Rain Brings Out the Best in Mexico
Mexico eliminates Puerto Rico with four late runs
Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date/Time: Monday, August 23, 2010, 4:00pm ET
Days of kids sliding down it and hours of steady rain have made the hill above Lamade Stadium very sloppy. Monday afternoon, the play on the field reflected the hill's condition.
In an elimination game, Puerto Rico and Mexico combined to make nine fielding errors and numerous mental mistakes. Mexico ultimately made fewer blunders and finally took advantage of a few of Puerto Rico's seven errors for a 4-2 victory.
Mexico will face Japan in the Pool C finals, but must win twice to move on to the International finals. Mexico lost to Japan 4-2 in its first game of the tournament and fell into the losers' bracket.
After failing to capitalize on Puerto Rico's first two errors, Mexico found itself in a 2-0 hole when rain began falling in the third inning. The rain provided Mexico a chance to regroup during a 70-minute delay. After the delay, Mexico appeared to be reenergized and scored four unanswered runs for the comeback victory.
"It was very hard to keep them focused [during the delay]," manager Armando Rodriguez said through interpreter Sergio Guzman. "Fortunately the rain delay played in our favor."
Puerto Rico had just scored two runs in the top of the inning when the rain became too much. Pitcher Jonathan Martinez had worked effectively around his defense's mistakes to keep Mexico off the board. But after the delay, something was different, he struggled to throw strikes and his defense continued to make mistakes.
Manager Jose Valentin said Martinez (1-1) lost his command after sitting for so long.
"It was difficult after the rain delay," he said through interpreter Antonio Gonzalez. "Our pitcher was weaker later. Instead, their pitcher became stronger."
Mexico quickly scored two runs in its half of the third inning, helped by a pair of errors. From there, pitcher Eduardo Mata (1-0) took control. The right-hander retired nine of the 10 batters he faced after the rain delay, allowing only a single to Yomar Valentin.
Of the final nine outs recorded by Mexico, seven came on strikeouts. Mata pitched a complete game, allowing five hits and striking out 11.
During the rain delay, Mata said his teammates encouragement helped him relax.
"They kept me motivated," he said. "They said keep strong, keep focused and throw the ball as you know how to."
Rodriguez said he didn't really consider removing Mata from the game, though he did send a reliever down to the bullpen to get loose. With so many games left between Mexico and the finals, he didn't want to use any other pitchers if he didn't have to.
Puerto Rico, however, was eliminated. The Caribbean champions, which featured three of Jose Valentin's grandsons, were done in by their own mistakes in each of the last two games. Puerto Rico made 10 errors in its two losses at Williamsport; something that Jose Valentin knows doesn't lead to many victories.
"With seven errors, no team's going to win," he said. "It was a very bad game for us."