BANGOR, Maine — Timely hitting, excellent defense and an impressive pitching performance propelled Latin American champion Chitre Little League of Chitre, Herrera, Panama by U.S. Central champion Clear Ridge LL of Chicago 6-0 Sunday in the second game of the Senior League World Series at Mansfield Stadium.
Gertrudis Tello came through for Latin America in the Pool B contest, driving in three runs on three two-out singles while also scoring a run.
“I’m just happy to be here, it feels great to be here, and I hope I get better and better as I stay here,” Tello said. “I’m going to keep practicing batting and working with the team to just get better.”
Dominic Pilas, the starting pitcher for U.S. Central, said Latin America was the stiffest competition his team has faced.
“I’ve faced a lot of good batters before, but these players were good. They knew what they were doing,” Pilas said.
In the other Pool B game, U.S. East champ Kennett Square, Pa., beat U.S. Southwest champ Laredo, Texas, 4-1.
Edgardo Sandoval led Latin America on the mound, pitching a complete game on four hits while striking out eight and walking none.
Pilas lasted three innings, giving up three runs on five hits while walking two and striking out two for U.S. Central.
Carlos Espinoza led off the second for Latin America with a single, stole second base and moved to third on Luis Mendoza’s groundout. Rafael De Leon drove in the first run of the game with an RBI single on the next at-bat. An Abel Gallardo walk and Abel Frias hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Tello, who hit in De Leon. Gallardo scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0 at the end of the second inning.
Latin America struck again in the fourth, started by a Luis Mendoza lead-off walk. De Leon sent him to second on a bunt, and Gallardo reached base on a walk. Frias put Mendoza and De Leon on third and second with a groundout, and Tello hit a two-run bloop single into right field on the next play.
“Some of their hits, they were hits on the board but they weren’t hits to me. Some of them were bloop hits, not solid hits, but they were hits,” said U.S. Central manager Mark Robinson. “They got the hits when they needed it, that’s what baseball is all about, they got the hits when they needed them and we didn’t.”
Latin America’s level of defensive awareness showed in the fifth inning, with Matt Grzesiak on second base and Pilas on first. Latin America catcher Luis Alonso threw to first after a pitch and caught Pilas off-guard with a lead on first, the second consecutive inning in which U.S. Central failed to score after putting two men on.
Pilas paced U.S. Central with one single
“We do four to five months of practice and training. We are the champions in Panama and Latin America and we just practice and practice,” said Latin America manager Azael Dominguez.
“I thought [the team] played good, at first they were nervous but got into the game as it went on,” he added.
Tello hit a single in the bottom of the sixth inning, stole second base and scored on Sandoval’s RBI double to finish off scoring for Latin America.
Robinson said his team is not worried and is used to coming back from an opening-round loss.
“I thought the game went fine. I don’t think we got beat like [the score] says. We’ve started out [other tournaments] behind before, sometimes I think losing the first game might be better than winning because they will come out more hungry,” Robinson said.
“They’re going to get a good night’s sleep, that’s for sure,” he added.
U.S. Central faces off against U.S. Southwest representative Northside LL of Laredo, Texas, at 8 p.m. Monday while Latin America’s next contest takes place against Europe and Africa champion Emilia LL of Emilia, Italy, Wednesday at 1 p.m.
In the second Pool B game, Jake Freeman drove in two runs with two hits to help lead U.S. East by U.S. Southwest.
Andrew Jones notched the win for Kennett Square as he allowed one earned run in seven innings while scattering six hits and a walk with no strikeouts.
Ricky Villarreal had a one-run single for Laredo.