Game 23
3 vs. Asia Pacific

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
4:00PM ET

Semi Truck
Curacao (2-1) moves on to semifinals after 3-0 win over Guam (1-2) in do-or-die game

By Mark Rogoff
Special Correspondent

Curacao has made a habit of advancing out of pool play at the Little League Baseball World Series, making plenty of splashes along the way.

In the last seven years beginning in 2001, just once has a team from Curacao not moved on to the semi-final round. That year was 2006, when a team from Pabao Little League went 1-2 in a group that consisted of perennial powerhouses Japan and Mexico.

In fact, in six of the last seven years, Curacao has advanced to the International final.

Now, in 2008, the Pabao All-Stars are one step closer to reaching another International championship after a 3-0 win over Guam in a do-or-die game at Volunteer Stadium to decide second place in Pool C. A team from Matamoros, Mexico had already clinched the top spot with a 3-0 record.

Curacao moves on to play Japan in Wednesday’s international semifinal.

“Curacao expects us to be in the finals, so there was some pressure,” manager Vernon Isabella said through an interpreter. “Everyone is following all the games on TV.”

Curacao knocked on the door all game long, putting runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings. But it wasn’t until the fourth that the Caribbean champs were able to capitalize, and they did so with the old first-and-third double steal.

With two outs and Dennis Gustina on first base and Entwin Reigina on third, Gustina took off for second on a Nicholas Cruz offering to Suenley Paulina. Catcher Brian Bunag’s throw went to second baseman Mark Blas. Once Blas committed to chasing Gustina, Reigina broke for home and slid in safely despite a late throw home from Blas.

“It’s very frustrating,” Isabella said of his team’s lack of timely hitting. “I was asking the guys, ‘What’s happening here?’”

Curacao finally benefitted from a pair of timely hits in the fifth, getting an RBI triple from Junters Dosset and a run-scoring single from Tivon Faneyte for a pair of insurance runs.

Faneyte was also the one keeping Guam off the board. He tossed five no-hit innings, while striking out nine and walking one. Faneyte came on in relief of Claycandy Hariquez, who had to work out of trouble in the first after allowing a hit and a walk.

Despite what appeared to be effectiveness on the mound, Faneyte was not thrilled with his performance.

“That was not my best game, but not my worst game,” he said. “Despite no hits, I did not have 100-percent control over my ball.”

Hariquez was also Curacao’s starting pitcher against Italy on Monday, but was able to come back without any day’s rest because he threw just 19 pitches in 1.2 innings of work. If he had thrown 20 pitches, Hariquez would have had to observe one day of rest.

Curacao and Japan have a long history in the single-elimination rounds. The two teams have met in the International Championship on five occasions from 2001-07. Japan has won four of those games. The two clubs also met in the semi-final round in 2004, when Curacao was victorious to advance to the international final.

2008, Little League Baseball Incorporated
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