SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Ramon Ballina hit a three-run homer and Mexico stayed alive at the Little League World Series with a 6-2 victory over Curacao on Tuesday.
Ballina is now tied for the World Series lead with three homers, but this hot streak is nothing new.
“I hit the ball better in our national tournament, actually,” the 13-year-old Ballina said through an interpreter.
Mexico played without manager Fernando Rios, who was suspended for two games after a player on his roster did not bat during a 4-3 victory over Taiwan on Monday night.
Coach Cesar Mata took over for Rios.
“I was worried when I get up this morning,” Mata said. “We got the kids together and had a long talk in the dorms. They listened and they were very relaxed. I didn’t worry about it after that.”
Ballina hit a drive to right-center during Mexico’s five-run third inning. Joel Turrubiates had a tying RBI single.
Ballina also came on in relief in the fourth and allowed just one hit to pick up the save.
Curacao pitcher Christopher Koeiman allowed a hit and had five strikeouts during his first trip through the lineup, but Mexico had four consecutive hits in the third.
Uganda takes first win
The first team from Africa in the Little League World Series will go home with one win.
“This was so great,” Lugazi manager Henry Odong said after the 3-2 victory over Gresham, Ore., in a consolation game Tuesday.
Players Justine Makisimu, Ronald Olaa, Daniel Alio and Felix Enzama all said they thought they could win going into the game.
After watching Taiwan play, Odong said he impressed on the team just to make contact because “one of the biggest challenges we had was hitting.” Each team had seven hits but Uganda had four of them in the two innings it scored.
“I’m thankful we could come here,” Odong said. “This win was so great.”
Oregon broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth when Hunter Hemenway tripled down the right field line, scoring Greg Mehlhaff and Tyler Pederson, who had singled.
Lugazi tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning on consecutive singles by Alio and Enzama. Alio eventually scored on a wild pitch and Enzama on a passed ball. Uganda had runners on second and third with no outs but Mehlhaff struck out two and got the third out on a ground ball.
Uganda grabbed the lead in the fifth when Olaa singled and Alio walked. Olaa scored the winning run from second when Oregon shortstop Brett Falkner’s throw to first in an attempt to complete a double play went wild.
Alio, who struck out eight and walked two, reached his pitch count limit with one out in the sixth. After getting a second out, reliever Job Echon gave up a single but then got Ethan Marshall to line back to him to preserve the victory.
Uganda’s official series record is 1-2 but the team plans on playing more friendship games.