AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico - Team USA scored seven runs over the first three innings and the quick offensive start led to a 10-2 victory over Mexico to claim gold and win the 2018 COPABE U-12 Pan American Championships with a perfect 9-0 record. It marks the first time the USA has won the tournament after finishing runner-up in 2014 and 2016.
"I can't say enough about our guys," said a joyful USA 12U National Team head coach Todd Fine. "From start to finish, we continued to build everyday. We ran the table and went 9-0. These kids have given everything we have asked of them. It is a special group and they have a medal to show for it."
USA scored at least one run in the first inning of each game of the tournament and Sunday was no different. Leadoff batter Kameron Davis (Albany, Ga.) was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first inning and eventually scored on an error for a 1-0 USA lead.
The stars and stripes were able to void out the overflow crowd of thousands at CECADI Stadium with a four-run second inning. With the bases loaded, Christian Hamilton (Lauderhill, Fla.) hit a ball booted by the third baseman, resulting in Julius Pfau (Tampa, Fla.) and Brock Thompson (Bakersfield, Calif.) scoring. Masato Chilcutt (San Antonio, Texas) followed with an RBI-single up the middle, and Hamilton completed the four-run inning by scoring on a wild pitch to take a 6-0 lead.
Dean Moss (Hillsborough, Calif.) struck out to leadoff the third inning, but was able to reach on a dropped third strike. Paul Dominguez (Anaheim, Calif.) made Mexico pay for the mistake, hitting a monstrous two-run home run well beyond the center field fence and into the parking lot. Dominguez's fifth home run of the tournament not only provided USA an 8-0 lead, but it also was USA's 38th home run of the tournament to set a USA single-tournament record.
The offense was clicking for USA, but so was Kibru Pam (Pasadena, Calif.) on the mound. The starting pitcher faced one batter over the minimum through his first four innings. He allowed two hits over the span and both were infield singles. He faced trouble in the fifth inning, allowing a runner to score from third base on a bases loaded ground out, but he prevented any further damage with a strikeout for the third out while two runners were in scoring position.
USA matched the Mexico run in the bottom of the fifth inning with a Thompson two-out infield single to score Kailand Halstead (Aberdeen, Wash.). They added insurance in the bottom of the sixth inning with a high arching two-run home run from Hamilton for his fourth home run of the tournament. The blast extended the USA lead to 10-1.
Hamilton, who moved from center field to the mound to start the sixth inning, allowed one hit over the final two innings of work. Mexico's Ricardo Orozco led off the seventh inning with a single and eventually scored on a passed ball. Hamilton was able to force Fernando Rubio into a double play to end the game and the on-field celebration began for the U.S.
Chilcutt (2-for-4), Davis (2-for-3), Moss (2-for-4) and Thompson (2-for-3) each had a multi-hit game for the U.S. Hamilton led the squad with a three-RBI performance. On the mound, Pam (1-0) claimed the victory with one run allowed off three hits and struck out four batters. Salvador Villegas was straddled with the loss for Mexico, allowing seven runs (six earned) off five hits in 3.1 innings.
The win moved USA to 5-2 all-time against Mexico, and they are 1-1 against them in U-12 Pan American championship games. USA went 9-0 in the tournament and their 10-2 win over Mexico was their smallest margin of victory. Their success in the tournament qualified them for the 2019 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup in Taiwan. The USA Baseball 12U National Team, winning their first gold at the U-12 Pan American Championships, are a three-time defending world champion at the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup.
Inside the Numbers
4 - Four members of the U.S. received all-tournament awards and honors. Kibru Pam (MVP), Kailand Halstead (Batting Champion), Dean Moss (RBI Champion, First Baseman) and Brock Thompson (Second Baseman) each received recognition at the conclusion of Sunday's game.
127-7 - The U.S. outscored their opponents 127-7 and they outhit them 122-20. USA's pitching staff pitched two no-hitters and four one-hitters in the tournament. Their prior single-tournament record for runs allowed was 81 (2015) and hits was 87 (2015).
41 - USA combined for 41 runs in the first inning (they did not allow a run in the first inning) during the tournament.
39 - The U.S. hit 39 home runs in the tournament which topped their prior single-tournament high of 37 from the 2016 tournament.
32 - In 38 innings of at-bats, USA scored at least 1 run in 32 of the innings.
12 - Twelve different USA players hit a home run in this season's tournament. Kailand Halstead led the team with six.
.557 - USA hit .557 in the tournament (single-tournament record). Dean Moss led the team hitting .727 (16-for-22).
.579 - The U.S. hit .579 (70/121) with runners on base. They held their opponents to 0-for-22 in the same category through the first five games of the tournament (opponents finished 6-for-62, .097). USA went 53-for-87, .609 with runners in scoring position.