Panama tops Canada 12-2 in
by David Graham-Caso
The Latin America Champions from the
Curundu Little League in Panama City, Panama had a rough road to
Williamsport. The team was 1-3 in their regional pool play,
which allowed them into the semi-finals of the tournament as the
fourth seed. They then narrowly bested Colombia in the semifinal
and the Panama “A” squad in the final to win a berth in the 58th
Little League World Series.
In Friday’s Pool C opener against
the Canadian champions, the Curundu team showed exactly how
little their tumultuous journey up to this point has affected
them. Panama upended the East Nepean Little League from
Ottawa, Ontario 12-2 in front of 7,350 fans at Lamade Stadium.
“This is the World Series, this is
the best competition in the world,” Panama manager Carlos
Mosquera said through a translator. “The Latin America region is
very tough. We had to beat the team that was supposed to be here
(previously undefeated Colombia) in the semifinals to get here.
We didn’t hit in the Latin America tournament, but we are
Panama, which prides itself on
flawless defense (the team did not make a defensive error
throughout the entire Latin America Regional tournament) dug
itself a hole before ever coming to the plate.
The Canadians capitalized on
Panamanian nerves in the top of the first inning. East Nepean
lead off hitter Jesse O’Byrne tattooed an Alexis Martinez
offering to the opposite field which skipped by Panama right
fielder Bayron Haynes. O’Byrne advanced to third on the Haynes
error and then scored on a passed ball. The Latin American
battery did not calm down much after the passed ball. Later in
the inning, Matthew DeLuca crossed home on a wild pitch giving
Canada the early 2-0 advantage.
“I was a little nervous,” admitted
Martinez. “But I adjusted and I controlled the game.”
“Controlled the game” is an
understatement. After the first inning jitters got worked out,
Martinez settled into a groove and never came out of it. The
only batter to reach base after the first inning was Alexandra
Bellini, who walked on a full count with two outs in the fourth.
Martinez tossed a complete game, allowing only the lone hit and
walking just one in his winning effort.
Canadian hurler Alex Bladock also
ran into early trouble. The pitcher barely escaped the bottom of
the first inning unscathed after allowing consecutive hits to
the first two batters he faced. In the Panama half of the second
inning, Martinez significantly helped out his own cause by
hammering a three-run blast well over the centerfield fence.
After Martinez’s homer, the wheels came off the wagon for East
Nepean. Three errors allowed Eduardo Thomas to circle the bases
and then Sergio Rivera belted the second Panama home run of the
inning. Rivera’s shot was a two-run round tripper which gave his
squad a 6-2 lead.
Canada manager Mike Crepin left his
starter in for the duration of the game.
“(Alex) has been our best pitcher,” Crepin said. “I asked him if he wanted to stay in for us, and he
said that he did. He has earned the right to stay in.”
Panama tacked on four more runs in
its half of the fourth. Brian Rodriguez knocked in two runs with
a pinch hit double and the next batter, Mario Gonzalez plated
both Rodriguez and himself with a frozen rope over the
Panama next faces Kunto, Poland Sunday afternoon at Volunteer Stadium. Canada
will attempt to rebound Monday against Asia at Lamade Stadium.
for box scores.