Oscar’s no grouch
Garza rips walk-off home run
as Mexico stays alive in eight-inning thriller
Mexico’s Ismael Garcia
and Saudi Arabia’s Joel Reimer were both so good on the hill, they
out-dueled each other. When Oscar Garza finally got his shot, he
made sure the same thing wouldn’t happen to him.
Garcia and Reimer
matched zeroes on Volunteer Stadium’s scoreboard for six innings,
and Little League rules state that after the full six, both
starters have to come out. So after firing two scoreless innings
of his own in relief, Garza led off the bottom of the eighth with
a walk-off home run that just snuck over the right-field fence to
give Guadalupe, Mexico the 1-0 victory and keep them alive in Pool
D in front of 4,800 fans.
“It felt great,” Garza
said through translator Micah Hughes. “There was a lot of emotion
for having hit that home run.”
For the Transatlantic
Champions from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (1-1), it was their second
straight extra-inning game in South Williamsport, but this one
didn’t have as happy an ending (the first was a 4-1 win over
Saipan). Eleven-year-old Alex Robinett relieved Reimer in the
seventh, and after scorching the side in order with two strikeouts
in his first inning of work, Garza slapped Robinett’s second
offering of the inning to the opposite field and was mobbed by his
teammates at home plate.
“It was a game of life
or death,” said Mexico manager Gerardo Leal through Hughes, whose
team is now 1-1 after it dropped its opener to Curacao, 3-2.
“Because of the home run, we’re still alive. Thank God we’re still
Since he pitched two
innings and earned the win tonight, Garza – Mexico’s No. 3 pitcher
– will not be allowed to pitch tomorrow in another do-or-die game
against Pacific. Instead, Victor Gonzalez will go against Saipan.
“You have to go with
what you have now,” Leal said, “because if you don’t win now, you
don’t go on.”
Saudi Arabia’s still
going on because in its first game, the Arabian-American All-Stars
escaped severe trouble in the bottom of the sixth before staging
the winning rally in the top of the seventh. Sunday night,
however, they were on the other side of the coin, as they failed
to bring the go-ahead run home from third in the seventh, only to
falter in the eighth.
seventh] was our opportunity,” said Saudi manager Tommy Bumstead.
“You tip your hat to Mexico. [Garza] did a great job of getting
out of the jam.”
There weren’t many
jams through six full innings, as each team only managed to get
one runner to third base.
“The way both teams
were playing, I thought we could be here at midnight tonight
playing baseball,” Bumstead said. “It was a heck of a game by both
Garcia (12 strikeouts,
one walk) was overpowering, firing 87 pitches (56 for strikes) in
his six innings of work. After allowing his only hit – Charles
Fitzmaurice’s single to right to lead off the third – he retired
the next 12 batters he faced, including seven strikeouts.
“I have so much
confidence in my teammates. I know they have good bats and good
pitching other than myself,” Garcia said through Hughes. “The
important thing is that we won.
“It was a little
nerve-racking the fact that I had to concentrate on not making any
mistakes at all,” he added.
Reimer was almost as
sharp, scattering three singles and two walks while ringing up
eight. The right-hander only retired the side in order once, but
continually frustrated the Mexicans with a good fastball and a
back-breaking curve, and needed 85 pitches (60 strikes) to get
through six scoreless.
“He’s one of our
returnees … That’s why we gave him the ball today,” Bumstead said.
“He did a jam-up job of pitching the ball today for us.”
Jammed-up is the only
way you could now describe Pool D, easily the pool with the most
parity so far with two extra-inning affairs and a one-run nail
biter. Both Mexico (vs. Pacific, 1 p.m., Lamade Stadium) and Saudi
Arabia (vs. Caribbean, 5 p.m., Lamade Stadium) finish up pool play
tomorrow, and the same could be said of both 1-1 squads.
“We still have another
game tomorrow,” Bumstead said. “We go out and win it, we’re in the
While that may be
true, so far, Pool D has been the show.
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