Sauceda Achieves Perfection
By Jesse Caputo
The Matamoros Little League All-Stars of the Mexico Region met with William Winokur, author of The Perfect Game, before Sunday’s contest against Europe Region’s Emilia Little League. Winokur, who documented the perfect game thrown by Monterrey, Mexico's Angel Macias in 1957, made a bet with the team that if they threw a perfect game, he’d write a book about them, too.
Four innings later, Mexico kept their end of the bargain, beating Europe 12-0 in a mercy-rule shortened game.
Mexico jumped ahead quickly, scoring four runs in the first inning, highlighted by a leadoff home run from Tomas Castillo.
Those four runs would be more than enough for Mexico starting pitcher Jesus Sauceda, who faced twelve batters and struck them all out.
“This pitcher and this kind of speed does not exist in Italy,” Europe manager Andrea Bettati said. “It goes beyond it. We were in trouble.”
Europe looked overmatched at the plate, swinging at almost every pitch Sauceda threw, even several that appeared to be out of the strike zone.
After scoring two more runs in the second inning to make 6-0, Mexico broke out in the third inning for six more runs, including two home runs. Castillo hit another blast deep to left field that still hasn’t landed, and Sauceda topped off his magical day with a grand slam.
In the top of the fourth, Europe pinch hitter Matteo Lanfranchi came close to ending Sauceda’s bid for a perfect and even a no-hitter. Lanfranchi battled, fouling off several pitches and pulling one down the line which landed just foul.
Sauceda came back to strike out Lanfranchi and the next two batters to complete the perfect game.
“The first batter was really fighting the pitches off and I was starting to get nervous there because he just kept fouling them off,” Sauceda said through an interpreter. “On the very last hitter, I realized I was so close to the perfect game, but I was tired. I threw my hardest on that last pitch and am very grateful how it turned out.”
After the final strike was called, Mexico fans sitting behind the bench erupted into thunderous applause as Sauceda walked off the field and was congratulated by teammates and coaches.
Sauceda’s 24 family members were all in attendance to watch his incredible performance, and held up 12 “K”s they had written on signs to celebrate the achievement.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” Sauceda said. “I just got out there and threw. I was at least trying to get the perfect game, but definitely not the twelve strike outs.”
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