Joseph Naranjo led the way for a very balanced lineup, with seven players belting at least one hit against the Taiwanese pitching.
JAPAN 8, VENEZUELA 2
In the bronze medal game, Japan easily topped Venezuela in an 8-2 final in Tianmu yesterday morning to close out this year’s competition on a high note.
Starter Shota Sawamura overcame a two-run first by pitching no-hit ball from the second through the fifth to give his offense a chance to plate eight unanswered runs for the win.
After falling behind by two runs in the top of the first, the young samurais were able to half the deficit in the bottom of the second, when Taiyo Ueda drew a one-out walk off Venezuelan starter Humberto Merentes and scored two batters later on a dropped fly ball to short.
That set up what transpired to be a game-turning five-run third, with Japan jumping all over Merentes and his successor, Manuel Colorado, on the strength of three base hits and several wild pitches to determine the outcome of the contest long before the final out.
Sawamura was credited with the win for his five innings of stellar play, while the loss went to Merentes, who cruised through the first second frames with relative ease before running into a world of trouble in the third inning.
PANAMA 6, SOUTH KOREA 1
Panama won their second game in as many days, after losing to Japan in the quarter-finals on Friday, with a 6-1 triumph over South Korea at the Taipei Youth Park yesterday afternoon to end the tournament with a fifth-place finish.
Scoring early and often, the Central Americans opened the contest with two quick runs in the first inning, and padded their cushion by three in the second and one in the third to take a commanding 6-0 lead.
That was more than ample for starter Derek Arroyo, who took a shutout into the fifth before surrendering South Korea’s lone run in the game in a complete-game effort.
MEXICO 4, BRAZIL 0
In the battle for No. 7, Mexico blanked Brazil in a 4-0 score at the Taipei Youth Park yesterday morning to exit the 11-day tournament on a positive note.
Mexico’s Hector Vargas saved his best for last by going six scoreless innings of two-hit ball to record the complete-game shutout win.