Franklin's Atomanczyk helps USA U-12 reach WBSC championship game

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TAINAN, Taiwan - The USA Baseball 12U National Team advanced to the gold medal game with its 12-10 win over Mexico in the final game of the Super Round in the 2017 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup, on Saturday morning at Tainan Stadium.

Team USA is the two-time defending champion of the WBSC U-12 World Cup and will take on Chinese Taipei tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. ET, for the third consecutive gold medal game. The U.S. will look to best Chinese Taipei after falling 16-2 to the host team on Thursday night.

Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the first, Team USA got on the board after Benjamin Reiland (Irvine, Calif.) led off the inning with a single and scored later in the frame on a wild pitch and Raffaele Velazquez (Long Beach, Calif.) tied the game up at 2-2, with a sacrifice fly to left field to score Josh Atomanczyk (Franklin, Texas), who walked earlier in the inning.

With the U.S. down 3-2 in the third, Spencer Butt (Davie, Fla.) led off the inning with a solo home run to right center field and Atomanczyk used an RBI-single to score Reiland after he doubled in the frame. After stealing second base and advancing on a failed pickoff, Atomanczyk scored on a Kai Caranto (Santa Clarita, Calif.) sacrifice fly, giving the 12U team the 5-3 advantage.

After Mexico added five runs in the top of the fourth inning, Team USA responded with a six-spot in the bottom of the frame, when Owen Egan (Yucaipa, Calif.) and Errick Barnes Jr. used back-to-back doubles to score the first run of the fourth. Reiland followed with a two-RBI single through the ride side to score Barnes Jr. and Butt who singled earlier in the inning and Caranto gave the United States the 11-8 lead with a three-run home run to right field.

Mexico responded with two runs of its own in the fifth, but the U.S. had an answer, plating a run in the bottom of the frame, after Atomanczyk roped an RBI-double to left center to score Brandon Olivera (Hialeah, Fla.), who walked to lead off the inning, pushing the Team USA lead to 12-10.

In the sixth, Olivera recorded the first out of the inning and Caranto entered the game from shortstop to close it out for the U.S. After giving up a walk to the first batter he faced, Caranto struck out the next two batters to end the game and pick up the save.

Butt earned the win on the mound recording two outs in a relief effort and Olivera threw a solid 1-1/3 innings, allowing no runs on one hit and striking out one.

Team USA finished with 12 hits, eight stolen bases and five walks in the win. Reiland went 4-for-4 with three runs, two RBI and four stolen bases, while Atomanczyk went 2-for-2 with three runs, and two RBI. Butt went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, while Caranto had a game-high four RBI to pace the U.S. offense.

The 12U team will finish up the WBSC U-12 World Cup tomorrow in the gold medal game at 6:30 a.m. ET, against Chinese Taipei or at Tainan Stadium. Fans can watch the gold medal game live on the WBSC YouTube channel or follow the game on USABaseball.com or on Twitter @USABaseball12U.