BANGOR — Ray Patrick Didder figured he’d get the chance to pitch again Wednesday. He had already seen relief duty in each of San Nicolas, Aruba’s first three games at this year’s Senior League World Series.
What the righthander didn’t know was just how much he would pitch. When scheduled starter Pedro Rangel hadn’t recovered from the flu by game time, Didder stepped in and tossed a four-hitter as the defending SLWS champions defeated Palm Bay, Fla., 6-2 at Mansfield Stadium.
“Yesterday my coach told me that I would have to pitch today,” said Didder. “It was like 10 minutes before the game started when my coach came and told me that Pedro wasn’t feeling well and that I had to go out and pitch.”
Didder, who had thrown 65 pitches over three previous one-inning relief appearances, threw 91 pitches, 57 for strikes, in helping Aruba complete pool play with a 3-1 record.
“He hit the corners very (well),” said Aruba catcher Chadwick Tromp. “At some point you’ve got to realize it’s not all about the speed, it’s about the target you’re hitting, and the corners were working well today.”
Aruba joins 3-0 Hilo, Hawaii, as a three-victory team in Pool B, and 2-1 Midland, Mich., also can get to three wins Thursday with a victory over Hawaii. Should Michigan defeat Hawaii, the two teams from the pool that will advance to Friday’s semifinals would be determined by tiebreakers, but Hawaii defeats Michigan then Hawaii would be the pool champion and Aruba the runner-up.
“We really needed (Didder) today because Pedro was feeling sick,” said Aruba manager Milton Croes. “Now we have our pitchers ready to go to the semifinals, but we still have to wait for that result.”
Didder, who retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced after falling behind 2-1 in the third inning, struck out six and walked two while being backed by errorless defense.
“The defense was good,” said Didder, one of five Aruba players back from last year’s world championship team. “My catcher wanted me to pitch outside so the infield had to be ready. I trust my defense, so I just pitched well and they made the outs.”
Aruba’s offense, while slow to get going against Palm Bay righthander Jim Tolle, amassed 12 hits, with eight different players getting at least one hit. Tromp doubled and singled for the Latin American champions, while Didder singeld twice and Jomark Flanegin and Marvin Brown each had two RBIs.
Aruba took control with a three-run, fourth-inning rally aided by two Palm Bay errors.
Marc Danies reached on a one-out error by second baseman Cody Clevenger, then singles by Miklos Petronia and Didder loaded the bases with no one out.
Flanegin walked to force home Danies and forge a 2-2 tie, then Petronia scored on a sacrifice fly by Marvin Brown and Didder also scored after an errant throw by Palm Bay right fielder Michael Everette.
Aruba padded its lead with two runs on four hits in the fifth, including an opposite-field RBI double by Tromp that drove home Wilmer Imperator and Brown’s two-out, bases-loaded bunt single down the third-base line that scored Tromp.
“My coach told me to do a bunt, and it was all good,” said Brown, who deadened the ball on the grass about halfway between home plate and third base. “In Aruba we play almost all on rocks, so it’s easier to bunt here.”
Tolle scattered nine hits over five innings for 0-3 Palm Bay, striking out three batters, walking two and yielding two earned runs.
Aruba took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run after two were out in the bottom of the second. Didder lofted a fly ball to center field that Palm Bay’s Corey Fletcher could not handle, then stole second base before scoring when Flanegin singled to center.
Palm Bay took its only lead in the top of the third on RBI singles by Matthew Meyer and Tolle. Clevenger led off the inning with a single to center and went to second on a one-out walk to Jeff Korte before scoring when Meyer’s served a single to right.
Korte was cut down at the plate on a fielder’s choice grounder to short by Matt Rose, but Tolle then lined a single to center to drive home Meyer and give the Floridians a 2-1 lead.
U.S. Southeast (0-3) 002 000 0 —- 2-4-3
Latin America (3-1) 010 320 x —- 6-10-0
Tolle, Meyer (6) and Korte; Didder and Tromp