Game 21
Transatlantic
0 vs. Latin America 4

Monday, August 23, 2005
1:00PM ET
Volunteer Stadium

 
For the love of the game
Both teams knew tournament play for them was over after this. That’s why this 4-0 Venezuela win was all about pride.

By Allie Weinberger

The win really didn’t matter.

Down 0-2 in the Series, neither the Arabian American Little League nor the Los Leones Little League had a shot at advancing. Neither team would play in a World Series game again in 2005. And neither team cared.

They just love baseball.

“We always enjoy our trip to the Little League World Series,” said Saudi manager Tommy Bumstead. “The kids are treated like such professionals.”

But while the rest of South Williamsport forgot about the 0-2 tykes from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, two teams battled and played their hearts out, registering just six hits between them.

And in a game that didn’t affect the Little League Baseball World Series, Venezuela earned its first tournament victory in front of 4,750 at Volunteer Stadium, 4-0. The pitchers of the Latin American All-Stars notched 11 strikeouts, increasing their tournament total to 33. Venezuela’s duo of hurlers faced 20 batters – just two over the six-inning game minimum – and allowed two hits.

“This game, we were playing for pride,” said pitcher Richard Alvarez, Jr. through interpreter Dr. Luis Sanchez. “That’s why we had so many strikeouts.”

Venezuela got the ball rolling in the bottom of the first, when an error on six-foot-five Saudi first baseman Aaron Durley put Alvarez on the bag. Martin Cornieles then looped a single over the head of right fielder Paul Kelsch for a base hit, moving Alvarez over to third. Cornieles advanced to second on the throw from right.

The first of two wild pitches by Saudi starter Alex Robinett gave Alvarez the plate and the first run, followed immediately by a second wild pitch to score a second unearned run.

“Where we’ve lost games is we’ve given teams extra opportunities,” said Bumstead. “Every time that we’ve had an error, it leads to a run.”

Catcher Connor Clark mishandled a toss from his hurler and moved Victor Sequera to third before Robinett, previously 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six innings of work, stuck out Eduardo Castellanos on a called third strike to end the inning.

In the bottom of the second, shortstop Gabriel Santana doubled the Venezuela lead to 4-0, taking one off Robinett and squeaking it just over the center field fence for a two-out, two-run home run.

Santana said he didn’t think too much about his outfield blast.

“I didn’t really try to his a home run. It just came,” he said through Sanchez.

“[Venezuela] has tremendous athletes and quick hands at the plate,” the Transatlantic manager said in his Texas drawl. “If you leave a ball over the plate, they’ll make you pay.”

After a YMCA dance break – performed by Little League Mascot Dugout and Venezuela right fielder Othecber Orozco – broke up the third, Robinett toed the rubber to retire the Latin America side in order.

“Alex has been our go-to guy,” Bumstead said. “And we wanted to give him the opportunity to go out and win here today.”

But in the fourth with no outs and one on, Bumstead brought in Alec Dalhseide to relieve his tired hurler.

“[Robinett] told us before the inning that his arm felt a little tired,” said the Saudi skipper. “I could tell he was struggling, and I made the call.”

After two fielder’s choice balls (one for no out), Dahlseide finished out the side forcing a strikeout and a grounder to third.

Alvarez came out to pitch in the top of the fifth, retiring the Saudi side in order with two strikeouts.

Alvarez led off the bottom of the fifth with a powerful hopper over the second base bag and into center field. After almost being picked off at first, the pitcher took second on a passed ball. But a Martin Cornieles grounder back to the mound got the first out, followed by a Gilberto Vielma strikeout and another grounder to the mound off the bat of Sequera.

“For 99 percent of these players, this will be the highlight of their athletic career,” said Bumstead, his voice emanating love and pride for his players.

But the top of the sixth was all the boys from Saudi Arabia had left. Down 4-0 in their final pool play game, the Transatlantic champs knew their stay at Williamsport was over. Alvarez was back on the mound, looking to finish his team’s two-hit shutout.

And after a deep fly ball that sent center fielder Darwin Paez back to the warning track, Alvarez got it, fanning Ryan Bumstead and finishing Saudi’s tournament play with a 0-2 fastball.

Though the Los Leones boys were satisfied with today’s win, they weren’t too satisfied with their two previous loses. But Alvarez admitted that their pool losses were against two difficult teams – the 3-0 Japan and the defending World Series Champion Curacao.

Though two teams who love the game of baseball left the Williamsport tournament today, at least one leaves the States vindicated – and proud.

Game Photos


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