JLBB: Curacao Wins 2008 Junior League Baseball World Series in Taylor
Alexander Rodriguez stroked a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to give Willemstad, Curacao, a 5-2 victory over Hilo, Hawaii, in the championship game of the Junior League World Series in Taylor, Michigan.
Curacao, the Latin America champion, became the first team from the Netherlands Antilles and the first team from the Caribbean Region to win the world championship for 13- and 14-year-olds.
The Pabao Little League of Willemstad was 6-0 during its first appearance in the week-long tournament, which welcomes regional and national champions from all over the world.
Rodriguez’s blow over the center field fence scored Darren Seferina and Sherman LaCrus and broke a 2-2 tie. It was his third home run of the series and the second homer of the game for the all-stars from Willemstad.
In the second inning, LaCrus smashed a home run to left field with Shurensley Daantji on base to give Curacao a 2-1 lead over Hawaii. It was LaCrus’ fifth home run and gave him 13 runs batted in and a slugging percentage of 1.600. All three totals led the 2008 World Series.
Rodriguez was the winning pitcher for the second time in the Series. He gave up two runs and four hits, walking two and striking out five in 5 2/3 innings. Ezequiel Garcia pitched one-hit ball the rest of the way.
Curacao players were used to playing in the spotlight. Five of Caribbean players were part of the 2005 Curacao team that won the Caribbean championship and finished second to Ewa Beach, Hawaii, in the 2005 Little League Baseball World Series for 12-year-olds in Williamsport, Pa. A total of nine players played in the 2006 Little League Baseball World Series.
Johannes Gregorius, Curacao’s manager, said the experience in the Little League World Series helped, but the fact that the players were well-prepared for the Junior League series was more important.
“For me, this was a great thing and it was a great thing for the players,” Gregorius said. “It was very exciting.”
Gregorius had to rely on his coaches, Norwin Moesqu and Rodny Carolina, to run the team in the International championship victory over the national champions of Mexico from Boca Del Rio, Veracruz on Friday and again in the World Series finale. Gregorius was suspended by the Little League Baseball and Softball Tournament Committee, based in Williamsport, for using an ineligible pitcher in Curacao’s victory over the Philippines earlier in the tournament.
Gregorius said the suspension did not diminish from the team’s accomplishment.
“I told my players I did something wrong,” he said. “If they punish me for it, do it (win the World Series) for me and do it for yourselves. Our coaches did a good job, too.”
Hawaiian players were disappointed after the loss. It was the fifth straight time a team from Hawaii played in the World Series in Taylor. Last year, Pearl City Little League won the world championship.