Saudis going home victors
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, picked up the “victory of our lives” tonight over Valencia, Venezuela, according to head coach Robert Lumpa.
The Arabian American Little Leaguers defeated the Los Leones Little League All-Stars, 6-5, in front of 1,325 fans at Volunteer Stadium.
Saudi Arabia improved to 2-1 in pool play, while Venezuela fell to 2-1. The Pacific champs out of Guam, which also holds a 2-1 record in Pool C, will advance along with Latin America after two separate tie-breakers were implemented.
Latin America nabbed the top seed since it had the fewest number of runs allowed per defensive innings played. According to Little League’s tie-breaker rules, run differential decides the top seed in a pool, then head-to-head competition determines the second seed and third seed. Since Guam beat Dhahran 9-6 in their game Sunday, it advances to the International semifinals.
“We beat what (Little League) thinks is the best team in our pool,” said Saudi Arabia shortstop Craig Lumpa, expressing his disappointment. “We have nine 12-year-olds that played the
biggest games of their lives. For seven months, we played our hardest.”
The Arabian American Little Leaguers took the lead in the fifth and never looked back. Nicholas Gosse’s bases-loaded walk brought home Michael Elhajj for the go-ahead run. Lumpa then blooped a single to right, scoring Blake Dieterich and Colin Gallacher.
Gosse and Lumpa each finished the night with three RBI.
In the home half of the fifth, Alfredo Cassiani’s RBI double and Eduardo Mendez’s RBI infield single pulled Venezuela within one, but Dieterich struck out Hector Garcia and induced Mayckel Rodriguez to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
Dieterich tossed a complete game, giving up five runs on 11 hits. The left-hander struck out 12 and did not issue any walks.
“I couldn’t have done it without the team,” he said. “They kept me up when I was down. We are clearly the best team in our pool.”
Saudi Arabia and Venezuela each scored a pair of runs in the second inning.
In Dhahran’s half of the inning, Michael Elhajj scored on a fielder’s choice and Colin Gallacher came around on Lumpa’s single to left-center, giving the Transatlantic champs a brief 2-0 lead.
Valencia bounced right back when Leopoldo Sanchez singled home Luis Briceno. Rodriguez, who was heading to third on the play, also scored after a wild throw went passed the third baseman.
Latin America jumped out to a one-run lead in the bottom of the third on Gerson Montilla’s solo home run to dead centerfield. The ball bounced off the top of the wall, just out of the reach of the centerfielder, and over.
Saudi Arabia answered with a run of its own in the top of the fourth when Gosse singled in Gallacher.
Venezuela will take on Curacao in Thursday afternoon’s International semifinal, while Saudi Arabia heads home with an impressive 2-1 pool record - nothing to hang their heads about.
“I’ve got a whole team that fought hard all game,” Robert Lumpa said. “They play as a team.”