Panama uses canal to get through pool play
Perennial international favorite Japan fell to the hot bats of Club Activo Little League out of Panama.
Club Activo, only the fourth Panamanian team to ever make it to Williamsport, was led by sluggers Luis Quintero and Otto Castillo. Panama handed Japan their first loss of the tournament, beating them 6-1 at Volunteer Stadium Monday evening.
After Isaac Fornero started off the bottom of the first with a double to the wall, Quintero and Castillo hit back-to-back home runs. The homers gave Panama the early lead over Japan.
“We had to demoralize the Japanese,” said Panama manager Gabriel Ramos. “They were still up from their win yesterday.”
Castillo, who also pitched, knew what his team had to do to emerge with a victory.
“I pulled my team aside before the game and told them to get me a couple of runs,” he said. “I said that I would take care of the rest.”
Castillo did more than “take care of the rest.” He got the job done with his arm, striking out 11 in his complete-game victory. He also got the job done with his bat, going 3-for-3, including the first-inning shot.
“I guess I helped myself out a bit tonight,’ he said.
The win comes at a pivotal time for the Latin American team, who lost their opener to Curacao.
“This win raises our team’s combative spirit,” Ramos said. “It gives us confidence and lets us know that our goal is getting closer.”
Panama next faces Saudi Arabia Tuesday at 6 p.m., while Japan looks to bounce back in its game against Curacao at 3 p.m. Both games are to be played at Volunteer Stadium.
- David Graham-Caso