Game 27
Mexico 5
 vs. Latin America 2

Thursday, August 21, 2008
4:00PM ET

Hasta La Vista!
Mexico knocks Venezuela out of World Series with a 5-2 victory, moves on to International Final against Japan

By Dan Ryan

A 1-1 tie in the fourth inning was enough to convince Venezuela to walk Mexico’s Tomas Castillo to load the bases. Mexico’s Ruben Molina, the next batter, made sure that it would be a decision Venezuela would live to regret.

Molina hit a three-run triple in the fourth inning to give Mexico a 5-1 lead, which would prove to be enough as Venezuela would only muster one more run in the sixth to make the final score 5-2.

“(I was thinking) I am going to get a base hit,” Molina said through a translator. “I had no doubts, all the way.”

Thanks to Molina, Mexico advances to the International Championship game on Saturday against a tough Japanese squad. The game will be a grudge match as teams from Matamoras, Mexico and Kawaguchi City, Japan faced each other this deep in the tournament two years ago, a game that Japan won 3-0. Mexican manager Gustavo Gomez talked about the rematch.

“It’s a little bit different (this year) because they are a different team,” he said. “I am the manager now and back then I was the coach. We need to stay relaxed and focus.”

Neither Japan nor Mexico has lost a game in this year’s World Series. When asked about Japan’s hitters crowding the plate as a strategy, Gomez did not seem concerned.

“If they crowd the plate, we will throw inside and they will have to go away,” he said. “We just have to be in control of our pitches and hit the spots. There shouldn’t be a problem.”

Just before Molina’s three-run triple, Carlos Balboa had started the four-run outburst with an RBI double that snapped a 1-1 tie.

“I never thought we were going to lose,” he said. “We will never fold and never bring our gear down before it is over. It’s unfortunate that only nine players get to start because we are full of team players. Every single one of my kids is a hero to me.”

Venezuela had a chance to come back in the sixth with none out and runners on first and second, but Ramon Loaiza left first base too early on a fielder’s choice grounder. This caused the runner at third to go back to second and the runner at second to go back to first.

This was not the first time that a runner leaving the base early cost Venezuela. They had essentially beaten Japan on Tuesday with a sacrifice fly that gave Jesus Tremont enough time to make it home and win the game. But as was the case today, the runner left the bag early, putting him back on second and negating the run. Japan won in seven innings by a score of 5-4.

Venezuela’s manager Freddy Moran was disappointed that this happened to his team twice.

“I talked to them at length about (leaving the plate early) after the first game,” Moran said. “The player said he thought he left at the proper time, so there is nothing we can do.”

Moran also said that he thinks Mexico is the best team left in the tournament. Gustavo Gomez was happy to hear this.

“It’s very flattering,” Gomez said. “Venezuela is a solid team. We can’t get over confident though; we have a very strong team coming up.”

2008, Little League Baseball Incorporated
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