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2019: U-12 Baseball World Cup - Chen stars in Chinese Taipei triumph in new home for U-12 baseball

2019: U-12 Baseball World Cup - Chen stars in Chinese Taipei triumph in new home for U-12 baseball
26/12/2019
Chinese Taipei won the 2019 edition of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in front of a sell-out crowd in the brand new Tainan Asia-Pacific International Stadium.

Starting pitcher Chen Kai Sheng was Chinese Taipei’s hero both with bat and ball, allowing only three hits without any walks while scoring on a sacrifice fly and hitting a solo home run as the home team beat Japan 4-0 in the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup final in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,000 at the purpose-built, brand new Tainan Asia-Pacific International Baseball Stadium in August.


2019 Series: Year in Review
U-12 Baseball World Cup - Chen stars in Chinese Taipei triumph in new home for U-12 baseball
Softball Olympic Qualifiers - Mexico in Olympics for first time as softball field complete
Baseball Olympic Qualifiers - Israel's historic first time in Olympic baseball tournament
Development - Africa Dev Programme & Women’s Baseball lead impressive year of growth
Premier12 - The “biggest int’l baseball event in recent history”
WBSC - Huge year sets up foundation for bright future
Baseball5 - Continues to spread like "wildfire"
President Fraccari: “2019 - The biggest year in int’l baseball, softball history”
Men’s Softball World Championship - Argentina clinch historic title as Europe hosts for first time
Chinese Taipei wins U-12, U-18 Baseball World Cups, Asian Championship, Fed of the Year


In the top of the third, 12-year-old Chen singled, reached third on a wild pitch and a ground-out before scoring on a sacrifice fly to center by shortstop Yeh Hung Jen. In the top of the sixth Chen homered on the first pitch from reliever Kyonosuke Hayashi.

“I’m always looking for good pitches. I saw one, I hit it,” said Chen, who pitched for five innings. It was the second title** for Chinese Taipei at this age group after winning the inaugural edition in 2011. “It is the very first championship I win since I started playing baseball two years ago,” Chen said.

Chen was named the MVP of the U-12 Baseball World Cup and not surprisingly was part of the All World Team together with teammates Huang Tien-Szu (third base) and Chiang Tsung Chun (left fielder).

Tsai Ing-wen, the highest elected official of the island, shared her congratulations to the winners via her Twitter account.

The WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup will also be remembered for an unprecedented move by the Chinese Taipei squad just minutes before the start of the final. With the crowd preparing for the showpiece final the Chinese Taipei players gathered around home plate and performed a choreographed dance routine that went viral across Taiwan and social media.

New Zealand is synonymous with “laying down the challenge” to its opponents with a pre-game haka routine, and while Chinese Taipei’s routine was very much likened to it, it was however more in concept rather than in ferocity.

Chinese Taipei U-12 manager Kuo-Chiang Lee said he made his players practice and perform the routine to build team chemistry and spirit.

The final was broadcast live via Videoland, Taiwan’s biggest sports broadcaster, for more than 20 million fellow citizens to witness, so the Chinese Taipei players had to get it (the game rather than the dance) right, and they did, carrying out a superbly executed 4-0 shut out of rivals Japan.

Earlier, Cuba earned a bronze medal defeating Korea in the third-place game, which saw starting pitcher Alejandro Prieto hit a record 125km per hour with his fastball.

The WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup 2019 was also ground-breaking for having Fiji play for the first time ever in a baseball World Cup. Despite losing all eight games, the experience proved invaluable.

“People in Fiji don’t realize how huge baseball is in the world,” Fiji manager Inoke Niubalavu said. “Competing on the world stage will make these kids more aware. I hope this has a good impact on the development of baseball.”

“We are trying to introduce baseball in schools,” Niubalavu said regarding the challenge of developing the game in a 300-island archipelago. “We started with eight, now we are working with another eight. It’s a long process, but we are growing. Hopefully, one of the kids that are participating in the U-12 World Cup will grow as much as to become a professional player. That would make a difference.”

The biennial WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup is a unique competition. No other major team sport has an established competition for this age category at the world stage.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari commented after the 2019 edition: "This is a very strong youth category, as most of the world's 30 million baseball players are 12 years old or younger."

The Chinese Taipei Baseball Association and the city of Tainan also believe the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup is a major event. The city of Tainan built the new US$ 130 million Tainan Asia-Pacific International Baseball Stadium and complex to host five editions of the event: 2019, 2021, 2023, 2025, 2027.

** There have been five editions of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup with USA winning three titles and Chinese Taipei two.