BANGOR — Defending Senior League World Series champion Aruba found itself in need of a win Tuesday night after dropping a one-run decision to Hilo, Hawaii, on Monday night.
Eugene Helder pitched 5 ⅓ innings of one-hit shutout ball, retiring 16 of the 17 hitters he faced, and he aided his own cause with a run-scoring double and a single to lead the Latin American champs to a 5-1 victory over U.S. Central champ Midland, Mich., at Mansfield Stadium.
Aruba improved to 2-1 while Midland fell to 1-1.
Aruba will face U.S. Southeast champ Palm Bay, Fla., on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. while Midland will play Asia-Pacific titlist Tanauan City, Philippines, in the next game at 2:30.
Helder struck out five and didn’t walk anyone before being replaced for pitch-count reasons.
He threw 60 pitches, 44 for strikes, and that means he only has to rest for one calendar day and one game. If he had thrown a 61st pitch, he would have had to rest for two calendar days and at least one game.
“I felt great in the bullpen warming up,” said righthander Helder, who featured a fastball, curve and splitter.
“I used my fastball most of the time,” said Helder, who retired the first 12 hitters he faced before Matt Somers grounded a single down the third base line to open the fifth.
“That’s the best game he’s ever pitched,” said Aruba catcher Chadwick Tromp.
“He wasn’t overpowering, but he mixed up his pitches well, he hit his spots and he kept us off-balance,” said Midland center fielder Logan Madill.
In addition to his five strikeouts, Helder induced six ground-ball outs.
Helder supplied Aruba with a 1-0 lead in the third inning when he followed Jason Gijsbertha’s infield single with his ringing double over Madill’s head off starter Somers.
“I expected a fastball and I got it. It was a little bit up,” said Helder.
He went to third on a one-out wild pitch and scored on a two-out wild pitch.
Aruba made it 3-0 in the fifth on singles by Jomark Flanegin and Marvin Brown and Helder’s one-out single to center that skipped under the glove of Madill for an error.
Michigan got a run back off reliever Ray-Patrick Didder in the sixth on Michael Wright’s infield single, a throwing error by Helder, who had moved to shortstop; and a throwing error by Flanegin on Thomas Smith’s grounder.
Miklos Petronia gave Aruba some valuable insurance in the seventh with a two-out, two-run single to right on a 1-2 pitch. That followed one-out singles by Didder and Tromp and a fielder’s choice.
“He (reliever Ryan Singer) threw me a curve on the outside corner and I hit it to right. I thought he’d throw me a curve,” said Petronia. “I was patient. I wasn’t patient in my earlier at-bats.”
“We missed our spot there. We wanted to throw it off the plate to try to get him to chase it,” said Midlands manager Scott Madill.
Midland loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh on singles by Somers, Travis Walker and pinch-hitter Elliott Digison.
Digison had greeted reliever Wilmer Imperator with a sharp single to right, but Imperator got the final two outs on a liner to center and a strikeout.
Helder also drew a walk and had a stolen base. Imperator had a pair of base hits and a walk.
Somers, who had a pair of base hits for Midland, pitched well in defeat as he scattered five hits and three runs over five innings with two strikeouts and three walks.
<span class=”Sports_agate_baseball”>Latin America 002 010 2 — 5 10 2</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate_baseball”>U.S. Central 000 001 0 — 1 5 2</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate”>Helder, Didder (6), Imperator (7) and Tromp; Somers, Hentschel (6), Singer (7) and Comiskey</span>