Game 23
Transatlantic  0
 vs. Latin American 1

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
6:00PM ET


Viva Venezuela!
Latin American champs finish first in Pool C after eight-inning 1-0 win vs. Saudi Arabia

By Mark Rogoff
Special Correspondent

Just because Jose A. Martinez’s night was over on the mound didn’t make his night over in the batter’s box.

Martinez, who allowed just three hits while striking out 13 in six shutout innings vs. Saudi Arabia, came to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the eighth in a scoreless ballgame.

And…bingo.

Martinez laced a single up the middle that scored Jordy D. Freitez from third, giving his Venezuela team its second eight-inning
1-0 win of the tournament in front of 5,200 baseball fans at Volunteer Stadium.

With the victory, Venezuela finishes Pool C play with a 3-0 mark, and will face Mexico in an International semifinal Wednesday. Saudi Arabia (2-1) also advances to play Japan in Thursday’s International semifinal.

“As a pitcher, I didn’t have the opportunity to win, but I knew as a hitter I would give my friend Alexander (Ramirez) the chance to win,” Martinez said through interpret Dr. Luis Sanchez.

Alexander pitched the seventh and eighth innings to earn the win.

“(I feel) very proud,” Martinez added. “I was just looking for any ball to hit or a sacrifice fly.”

One might as well have said the game was brought to you by the letter ‘K’.

You couldn’t have asked anything more from Saudi starter Andrew Holden and Martinez. Seventeen of the 18 outs Holden recorded were strikeouts. Thirteen of the 18 outs Martinez recorded were punchouts.

Holden carried a no-hitter into the sixth, striking out lead-off man Jordy D. Freitez before allowing a single up the middle to Manuel A. Barrios. Holden got right back on track, striking out Roberto A. Valera and Martinez to end the inning and his outing.

“He deserved a lot better than that,” said Saudi manager James Durley. “He pitched a great game. He pitched a game that was good enough to win. Our sticks just kind of faltered for us tonight. That’s not taking anything away from Latin America. They played a really good game. They did just enough to win.”

Venezuela nearly ended it in the bottom of the seventh against reliever Nate Barnett. Danger F. Freitez and Alexander D. Ramirez had back-to-back singles to lead of the inning. Wraunther D. Sanchez then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners.

That’s as far as they would get, though, as Barnett settled down to get Ermison Y. Arellano to pop out and Eduardo M. Perozo to ground out in a close play at first.

The Saudi All-Stars came right back in the top of the eighth with a chance of their own. Barnett was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He then went to second on a passed ball and third on a wild pitch. Following a George Luo strikeout, Matt Timoney bunted down the first base line. Ramirez bounced off the mound, picked up the ball and threw to his catcher Perozo, who blocked the plate and tagged out Barnett.

“They made the plays when they needed to,” manager Durley said. “It was just a matter of execution, and it played out well for them.”

“That was a very important play because it maintained the shutout and gave us hope to continue to obtain the victory,” Venezuela manager Domingo A. Carrasquel said through interpreter Sanchez.

Martinez struck out the first eight batters he faced before Nate Barnett smacked a single to left.

In its first eight-inning game, Venezuela and Saipan dueled for seven shutout innings before Venezuela scored in the bottom of the eighth to win it 1-0.

A Pool B game featuring Louisiana and Missouri also was scoreless after eight innings. Louisiana won that affair 1-0 in nine innings.

“(Tonight) was a very important victory because it raises our hopes and desire,” manager Carrasquel said. “Perhaps it wakes them up offensively. They are kind of low in hits.”

“We came here to play and win no matter which team we encounter, and with our heart we have we feel we can beat anybody.”

Saudi Arabia advances out of pool play for the first time since 1994.

“Being able to advance is something special for these boys,” said manager Durley. “I’m very proud of them. They are very excited to stick around for the semifinals.”



 

 

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