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Panama Wins First Junior Baseball World Series Title for Central America

TAYLOR, Mich. (Aug. 20, 2005) – Curundu Little League of Panama City, Panama, became the first team from Central America to win the Junior League Baseball World Series, which celebrated its 25th year at Heritage Park in Taylor.

Panama City shut out East Lake Little League of Tarpon Springs, Fla., 3-0, to become 2005 world champion of the 13- and 14-year-old division of Little League Baseball.

Curundu Little League scored one run in the second inning and two more in the sixth. The winners rode the arm of pitcher Jhony Rodriguez (2-0), who threw a five-hitter and struck out nine – including five of the first six batters he faced.

In the second inning, Rodriguez was hit by a pitch, teammate Anyelo Jaramillo reached on an infield single and Cesar Wong Jr. singled to left to load the bases. Mario Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Rodriguez with the only run Panama would need.


The Junior League Baseball World Series champions from Panama City celebrate their victory in Taylor, Mich.

In the sixth, Pablo Trejos and Edul Escobar were safe on back-to-back fielding errors and both scored on a double by Miguel Ruiz.

Florida pitcher Lincoln Dunham also threw a five-hitter, and Martin Franco had two hits for East Lake Little League. Franco recorded 11 of his team’s 18 putouts in the field.

Tarpon Springs had its chances in the game, but left the bases loaded in the fourth inning and stranded two runners in the fifth.

Panama City was the third team from Panama in four years to play in the title game. In 2002, Chirqui, Panama, lost the world championship game to Cartersville, Ga, 3-2. In 2003, Santiago, Panama, lost in the finals to LaMirada, Calif., 8-7.

Panama City was the first international team to win the Junior League Baseball world championship since 1999, when Arroyo, Puerto Rico, won the title.

A player from each of the teams in the 2005 Junior League Baseball World Series gathered for this photo.

This year, Panama City beat a team from Arroyo in the semifinals, 7-2. The win avenged Panama’s only loss of the week – a 4-0 series-opening defeat to the Puerto Rico region champions.

“This is a delightful feeling – one you want to keep with you,” Panama Manager Jose Murrillo said. “Winning the championship was a great thing. We really started working hard back home. People think it’s very easy, but actually you have to do a lot of work with the kids during the whole year and sometimes more. But we’re very happy.”

The loss was only the second for the East Lake all-stars. They went 18-0, and won the Florida state championship and the South Region title, then went 4-2 in Taylor. They were 3-1 in pool play and defeated Pearl City, Hawaii, in back-to-back games to make it to the World Series final. Kyle Westwood went 8-0 on the mound during all-star play for Florida.

“I think it took us a little while to get going,” manager Hector Manuel Franco said. “We had our opportunities. We just didn’t get the timely hits in the end. We left the bases loaded once. We left runners on second and third once. Either time, we get a hit, score a run, two runs, three runs and it’s a different ballgame.”

In International pool play, Panama defeated Saipan of the Northern Mariana Islands (Asia-Pacific champion), 8-2; Orleans, Ontario (Canada champion), 4-0; and Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands (EMEA champion), 12-2.

Also participating in the 2005 Junior League Baseball World Series were: Pearl City, Hawaii (West); Fort Worth, Texas (Southwest); Freehold Township, New Jersey (East); and Fort Wayne, Indiana (Central).