With smiles nearly half the size of their faces, players from the USA Baseball 12U National Team jogged around the perimeter of the field at Tainan Stadium in Taiwan in front of an audience of 11,000. A handful of players gripped an American flag.
They wore the smiles of a team that had won three straight gold medals when it comes to the U-12 Baseball World Cup.
On Sunday, the team beat silver-medalist Chinese Taipei 7-2 to close out the nine-game tournament and add to the hardware collection. USA won gold in 2015 and 2013 in addition to this year.
Mexico won bronze after defeating Japan.
Santa Clarita’s Kai Caranto was responsible for nearly half the runs in Team USA’s win after letting loose an out-of-the-park, three-run homer in the third inning.
Long Beach resident Raffaele Velazquez hit a home run in the same frame to pull USA ahead 4-0.
Chinese Taipei had a two-run spurt in the fourth inning, but fell silent for the remainder of the game.
Also in the fourth, Velazquez hit an RBI-double that drove in Caranto who earlier reached base on a single. USA added two more runs in that inning to seal an early fate for Chinese Taipei.
The game ended in six innings, the last two of which Caranto was on the mound for. He allowed two hits.
Caranto was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament and was also selected for the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup All-World Team after going 9-for-23 overall with 16 RBIs, the most on Team USA.
In the game against Chinese Taipei, he was 2-for-3.
Greg Pierantoni of Valencia was the starting pitcher against Germany in pool play and threw for two innings in his win.