Game 20: MEA 5 vs. Latin America 3

Durley’s Drive Enough for Saudi Arabia

Author: Gabe Hiatt

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Tuesday, August 25, 2009, 12:00pm ET

All it took was one solid smack.

The Arabian American Little League from Saudi Arabia scored five runs on just one hit in the bottom of the first inning at Howard J. Lamade Stadium Tuesday, defeating Latin American Region Champion Coquivacoa Little League, 5-2.

Starting pitcher Giorgio Pineda struck out John Sheppard to start the game, but than walked two consecutive batters and hit Nicky Knight to load the bases.

Manager Freddy Moran gave Pineda the hook, but Coquivacoa pitcher Jorge Ceballos fared no better once winning pitcher Cameron Durley, all 6-foot-2, 233 pounds of him, stepped up to bat.

“I definitely think I’m intimidating,” Durley said. “It’s kind of not an advantage because I have a bigger strike zone, but when I hit the ball it’s an advantage with power.”

Durley powered a two-RBI single down the right field line to put his team up, 2-1. Bryn Stonehouse came up next and reached base on a well-placed bunt, scoring Knight to make it 3-1. Ceballos then hit batter Deji Ogunsola to load the bases for the second time in the first inning, prompting Moran to replace Ceballos with Yohel Pozo.

Pozo mimicked his teammate, hitting Najib Muqeem and forcing Durley to cross the plate for Saudi Arabia’s fourth run of the inning. So Coquivacoa ace Jose Martinez asked into the game.

“He was eligible to start the game but he wanted to give those other guys a chance,” Moran said. “When they started getting a number of runs he wanted to come in, so we let him pitch again.”

Martinez sympathized with the other pitchers since both his team and Arabian American came into the game with no chance of advancing to the semifinal round. But he was less forgiving to the Arabian American lineup. After walking in a run with the bases loaded, he hurled two-straight strikeouts and ended the inning with his team losing, 5-1.

Martinez tossed the final 4.2 innings of the game, eventually punching out six batters and allowing no hits and no earned runs. Arabian American’s two-man punch of Durley and John Sheppard doubled Martinez’s production with 12 combined strikeouts.

Durley allowed a run in each of the first three innings, loading the bases after Coquivacoa made it 5-3 in the third inning with no outs. Sheppard came in and got his team out of the jam unscathed. He recorded the save by closing out the game with three innings of scoreless ball.

“Well I had my curveball working a lot,” Sheppard said. “I located my fastball pretty good most of the time, and even if I didn’t I kind of got lucky sometimes.”

Saudi Arabia’s victory didn’t get them any further in the 2009 Little League World Series, but it kept them from losing all three games after dropping tight losses to the Japan and Caribbean Region Champions. Every member of the team crashed their post-win press conference.

“It really is satisfying,” said Saudi manager Dan Somogye. “I think the kids are just thrilled to stay in two close games and come in here with a close win. It really justifies what we’ve done.”