Game 7
Caribbean 5 vs. Latin America  4

Saturday, August 20, 2005
4:00PM ET
Lamade Stadium

 
Curacao begins title defense with extra-inning win
Caribbean champs defeat Venezuela with sacrifice fly in eighth


By Mark Rogoff

A game-winning sacrifice fly isn’t all that dramatic. And that didn’t bother Curacao manager Vernon Isabella one bit.

“To win on a sacrifice fly, I’m very glad with it,” he said through interpreter Alecto Nicolaas. “A win is a win.”

Indeed it is, and you have to take a win any way you can at the Little League Baseball World Series. With balls flying off bats like popcorn being popped in a popcorn machine so far in this tournament, runs are not that hard to come by. So you take a lead – and if you’re lucky, a win – by any means necessary.

So Curacao won this one quietly despite failing to hold a 4-0 lead, using Sorick Liberia’s sacrifice fly off Othecber Orozco with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning to down Venezuela 5-4 in extra innings.

Liberia, who came on to pitch in the seventh, tossed two shutout innings to earn the win as well. He retired six of he seven batters he faced, the lone runner reaching on his own fielding error in the seventh.

Liberia also hit a solo homer to ignite a three-run second inning.

“With experience from last year and dedication to training, I raised my level of play,” he said through Nicolaas. “I thought (the sacrifice fly) was a home run, but I upper cut it too much.”

Liberia’s game-winning fly out came three innings after Venezuela’s Richard Alvarez Jr. had tied the score at 4-4 with a one-out grand slam off Curacao starter Jurickson Profar in the bottom of the fifth.

Alvarez Jr., who started on the hill for his team, was on his way to a tough-luck 4-0 loss before the blast. The righthander had allowed three runs in the second on just one hit. The one hit: Liberia’s homer. The other runs in the inning came across on four walks and a hit batsman.

Alvarez surrendered the fourth run in the third, when Willie Rifaela’s fielder’s choice grounder scored Sherman La Crus. Alvarez then worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, and was taken out with one out and no one on in the fifth.

Not the best of outings by any means. But he redeemed himself with his game-tying slam.

“It was a very emotional moment for me,” Venezuela manager Richard Alvarez Sr. said of his son’s slam through interpreter Luis Sanchez.

But the homer didn’t seem to bother the Caribbean champs.

“We didn’t give up after the homer,” Isabella said. “The fighting spirit from the team keeps increasing.”

They fought right back in the next half inning, loading the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth. After Rayshelon Carolina led off with a single, Christopher Garia reached on a sacrifice bunt and Profar was hit by a pitch. But they couldn’t push any runs across as Liberia grounded one to third baseman Martin Cornieles, who threw home for the force out. With one out and the bases still loaded, La Crus smoked a grounder up the middle that was somehow knocked down by pitcher Victor Sequera, who threw home to start the 1-2-3 doubleplay to end the threat.

Curacao’s Profar struck out 11 in his six innings of work. He allowed four runs on three hits and two walks in his no-decision.

Venezuela looks to turn their luck around Sunday vs. Japan after an offday Saturday. Curacao faces Japan on Saturday, looking to win their eighth straight Little League World Series game dating to the beginning of the 2004 tournament.

Game Photos


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