TAINAN, Taiwan - Team USA clinched a berth in the World Championship Final at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup on Saturday night, knocking off previously undefeated Chinese Taipei 11-3 to advance on a three-way tiebreaker with Venezuela and Japan.
The last game of the Super Round pitted the best offensive team in the tournament against the best performing pitching staff, and by the time the dust had settled, the Team USA bats had won the battle decisively. After falling into a two-run deficit early in the game, the team's hitters hung nine unanswered runs on the scoreboard, blitzing a unit that had not allowed more than three runs in a game all week and building a lead large enough to cruise to victory at the very end.
The catalyst for the stars and stripes' performance at the plate came in the fourth inning with the game tied at two. After three straight hitters managed to reach base safely with two outs, Tyler Early came up with the bases loaded and hammered a 1-1 breaking ball, lining it over the center field fence for a go-ahead grand slam.
This outburst gave starter Paris Head all the room that he needed to go to work on the mound, and he took advantage in a big way. The young righty allowed just two earned runs in his five innings of work, giving up five hits while striking out seven Chinese Taipei hitters en route to his first win of the event as a pitcher.
How It Happened
- Chinese Taipei struck first in the ballgame, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the opening frame.
- Team USA cut its deficit in half in the second, using a Ty Glaus sacrifice fly to put its first run on the board.
- It would then even things up in the third, with a base hit by Leyland Henry and an error by the left fielder bringing home the tying run from second base.
- The fourth inning was where Team USA did its most damage. After back-to-back two-out singles by Greyson Wuis and Micah De Los Reyes and a walk by Nicholis Parker Jr. loaded the bases, Early drove them all home with a line drive grand slam that brought the score up to 6-2.
- The team would keep adding on from there, scoring three more runs in the fifth on three consecutive singles by Parker Jr., Early, and Henry, all with two outs once again.
- Chinese Taipei would tack on a run in the bottom of the fifth, but a big strikeout by Head stranded two runners in scoring position to limit any further damage.
- Team USA would get the run back and more right after, with RBI doubles by Wuis and Parker Jr. bringing its total up to 11 on the day.
- Jett Schoolcraft shut the door for the red, white, and blue in the last half inning, sitting down the Chinese Taipei hitters with no trouble to secure the team's 11-3 victory.
- Early spearheaded the Team USA offense, going 2-4 with the grand slam and five RBIs in what was another stellar performance for the young outfielder.
- The home run brought him into a tie for second on the tournament leaderboard at four, level with teammate Gavin Gomez and Japan's Daito Funayama and just behind Yusuke Koma, also of Japan.
- Parker Jr. set the table in front of Early beautifully, reaching base four times and notching a team-leading three hits.
- Head settled in nicely on the mound after the rough start, retiring 10 of 11 batters faced from the beginning of the second inning through the start of the fifth.
- Of Team USA's 11 runs scored on the day, nine of them were driven in with two outs. This included all five of Early's RBIs and both of Parker Jr.'s
Team USA will now play Chinese Taipei for a second game in a row on Sunday night, this time with a gold medal on the line in the World Championship Final. First pitch is set to take place at 6:30 P.M. local time/6:30 A.M. ET.