September 9, 2019
Chinese Taipei was little less than perfect and defeated the USA, 2-1, in the final to become the new U-18 Baseball World Champion. Three pitchers, starter Yu Chien, Lin Yu Min and Chen Po Yu, limited the powerful line up of the four-time defending World Champions to five hits, three in the bottom of the ninth. Third baseman Wang Shun Ho provided the only extra-base hit of the game, a triple, and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth. Left fielder Lo Wie Chieh denied extra-base hits to Colby Halter in the second and Robert Hassell in the third. He then batted in what would prove to be the winning run in the top of the eighth.
The bottom of the ninth was not for the weak-hearted. Hassell led off with a base hit, his second of the night, against reliever Chen Po Yu. Chen got a couple of fly outs. Colby Halter followed with a hard liner up the middle. Shortstop Cheng Tsung Che got to the ball, but Lin Tzu Hao was late to the second base bag and Cheng had no play. Drew Romo hit a hard liner just off the glove of Lin. The ball rolled to the outfield and Hassell went for the run and scored. Nolan Mc Lean stepped to the plate with runners at second and first. His hard-hit ball landed in the glove of right fielder Lin Tzu Wei for the third out of the night.
“I never considered going to the bullpen,” said Chinese Taipei manager Chou Tsung Chih through an interpreter “I fully trusted the skills of Chen Po Yu.”
Chou Tsung Chih expressed pride about his team:”We have been together for two months and the players have kept improving. I’ve seen this team play better and better”.
Lo Wie Chieh made two key plays in the outfield: “This is a World Cup” commented Lo through an interpreter “I thought I had a chance on those balls and I took it. You need also to be lucky, to make those plays.”
Lo Wie Chieh just signed a professional contract and will join the Uni Lions of the Chinese Professional Baseball League right after the tournament. He also described his RBI-single that proved to be the game-winner: “The USA pitcher are confident about their fastball and I was looking for a fastball. We have been playing against each other many times, we know each other.”
Yu Chien earned the win for Chinese Taipei going 6.2 innings, a total of 96 pitches. He had pitched a total of 3.1 innings in the tournament, earning two saves.
“It was my first time as a starter and it was fun, I really enjoyed it, explained Yu Chien through an interpreter. “When the manager told me I was going to start, all I thought was that I wanted to win this game.”
Yu Chien will go to College: “I will spend for sure one year in College. I would then look for opportunities overseas, either in Japan or the USA.”
The USA manager Jack Leggett had a hug and a kind word for each player and each member of his delegation. He then commented: “We played hard, but we came just one run short. Chinese Taipei played very well. I believe this game was a perfect fitting for a World Championship game.”
The two plays by Lo Wie Chieh in left field made a difference: “Well, we hit the ball well. They made the great plays and we lacked one more key hit. We played a great ninth inning, I think we showed what kind of character we have. USA Baseball will be there again, in the hunt for the gold.
The final of the U-18 Baseball World Cup was followed by the opening ceremony. WBSC announced the All World Team and the Individual Awards.
“This past week has been a celebration of the world’s finest U-18 baseball players.”
WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari congratulated the participants to the U-18 Baseball World Cup in a brief speech during the closing ceremony.
“We have seen high-level games, that shows how baseball is growing and globalizing.”
Fraccari then addressed the players themselves: “You are the stars of the future.”
The USA was the team most represented in the All-World Team, with four players. Japan followed with two. Spain, Canada, Korea, Chinese Taipei and The Netherlands all had one player.
Yu Chien, the starting pitcher and the winner of the final, was named the tournament MVP.
The closing ceremony of the U-18 Baseball World Cup was attended by the representatives of Sarasota (Florida, USA), that will host the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2021.
All World Team:
Pitcher Yasunobu Okugawa Japan
Catcher Juan Gonzalez Spain
1B Yuya Nirasawa Japan
2B JJichan Kim Korea
3B Shun-Ho Wang Chinese Taipei
S.S. Austin Gomm Canada
L.F. Darryl Collins Netherlands
C.F, Pete Crow-Armstrong U.S.A.
R.F. Robert Hassell U.S.A.
R.P. Ajejandoro Bosario U.S.A.
M.V.P. Chen Yu Chinese Taipei
LEADING HITTER Kim Jichan (Korea)-batting average .531
PITCHER WITH THE BEST EARNED RUN AVERAGE Kyle Harrison (USA)- 0 runs allowed in 9.1 innings pitched
PITCHER WITH THE BEST WIN/LOSS AVERAGE Rosario Alejandro (USA) 3 wins-0 losses
MOST RUNS BATTED IN Robert Hassell (USA)-14
MOST HOME RUNS Junya Nishi (Japan)-2
MOST RUNS SCORED Robert Hassell (USA)-13
OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE PLAYER Kim Jichan (Korea)