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Romero’s Two-Run Home Run Sends Mexico to the International Championship Game
By George Thompson
Game Attendance: 11,158
All it took was one swing by Jorge Romero for the champions from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, to book their ticket to the International Championship game with a 4-2 victory over the Latin American Region champions from Aguadulce, Cocle, Panama, in front of a crowd of 11,158 at Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, Pa., Thursday.
With Jorge Rodriguez on second and one out, Romero came up to bat with the chance to put Mexico on top, and he delivered. With one crack of the bat, he sent a home run over the center-field wall, giving Mexico a 4-2 lead.
After the game, Romero said he was thinking only about his job when he hit the home run, which was to get a hit and get on base.
That’s all the Mexico defense would need the next inning, as pitcher Romero got the final out with runners on second and third, putting them one game closer to the Little League Baseball® World Series Championship game.
“I was actually very confident we were going to get the out,” Romero said after the game.
“I have a lot of confidence in them,” manager Francisco Fimbres echoed. In a game that started out with little offense because of strong pitching by both sides, errors would play a key role in the outcome. With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the fifth, an error by Latin America’s shortstop allowed Saúl Favela to reach second, and the very next batter would make Latin America pay. Alexander Artalejo sent a single into left field, scoring Favela and giving Mexico a 2-1 lead.
Latin America got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fifth, tying the game again when Jean Mar Sanchez scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jordan Agrazal.
Mexico had a chance to end it when they loaded the bases in the top of the sixth with two outs, but Ramon Mendoza flied out to right field, ending the threat to Latin America’s defense.
In the end, it wouldn’t make a difference, as Romero put Mexico in the lead for good in the next inning with his long two-run home run.
Despite the loss, Latin America’s manager said he was proud of his team after the game. “It was a great game,” manager Luis Gonzalez said. “Panama should be proud of them,” he added.
With the win, Mexico will face Japan in the International Championship game, and manager Fimbres thinks that his batters are going to need to show even more patience at the plate than they did today. In addition, he said they need to play good defense and make the plays that need to be made.
Whichever way you look at it, it is sure to be a good game. The International Championship game will take place on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 12:30 p.m. at Lamade Stadium. It will be the second time that the Mexico Region Champions will face off against the Japan Region Champions, with the team from Tokyo winning the first meeting against Tijuana, 5-2.