BANGOR — As Monday’s Senior League World Series finale became a pitchers’ duel, it looked like Ryan Erickson’s two-run double in the fourth would hold up as the game-winning hit for Manhattan Beach, Calif.
After the Latin American champs from San Nicholas, Aruba, tied the game at 2-2 with a run in the bottom of the seventh, Erickson was given a chance to do it again.
And the West champions’ third baseman did just that.
Erickson ripped another two-run double to left-center in the top of the eighth to provide the winning margin in a 5-3 victory for Manhattan Beach in a battle of 1-0 teams at Mansfield Stadium Monday night.
Not bad for a guy who was going through an adjustment period.
“Usually I bat leadoff, but I batted fifth tonight,” Erickson said. “I wasn’t doing well, contact-wise, so I switched my approach and took a shorter swing by shortening up on the bat a little.”
His shortened swing produced a couple of long, RBI liners.
“I got a high fastball on the first one and a lower one on the second,” he said.
Erickson wasn’t the only West player moving up or down the lineup as Manhattan Beach’s Nos. 4 and 5 hitters were moved to the sixth and seventh spots, respectively to generate some more offense.
The result was an 11-hit attack led by Erickson and No. 3 hitter Bret Collins, who had three singles and two runs. New cleanup hitter Brett Clark had two singles.
Another changeup was West head coach Carlos Rojas’ decision to start No. 5 starting pitcher Sam O’Melia. O’Melia located his fastball on the outside regularly for strikes to keep Aruba’s hitters off balance.
O’Melia didn’t get the win but threw 4¤ innings of three-hit, one-run ball with three walks and two strikeouts.
“He kept us close and that’s all I asked of him,” said Rojas. “He’s our number five starter, but he really asked for the ball against Aruba and since he can hit the outside corner well, that worked well against them.”
Aruba took a 1-0 lead in the first on back-to-back leadoff walk and Jiandido Tromp’s RBI double. Erickson’s two-run double in the fourth made it 2-1 and the score stayed that way until a white-knuckle seventh in which Milton Croes led off with his second of three singles in four innings, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, moved to third with a walk to Mitchell Martes, and scored on Chadwick Tromp’s bases-loaded walk with two outs.
Rather than wilt, the 2-0 West champs rebounded with four straight hits in the eighth, scoring first on a wild pitch and twice more on Erickson’s second big double.
Aruba scored once in the eighth as Croes singled again, went to second on Shawn Duinkerk’s single, and scored on an infield throwing error.
After swiping a Series record 10 bases Sunday night, 1-1 Aruba managed just one steal Monday.
“Our pitchers changed up looks, worked fast and held people on, and that really helped us,” said catcher Ian McLoughlin, who called most of the pitches.
Austin Henning earned the win with two innings of relief after giving up the tying run in the seventh.
“Their pitchers dominated our guys,” said Aruba head coach Rayborn Didder. “We didn’t make some adjustments and those last three innings, we had runners in scoring position and we didn’t do the job.”
West (2-0) 000 200 03 — 5 11 1
Latin America (1-1) 100 000 11 — 3 9 1
O’Melia, Ascher (5), Henning (7) and McLoughlin; Duinkerk, Taveras (7), Danies (8) and C. Tromp; WP—Henning (1-0); LP—Danies (0-1); Repeat hitters: Collins (MB), Erickson (MB), Manuel (A), Croes (A), J. Tromp (A); Extra-base hits: 2B: Erickson 2 (MB); McLoughlin (MB), J. Tromp (A)