Game 25
Mexico  11
 vs. Latin America
0

Wednesday,
 August 23, 2006
3:00PM ET


Mexico Powers Way Into International Final
With an 11-run Shutout Over the Latin America Champs, Mexico Advances to the International Championship

By Allie Weinberger
Special Correspondent

An extra 20 feet of outfield might stop a lot of sluggers. Just not the ones from Mexico.

At Howard J. Lamade Stadium, in an 11-0 game cut to four innings via the mercy rule, Mexico rocked Venezuela in a lopsided International bracket semifinal game that featured three home runs and 11 Mexico hits. The win puts Mexico in the International Championship Game Saturday night at Lamade Stadium.

Just three batters into the game, Mexico took an early 2-0 lead with Jose Segoviano’s towering home run that cleared the hedges in left-centerfield with a man on first. Things quickly got worse for the Cadenales Little Leaguers, after Josue Barron was awarded first base after being hit on the wrist by starting hurler Manuel Barrios. A single through an infield gap from Roberto Guajardo, followed by a fielding error by shortstop Ermison Arellano, loaded the bases for Manlio Cantu.

But Barrios’s control was wavering early, and Cantu drew a 3-1 walk to bring home the third run of the inning.

“We had seen him throw before,” Mexico manager Candelario Perez said through interpreter Micah Hughes. “We looked at his numbers and we looked at him as a really strong pitcher, so we were surprised that we had such success against him.”

With the bases still loaded and two outs, Barrios got No. 9 hitter Reynaldo Mariscal to ground out to second to end the top of the first. But the firestorm was far from over.

With the early 3-0 lead, Mexico ace Omar Zamora took the mound for what would turn out to be an 11-strikeout, three-hit performance.

“He seemed focused and came out to play hard,” said Venezuela manager Domingo Carrasquel through interpreter Dr. Luis Sanchez. “He pitched well.”

Unfortunately, success wasn’t in the cards for Venezuela Wednesday afternoon. After an error at third base put a runner on in the second, Barrios gave up a single to slugger Jorge Villafranca before being yanked in favor of Arellano.

But Arellano’s stuff wasn’t on either.

With runners on first and second, pinch hitter Jesus Garza stepped to the plate and looped a pitch into left field to score Zamora. The throw home allowed both runners to advance with just one out in the frame.

And if Venezuela’s troubles weren’t enough, Barron took Arellano deep on the very next at-bat to clear the bases and put Mexico up, 7-0. A one-out walk to pinch hitter Isaac Lambarri followed, prompting Venezuela’s second pitching change of the inning.

Robert Guedez, brought in to relieve Arellano, made the final two outs of the inning in order.

Venezuela found little success on the offensive side of the ball either. Mexico’s Zamora struck out the side in order in the second after allowing just one hit in the first.

“I’m just thankful that I was as successful as I was having the worry about my arm coming into the game,” said Zamora. The pitcher’s forearm was sore heading into Wednesday’s game and he was afraid he would struggle as a result.

But not only did he shine from the mound, he scored twice in a 2-for-4 day at the plate.

The pitcher was also the one to get a four-run third inning rolling with a triple down the right-field line. Villafranca followed with a free trip to first, and Segoviano got his second hit of the day to score Zamora and give Mexico an 8-0 lead.

Both base runners advanced on a wild pitch during the next at-bat, putting runners in scoring position. Three batters later, the Mexico sluggers were at it again, cashing in with another shot over the centerfield fence courtesy of Roberto Guajardo to run the score to 11-0.

“I had no idea it would be so easy,” Perez said. “I anticipated having won the game, but never in such an easy way.”

The top of the fourth was much of the same for Mexico, the frustration visibly mounting on the Venezuelan side. But with runners on the corners and two out, Oswaldo Espinoza saved another Mexico run with a sliding catch in shallow centerfield to strand two.

“The other coaches and I tried to revive their enthusiasm and [get them to] do the best they could,” said Carrasquel.

Venezuela managed to get one more hit in the bottom of the fourth, but Zamora continued to dominate and stuck out the side swinging.

“It was just having a higher level of confidence coming into the game today,” said Perez. “We didn’t feel as much pressure today.”

The Mexico champs batted through the order in each of the first two innings and sported three hedge-clearing home runs in each of the first three frames. Mexico’s 11 RBI were spread among five players, while Zamora pitched a four-inning gem.

 


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