May 24, 2018
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Panama pitchers combine to shut out Europe-Africa in Senior League World Series

By Joe Sturzl, Special to the BDN

BANGOR, Maine — Javier Garcia and Francisco Perez combined to one-hit Europe-Africa champion Emilia, Italy, Tuesday at Mansfield Stadium to help Latin American champion Chitre, Herrera, Panama, to a 3-0 victory on Day Three of the Senior League World Series.

Europe-Africa baserunners reached third base in the second, third and fourth innings but could not get a hit to score.

“It was more disappointing not to get hits, we only had one hit. Not getting to home plate after getting to third, that’s just part of the game,” said Europe-Africa manager Stefano Chiuri.

“Yesterday our heads and bats were plugged, today our heads were not and the bats were,” he added.

Latin America improves to 2-0 in Pool B play while Europe-Africa falls to 0-2.

Garcia pitched four scoreless innings, giving up one hit while walking two and striking out seven. Perez finished the final three innings without allowing a run or hit with one walk and two strikeouts.

The two Garcia walks came back-to-back with two outs in the second inning to Gian Marco Pizzurro and Luca Tesseli, and a passed ball advanced them each one base. Garcia got out of the jam when Davide Azzali grounded out.

Edgordo Sandoval singled in the top of the third for Latin America, followed by a Garcia double to place runners on second and third.

Carlos Espinosa then hit a one-out foul fly ball deep to left field where Azzali decided to let the ball drop foul instead of catching it for a second out, in which case Sandoval likely would have scored due to how deep Espinosa hit the ball.

“He intentionally did that. He decided not to let the run score. It’s a choice, you can be wrong or right,” Chiuri said.

It looked like the right decision after Espinosa grounded out, but runners still remained on second and third.

After the Espinosa groundout, Europe-Africa replaced starting pitcher Matteo Borchi with Alessandro Gianobi.

“The decision was made only on the fact that we are only here with two starting pitchers. We used one yesterday and one today and we don’t want to burn him,” Chiuri said. “We didn’t bring two of our other starting pitchers, one is injured, the other is here in America to study. They all are very good quality pitchers.”

Jair Tello pinch-ran for Garcia, and Luis Alonso hit a two-out, two-RBI single to put Latin America on the board.

“It felt good. It was tough at the beginning because we weren’t comfortable, we were nervous. But as that at-bat came, I became more comfortable and calmed down and said, ‘I can do this,’” Alonso said.

Alonso moved to second base on a balk and Perez drove him in with a single to make the score 3-0.

Alonso paced Latin America with two singles and two RBI.

Alberto Fossa recorded the only hit of the day for Europe-Africa, hitting a double in the bottom of the fourth inning. Fossa reached third on a passed ball, but Garcia proceeded to strike out the next two batters and got Tesseli to ground out to get out of the inning.

Catillo Tanera replaced Gianobi after the fourth and shut out Latin America for the rest of the game. Catillo pitched three innings, facing nine batters and retiring them all, including one strikeout and a three-pitch seventh inning.

Alonso says the team will not bring the cold streak into the next game.

“It was a mistake the way we played, and that is definitely not going to happen again,” he said.

Latin America manager Azael Dominguez says his team will play better but believes what happens to them is out of their control.

“It’s going to be a game, but it’s up to God. He gives us things everyday but at the end of the day it’s up to him,” Dominguez said.

Chiuri only had one word for his team’s plan going into their game Wednesday: “Win.”

Europe-Africa takes on U.S. Southwest champion Northside Little League of Laredo, Texas, at 10 a.m. Wednesday while Latin America plays the nightcap against U.S. East champion Kennett Square, Pa., at 8 p.m.

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