Curacao returns to Williamsport on a mission
The Pariba Little League All-Stars from Curacao are back in town for the second straight year, and their opponents in International Group D might just be mimicking Jerry Seinfeld by saying, “Hello Neuman.”
Curacao starting pitcher Dennis Neuman pitched a complete-game one hitter, as Curacao defeated Mexico in Game Seven of the Series, 10-1.
Neuman baffled Mexico’s hitters, striking out 14 and allowing just two balls hit out of the infield. The lone run he surrendered came on a wild pitch in the first frame.
“I felt normal,” Neuman said through interpreter and assistant coach Vergilly Winklar. “My fastball was working well. I was always thinking ‘K’s, K’s, K’s, strikeouts.”
Tied 1-1 in the fifth inning, Curacao broke the game wide open, erupting for six runs on five hits. The Caribbean champs sent ten hitters to the plate.
Neuman singled home Timothy Juliana for the inning’s first run and eventual game-winner. Nigel De Haseth, Steve Van Delden, and Neuman all came around to score on the play after a fielding and throwing error by Mexico catcher Rodolfo Garcia.
Reinius Roosberg scored on a wild pitch four batters later, and Dany Walle doubled home Richently Kenepa to close out the scoring in the inning.
Four of the six runs were unearned.
“We played well for the first four innings,” said Mexico head coach Jesus Contreras Leija through interpreter Micah Hughes. “But our confidence dropped after the big inning.”
Curacao tacked on three more in the sixth with solo home runs from Delden and Roosberg, and an RBI single by Kenepa. Delden’s shot went to the opposite field, barely hooking around the rightfield foul pole.
“I was happy,” said Roosberg of his home run. “As soon as I hit it I knew it was a home run.”
Mexico took an early 1-0 lead in the first. Jose Angel Diaz reached second on a fielding and throwing error by Curacao second baseman De Haseth. Diaz advanced to third on a wild pitch, and eventually scored on another ball in the dirt.
Curacao bounced right back with a run in the second, tying the score at 1-1. Timothy Juliana brought home Rudney Balentien with an RBI groundout to Mexico shortstop Carlos Saldivar.
“Last year we had a defensive team and this year we have a team with big bats,” head coach Mark Van Zanten said through his assistant. “We knew the offense should be good.”
Curacao next faces Russia, Monday at Volunteer Stadium.
“I am happy to be here (again),” Van Zanten said. “Being here is an accomplishment on its own. If we can do better this year, it is like a cherry on top of the ice cream.”
Mexico next plays Russia as well, an 8:00 p.m. match-up Sunday at Volunteer Stadium. Leija is well aware of the tough competition in Williamsport.
“I expected a difficult game, a tough game,” he said. “They are a very good team.”