Two Utah boys helped Team USA win the gold medal at the Under-12 International Baseball Federation World Cup in Taiwan last week.
Spanish Fork’s Andrew Pintar and St. George’s Kayler Yates helped the U.S. team to an 8-1 record in the tournament, capped by an 8-1 victory over host nation Taiwan on Sunday.
The U.S. players dog-piled in the infield when the final out was recorded.
"That was an awesome feeling that I had right there," Pintar said.
It was the first-ever Under-12 team for U.S. Baseball, and both boys played critical roles in helping to win gold.
Although he played sparingly, Yates was 5 for 6 at the plate with a double, four runs, four RBIs and two walks. He also pitched 22⁄3 innings, striking out four batters and allowing just one unearned run. Pintar started in the outfield in seven of the nine games and was the starting pitcher in the quarterfinals against Brazil. He allowed two hits and struck out three batters over five shutout innings to earn the win and help the team advance to the quarterfinals against Japan.
"You can only throw 85 pitches in a game, and I hit the limit in the fifth inning," Pintar said. "I was so mad. I wanted to finish the game."
At the plate, Pintar finished the tournament 6 for 12 with two doubles, four runs and four RBIs.
The final against Taiwan was played in front of a crowd of about 10,000 at Tianmu Stadium, and Pintar said there were only 40 U.S. fans in attendance.
"I saw how big the crowd was," Pintar said. "But I just got over it and didn’t pay attention to it."
Had he ever played in front of such a crowd before? "No, not even close to that big," Pintar said. Jaime Pintar, Andrew’s mother, was watching the game online from home and couldn’t believe how many fans were in attendance.
"I asked him, ‘How did you do that?’ " she said.
Aside from baseball, Yates and Pintar got to tour part of the country, including a visit to Taipei 101, the second-tallest building in the world. Pintar said that playing for Team USA afforded the boys a bit of celebrity in Taiwan. A horde of local media outlets followed the team to the zoo, and fans waited outside the team hotel for autographs from the Americans, including one boy who Pintar said waited four hours for the team to sign his baseball.
"It was new to me, but it was pretty cool," Pintar said. "I signed a lot of stuff."
One thing that none of the players wanted to give away was their Team USA gear.
"All the other teams came by to trade hats and stuff, but we didn’t want to," Pintar said. "We never want to forget this."
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