By Ethan Roy
After falling 4-0 to South Korea in the second round of the 2019 Little League Baseball® World Series, Curaçao’s bats woke up, as the Caribbean Region Champions from Pabao Little League outscored their opponents 22-6 in three straight elimination games. In order to topple the perennially talented Japan Region Champion, that offensive momentum needed to continue.
Through three innings, Curaçao had already scored more runs (3) than Japan had allowed in three games (2) leading into the International Championship. With all of Japan’s pitchers available, it was critical for Curaçao to generate offense early and often if it wanted to advance to the World Championship on Sunday.
In large part due to a Shendrion Martinus double with the bases loaded in the top of the third, Curaçao had established a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third inning. After outscoring their opponents 32-2 in their previous three contests, Japan’s offense was inevitable. It was only a matter of time, and that time came when Daiki Kobari doubled to left field, scoring two and trimming Curaçao’s lead to 3-2.
With the lead cut to one, Japan’s offense began generating momentum and Curaçao’s had begun to plateau after a 1-2-3 fourth inning.
One run wasn’t enough to survive Japan’s offense for two more innings. Japan knew it. Curaçao knew it, and Curley Martha knew it.
To open the fifth inning, Deshandro Tromp singled to right field sending Martha up to the plate.
Coming into the game, Martha was the Series’ co-leader in home runs (2) and runs scored (7), sharing the top spot with South Korea’s Jinwon Na.
After looking at ball one, Curley Martha took sole possession of both leaderboards with one swing of the bat.
On a 1-0 offering from Taishi Kawaguchi, he delivered a fastball several inches off the outside of home plate, but it didn’t matter. Martha got all the way around on it, connecting barrel to ball and blasting Kawaguchi’s offering well over the center field wall.
It was a no-doubter the instant it left the bat. Dropping his bat, pointing to the air, and beginning his trot around the bases with several slow steps, Martha, who had entered the game at pitcher the inning prior, produced the two runs that would end up being the difference-maker.
Martha has been the sparkplug of the Curaçao offense this entire tournament, leading the team in hits (8), home runs (3), and runs scored (7) going into the International Championship. That continued on Saturday afternoon in front of tens of thousands of fans, and countless more watching from home.
Martha’s last two home runs have come in critical moments for the newly-crowned 2019 International Region Champions. In the International Semifinal, his second home run, a solo shot to center field, gave Curaçao some essential insurance, pushing their lead to 5-3 over South Korea.
With a tendency to come through for Curaçao in big moments, Martha not only delivered insurance when Curaçao needed it most but went on to win the game on the hill.