USA and Mexico showcased on the field what baseball is all about. Team USA prevailed (12-10) and heads to the championship game of the U-12 Baseball World Cup.
It was an emotional game. Pitchers where at times overpowered (4 home runs) and the defensive game was rough every now and then (3 errors by USA, 1 by Mexico), but a very good crowd of fans had no reason to overlook a single at bat.
Both teams need to be praised, but one player deserves a special mention. Kai Caranto homered to give USA a lead that would hold, had 4 RBIs and got the last 2 outs as a pitcher, earning the save.
Mexico hurries to the scoreboard. With one out, left fielder Macias walks and star center fielder Juan Tirado does what he is best at: looks at one ball by USA starter Henry Benny and homers to center field.
The defending champions USA waste no time themselves in getting to opponent starter Monjaras. Center fielder Reiland leads off with a base hit and then steals second. First baseman Atomanczyk walks and both runners move forward on a wild pitch. Monjaras strikes out shortstop Caranto, but runners move again on another wild pitch and Reiland cuts USA deficit. Atomanczyk ties the game on catcher Velazquez sacrifice fly to left field.
Mexico takes a new lead in the top of the second and in the weirdiest way. With 2 outs, Henry issues back to back walks to shortstop Gastelum and Macias. Then he falls behind (3-0) Tirado. As he tries to walk him intetionally, he throws a pitch well above Velazquez mitt and Gastelum scores on the wild pitch. Benny is done and Rainer gets into the game striking out Monjaras.
USA tie it in the bottom of the third. Second baseman Spencer Butt looks at a ball and then homers to center on Monjaras second pitch. Before Mexico can get an out, USA get their first lead of the day. Reiland fouls off 5 pitches and then lines to center, finding Tirado a little late on the move. He is on with a double. He then steals third and scores as Atomanczyk beats Mexico (infield in) with a base hit in the gap to left. Atomanczyk steals second and advances to third on a throwing error by Monjaras. Shortstop Caranto sacrifice fly to right scores Atomanczyk and makes it 5-3.
Mexico is not done. With one out in the fourth, Cano surprises USA defense with a drag bunt. Rainer then walks Gastelum on 4 pitches and makes room for Butt. The newcomer walks Macias to load the bases, then comes up big, as he strikes out Tirado. Monjaras works the count full and then he lines one into center field for a base hit that ties the game. It’s not all: catcher Nava takes Butt deep to left center for a 3 run home run that reverses the lead to Mexico: 8-5.
In the bottom half of the frame USA are set for an immediate comeback. Tirado robs of an extra base hit USA third baseman Arambula, but there’s nothing Mexico can do on back to back doubles by rightfielder Egan and Barnes. Butt singles to put runners at the corners and Reiland follows with a sharp liner to right that scores 2 and ties the game (at 8) once again. It’s all for Monjaras and Alejandro Gutierrez steps to the mound. Reiland steals second and third, then Gutierrez walks Atomanczyk.
Caranto looks at a ball and then goes deep to right for a 3 run homer. Once again the lead is reversead and USA are ahead 11-8. Mexico gives another call to the bull pen and the ball goes to Cesar Cordero. A beautiful sliding catch by shortstop Gastelum on a hard grounder by Arambula up the middle avoids further damage.
There’s no clue it’s over. Mexico loads the bases in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of questionable USA defense. One run scores as USA catcher Velazquez is off home plate when he receivs the assist for the force out on Gastelum chopper to third. Another comes home when Macias drives it off center field fence. Brandon Olivera takes the mound with the bases loaded and no one out, but gets out of the jam striking out Tirado and getting Monjaras ground into an inning ending double play, with shortstop Caranto’s throw beating the head first slide into first by Monjaras.
USA score an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth on Atomanczyk double to left center. Mexico intentionally walks Caranto and then gets Velazquez to ground into a double play beautifully manufactured by first baseman Gallegos and catcher Nava.
Mexico is not giving up. With one out (on a line drive to second) in the sixth, Gallegos is on with a base hit to left. It’s all for Olivera and Caranto heads to the mound, whilemButt fills in at shortstop. Saldana walks and becomes the potential tying run. Fornue strikes out looking for the second out. The game is over when Caranto gets pinch hitter Mendez swinging.