Defending champ Aruba set to return to Senior League World Series

Posted July 10, 2011, at 8:14 p.m.
Last modified July 10, 2011, at 9:40 p.m.

Three of the 10 teams that will participate in the 2011 Senior League World Series at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor next month have been determined — a trio led by the defending world champion for Little League Baseball players ages 14-16.

The Aruba South Little League of San Nicolas, Aruba, which defeated host Maine District 3 champion Bangor 8-1 in last year’s SLWS title game, forged its way into this year’s event by winning the Latin America qualifying tournament that concluded Saturday in Mexico City, Mexico.

Aruba joins Asia Pacific champion Tanauan City, Philippines, and Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy, winner of the Europe-Middle East-Africa regional, as the first qualifiers for the Senior League World Series, which begins Aug. 14, and runs through the world championship game on Aug. 20.

Aruba earned its third straight trip to Bangor by avenging a loss earlier in the tournament to previously unbeaten Venezuela with an 8-3 victory in the Latin American final. Aruba went 3-1 in regional pool play, then defeated Guatemala 11-0 in the semifinals. Venezuela, 4-0 in pool play, defeated Curacao 12-2 in its semifinal.

Latin America has been one of the most successful entries during the previous nine years the SLWS has been held in Bangor, compiling a 35-14 overall record highlighted by the world championship efforts of Curacao (2002), Falcon, Venezuela (2006) and Aruba last year. The Latin America champion also reached the championship game in two other years — Falcon, Venezuela, in 2007 and Curacao in 2008 — and has advanced out of pool play in eight of the last nine years.

Last year’s Aruba South team finished 3-1 in pool play, then edged South Vineland, N.J., 3-2 in the semifinals before pulling away in the title game to end Bangor’s stunning run to the championship game .

Aruba also qualified for the SLWS in 2009, also going 3-1 in pool play before being ousted in the semifinals by the Niles-Centerville Little League of Fremont, Calif., 7-6.

Aruba will open 2011 SLWS Pool B play at 8 p.m. on Aug. 14 against Tanauan City, Philippines, which emerged from the three-team Asia Pacific regional tournament held at Bacolod City, Philippines.

The Philippines, Guam and Indonesia each finished 2-2 in pool play, with the Philippines losing both of its games against Guam but defeating Indonesia twice. But Indonesia then ousted Guam 10-7 before the Philippines earned its SLWS berth with a 10-0, six-inning victory over Indonesia.

This marks the fifth trip to Bangor for the SLWS by a team from the Philippines. The nation’s ILLAM (International Little League of Manila) program reached the semifinals in 2009 before falling 6-1 to eventual champion West University Little League of Houston, Texas. The Philippines also went 0-4 in pool play in 2008, 1-3 in 2006 and 0-4 in 2002.

The Asia Pacific representatives are 10-27 overall during their previous nine trips to Bangor.

Italy will be represented in the SLWS for the third straight year after its Friuli Venezia Giulia Little League upended heavily favored Stuttgart American/Ramstein Air Force Base Little League of Germany (Germany USA) 5-4 in the Europe-Middle East-Africa final held at Novara, Italy, last Thursday.

The Germany USA team had outscored its five previous opponents by a combined 62-2 entering that game, including a 9-0 win over Italy in pool play.

But that was the Italians’ lone loss of the five-team event that also included teams from Kuwait, Germany and Bulgaria. Italy defeated Kuwait City, Kuwait, 19-5 in the semifinals while Germany USA was an 11-0 winner over Doupnitza, Bulgaria.

The EMEA champions, who also participated in the 2009 Junior League (ages 13-14) World Series, will begin play in this year’s SLWS against the yet-to-be-determined U.S. Southwest champion at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 14.

Lazio, Italy, went 1-3 in last year’s tournament, while the Friuli Venezia Giulia program went 1-3 in 2009.

The Europe-Middle East-Africa representatives are 6-30 in their nine previous trips to the Senior League World Series in Bangor.

The next team to qualify for the Senior League World Series will be the Maine District 3 entry. That tournament runs July 21-26 at Mansfield Stadium.

Other regional championship tournaments to be played include the following: U.S. West at Ontario, Calif., Aug. 2-9; Canada at Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Aug-4-10; U.S. Southwest at Seguin, Texas, Aug. 5-10; U.S. East at West Deptford, N.J., Aug. 5-11; U.S. Southeast at Viera Suntree, Fla., Aug. 5-11; and the U.S. Central at Peru and Oglesby, Ill., Aug. 5-11.

The 2011 Senior League World Series will open at noon on Aug. 14 with a Pool A game between Maine District 3 and Canada.

Curacao teammates named to Futures game

Two teammates on the Willemstad, Curacao, team that reached the championship game of the 2008 Senior League World Series were teammates Sunday for the World team that competed in the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Futures Game in Phoenix, Ariz.

Jurickson Profar and Jonathan Schoop made up the left side of the infield for the Curacao team that won the 2004 Little League World Series and finished second in the 2005 LLWS before advancing to the Senior League ranks, where they led the Latin America champions to the 2008 World Series final before falling to Upper Deerfield, N.J., 10-8.

Now both are at the Class A minor league level, Profar with the Texas Rangers organization and Schoop with the Baltimore Orioles.

The 18-year-old Profar, a shortstop, was ranked the 74th-best prospect in the minor leagues before this season began by Baseball America, and is batting .270 with eight home runs, 36 RBIs and 10 stolen bases for the Hickory (N.C.) Crawdads of the South Atlantic League.

Schoop, a 19-year-old shortstop and third baseman, has split time this season between the Delmarva Shorebirds of Salisbury, Md., and the South Atlantic League and the Frederick (Md.) Keys of the Carolina League. He is batting .281 with eight home runs and 44 RBIs.

The All-Star Futures Game annually matches top minor league prospects from the United States and from other parts of the world. Rosters are selected by Baseball America in conjunction with Major League Baseball and the 30 major league teams.

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