2 Utah boys make USA U-12 baseball team
Kayler Yates and Andrew Pintar were both born in March 2001, Kayler three days before Andrew. They've been baseball teammates at times, but more often than not have played against each other.
Even when Kayler, from St. George, was playing for a club in Southern California, and Andrew, from Spanish Fork, was playing for a club in Phoenix, their teams would meet often in tournaments.
Kayler is 5-foot-3 and 100 pounds while Andrew is 5-foot-2 and 95 pounds. Both are right-handed pitchers, both play the infield when they're not on the mound, and both bat near the top of the order.
And both will represent the United States at the Under-12 International Baseball Federation World Cup in Taiwan, which starts July 18.
"I think it's a big honor to play for the USA," Andrew said. "It's an honor to wear that jersey and hat, to wear the red, white and blue."
There were 18 boys selected for this first ever under-12 national team, and while there are 11 combined from California and Florida, the only other state with multiple representatives is Utah, thanks to Kayler and Andrew. Salem's Kade Hancock was chosen as an alternate.
Kayler and Andrew are often compared to each other because of their size, style of play on the field and mature demeanor off the field. They are good friends, and they and their families are excited for the chance to represent their country.
"Our first thought when we found out this was happening was it would be a huge honor," said Andrew's mom, Jaime. "My kid is going to play for the USA. Andrew gets to wear a USA jersey."
Jaime also said that as parents, she and her husband Nic may be more excited than their son.
"We talked to Andrew about what it means to play for his country," Jaime said. "But I don't know if at 12 years old he really understands the magnitude."
Todd Yates confirmed that learning his son had made the team was an unforgettable moment.
"My wife was sobbing when she called me at work to tell me Kayler had made the team," Todd said. "This is such a great and humbling experience for us."
Todd said that like Andrew, his son is most eager about stepping on the field to represent his country.
"He's excited to wear USA on his jersey," Todd said. "He can't wait to get that uniform."
Todd, who has never been outside the country nor owned a passport, will be in Taiwan to watch the two boys.
Nic Pintar and both of Andrew's grandfathers will be there as well.
"The minute we found out," Jaime said. "My husband said 'Andrew's not going alone.' "