TAINAN, Taiwan - The USA Baseball 12U National Team won the 2017 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup in front of a sellout crowd at the 11,000-seat Tainan Stadium, defeating Chinese Taipei, 7-2, on Sunday night.
Team USA has left the WBSC U-12 World Cup with a gold medal all three times it has participated in the event, after being crowned World Champions in 2017, 2015 and 2013.
The 12U team struck first in the third inning, when Kai Caranto (Santa Clarita, Calif.) ripped a three-run home run to left field to score Spencer Butt (Davie, Fla.), who walked to start the frame, and Benjamin Reiland (Irvine, Calif.), who singled and Raffaele Velazquez (Long Beach, Calif.) followed Caranto with a home run of his own to right field, extending the Team USA to 4-0.
After Chinese Taipei scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth, the United States responded with three runs in the top of the fifth, when Velazquez smacked an RBI-double to left field, scoring Caranto who singled earlier in the frame and an error on the pitcher on a failed pickoff attempt, plating Brad Burnes (Belvedere, Calif.) from first base and Velazquez from third, giving the 12U team the 7-2 advantage.
On the final play of the game, Errick Barnes Jr. (San Diego, Calif.) fielded a groundball at second base, and threw over to Velazquez at first, sending the Team USA players into a frenzied celebration that culminated with a dog pile in the center of the infield.
Brandon Olivera (Hialeah, Fla.) was masterful on the mound, only allowing two runs on two hits, while striking out two and earning the win in four innings of work and Caranto closed out the game, throwing two scoreless frames after entering in the fifth.
Caranto finished 2-for-3 with two runs and three RBI, while Velazquez also went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI to pace the Team USA offense.
Three U.S. players were named to the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup All-World Team, including Josh Atomanczyk (Franklin, Texas), Caranto and Velazquez. Caranto was named the Most Valuable Player of the WBSC U-12 World Cup.