Aruba, Italy qualify for tournament

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Posted July 19, 2009, at 8:09 p.m.

Teams representing Aruba and Italy have joined the field for the 2009 Senior League World Series that will be held Aug. 16-22 at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

The Aruba South Little League of San Nicholas, Aruba, won the Latin America qualifying tournament Sunday, while the Friuli Venezia Giulia Little League of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy, won the Europe-Middle East-Africa title.

This will mark the first time a team from either Aruba or Italy has played in the SLWS since the event moved to Bangor in 2002.

Aruba advanced through a 12-team Latin America tournament held at Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, defeating the host team 19-5 in Sunday’s championship game.

Aruba went undefeated in seven regional tournament games, including 5-0 in pool play with victories over Cartagena, Colombia, (11-3), Guyama, Puerto Rico (6-3), Philipsburg, Saint Maarten (11-1), Chitre, Panama (6-2) and Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles (14-4).

The champs then defeated Maracaibo, Venezuela, 9-5 in the semifinals.

Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, lost its first game of pool play to Guatemala City, Guatemala (6-4) before rebounding with four straight pool victories, including one-run wins over St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (2-1) and Willemstad, Curacao (8-7) to advance to the semifinals.

The host team edged Panama 8-7 to earn its berth in the championship game.

The Latin American champion has had considerable success at the SLWS during its stay in Bangor, going 25-9 overall and 21-7 in pool play, an effort highlighted by the world titles won by Falcon, Venezuela, in 2006 and Willemstad, Curacao, in 2002.

The Latin American qualifier has advanced from pool play to the semifinals in six of the last seven years, and also reached the world championship game each of the last two years, with Falcon, Venezuela, losing to Cartersville, Ga., 9-0 in 2007 and Willemstad, Curacao falling to Upper Deerfield, N.J., 10-8, last summer.

Aruba will open play in this year’s Senior League World Series with a Pool B game against the U.S. Central champion at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16.

Italy will play its first game at Mansfield Stadium earlier that day in a 5:30 p.m. start against the U.S. East champion.

Italy went 3-2 in preliminary-round play at the EMEA qualifying tournament held at Ramstein, Germany, defeating teams from Maldova, Mannheim, Germany, and the Netherlands while losing to the Ramstein Air Force Base Little League and Vilnius, Lithuania.

That effort was good enough to qualify the Italian squad as the third seed for the semifinals where it edged Ramstein AFB 7-6 before topping the Kvint Little League of Tiraspol, Maldova, 10-6 in the championship game.

Maldova, which also finished 3-2 in preliminary-round play, defeated Lithuania 5-1 in its semifinal.

Italy will attempt to improve on EMEA’s performance in previous Senior League World Series held in Bangor.

That regional champion is 4-24 in seven previous appearances and has yet to advance beyond pool play.

Moscow, Russia, went 2-2 in 2003, while the 2002 Moscow team finished 1-3 and Tbilisi, Georgia, went 1-3 in 2006 to account for EMEA’s other SLWS wins.

Teams from Vilnius, Lithuania, went 0-4 each of the last two years.

Italy and Aruba join Asia-Pacific champion Makati City, Philippines, as teams that already have qualified for the 10-team SLWS field.

The next team to qualify will come Wednesday when the host Maine District 3 champion is crowned. The Canadian champion as well as U.S. regional winners from the East, South, Southwest, Central and West will be determined between Aug. 11 and Aug. 13.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/07/19/sports/aruba-italy-qualify-for-tournament/ printed on September 17, 2014