Transatlantic All-Stars edge Saipan in seven innings as Pool D
One minute, Mark Lumpa appeared doomed. The Saudi Arabian reliever
was standing on the Volunteer Stadium mound, the bases around him
full of Saipan runners, with the winning run on third and one out
in the bottom of the sixth inning. What was he thinking?
“Throw strikes,” Lumpa said. “Cause I knew if I threw balls, the
game was over.”
About five minutes later, he was standing on second base, pumping
his fists in celebration after delivering the go-ahead hit for his
Arabian-American All-Stars from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Lumpa used a huge strikeout and induced an inning-ending ground
ball to get out of trouble in the sixth, then whacked a huge
two-run double to give the Transatlantic squad a 4-1 win over the
Pacific team in seven suspenseful innings in front of a crowd of
In a tournament that has lacked much late-inning excitement so
far, Saudi Arabia and Saipan confirmed that the best, most
exciting baseball in South Williamsport is being played in Pool D.
Just hours after Curacao edged Mexico in a thrilling 3-2 affair,
their poolmates were the first to need extra innings to decide
The Arabian-American All-Stars have been to South Williamsport 10
of the past 11 years, but for a team whose closest game in
regionals was a five-run win (they went 8-0 and outscored their
opponents 113-4, they adjusted amazingly well.
“The coaches really helped us,” Lumpa said. “They knew what
Williamsport was like.”
The game had been deadlocked at one since the second inning, but
Saipan seemed primed to end it in the sixth when they loaded the
bases with one out on a hit batsman, a double by Ike Alden and an
intentional walk. But Lumpa struck out David Camacho, then got
Phillip Manolo to ground to second.
“We were hoping the boys were just going to make simple contact,”
said Saipan coach Anthony Benavente. “It looked like some of them
were too aggressive to try and hit a solid drive.”
Saudi Arabia hit plenty of those in the top of the seventh. Matt
Timoney and Joel Reimer both singled, then made it second and
third with one out after a wild pitch.
“I was excited, cause I had just made the last out,” Timoney said.
“And I was like, ‘Ugh.’”
Lumpa, a left-handed hitter, then ripped a shot to the gap in
left-center to score both runners. Third baseman Craig Denker then
provided some insurance by scoring Lumpa with a double down the
“We were really happy,” Reimer said. “We knew that we had a good
upper hand on it then.”
The three-run lead was plenty for Lumpa in the bottom of the
seventh. He allowed a leadoff single, but after a strikeout, the
game ended on a unique double play. The Saudis tried to turn a
traditional two, but after an overthrow past first, they settled
for the twin killing by tagging out the runner who had broke for
“We just got to stop trying to kill the ball and be smart,”
Benavente said. “Our defense was OK, but our bats were not there.”
of that defense made the game even more exciting – and helped
frustrate the Transatlantic. Saudi Arabia had a pair of chances to
break a 1-1 tie in the top of the third, but a deep fly to right
couldn’t score a runner from third with one out, and Saipan
shortstop Ofero Taitano saved two runs on a nice ranging play up
the middle with two outs.
Transatlantic had at least two men on base in the second, third,
fourth and fifth, but couldn’t plate more than one run. Taitano
flashed his glove again in the fifth, going back on a shallow fly
ball to left-center to keep Pacific out of trouble.
“I told our kids around the fourth or fifth inning that we’ve had
our opportunities and had our opportunities. Let’s capitalize on
some now,” said Saudi manager Tommy Bumstead. “I was really
pleased with their poise throughout the ballgame.”
Lumpa, especially, was poised when he was forced into a tough spot
relieving Saudi starter Josh Amado with two men on in the third.
But Lumpa eased the Arabian-Americans out of a jam by inducing a
pair of grounders to second.
On the other side, Donovan George pitched five solid innings for
Saipan before he was relieved by Antonio Rogolifoi, Jr.
The Pacific squad had jumped ahead in the bottom of the first when
Phillip Manolo and Taitano both singled and Manolo scored on an
error caused by pitcher Donovan George’s shot to first base. But
Transatlantic quickly answered in the top of the second when Craig
Denker singled, advanced to second on a passed ball, then scored
on Kyle Al-Sughaiyer’s base hit.
An impressive extra-inning win is a start, but this Saudi team
wants to do a little more to distinguish itself from its
predecessors, who have all come up short of the ultimate prize.
“We got everything better than all the past teams, we think,”
Reimer said. But perhaps the most important thing? “We work as a
for box scores