BANGOR, Maine — One of the more bizarre games in Senior League World Series semifinal history ended with Chitre, Panama, outlasting Martinez, Ga., 5-4 in 12 innings Friday but losing two coaches and two players in the process.
The Latin American representatives now advance to Saturday’s 2 p.m. world championship game at Mansfield Stadium against Kennett Square, Pa., a 9-4 winner over Pearl City, Hawaii, in the first semifinal.
But they will do so shorthanded.
Manager Azael Dominguez Dominguez and catcher Luis Alonso were ejected in the first inning after Alonso was found to be using an illegal bat.
Coach Oscar Guardia Baule and second baseman Gertrudis Tello were ejected in the 11th inning after Tello spiked Georgia first baseman Wilfredo Colon-Rios’ ankle with what was ruled as malicious intent while trying to beat out a ground ball.
Under Little League rules, players and coaches who are ejected from a game also are ineligible to play in their team’s next game.
“It’s going to be hard,” said Jorge Luis Cedeno, the remaining coach on the Panama staff, through interpreter Veronica Mendez. “It’s going to be hard, but I have faith in the team, I have faith in the players.”
The end of the semifinal came suddenly, with two Panamanian runners scoring on the same wild pitch with two out in the bottom of the 12th.
Edgardo Sandoval singled and Javier Garcia walked to open the inning, then each moved up a base on Carlos Espinosa’s third sacrifice bunt in five innings.
After backup catcher Jose Lopez popped out, a 2-0 pitch by Georgia reliever Jesse Iberra went in the dirt and to the backstop, allowing special pinch runner Jair Tello to score from third and Garcia to race home from second with the winning run when the throw back to the plate went awry.
Panama took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first and nursed a narrow edge until Georgia scored a single run in the fifth and tied the game after being down to its last strike with two outs in the top of the seventh when Kyle Cartledge singled home Jose Nogueras.
Georgia took its first lead in the top of the ninth when a sacrifice fly by Brandon Hensley plated Isaiah Davila, who led off the inning with a single and reached third as the U.S. Southeast champions loaded the bases with one out.
But Panama answered in the bottom of the inning when Abel Frias doubled home Luis Mendoza to forge a 3-3 tie.
Georgia regained the lead in the top of the 12th when a bases-loaded walk to Elliott Melton scored Kevin Hyatt.
The Georgia squad ultimately was undone by stranding 17 runners on the basepaths.
“You play baseball because you want to have fun, and the last 4 1/2 hours were a thrill ride,” said Georgia manager Matt Brosious. “We thought we had it lost in the seventh and we come through, and then we thought we had it won and some things happened, but overall, just to be part of this game was special, to be sure.”
Melton and Davila each had three singles for Georgia while Hensley contributed two singles.
Garcia had a double and three singles for Panama while Frias singled to go with his double.
In the first semifinal, Chris Tucker’s three-run triple capped off a five-run rally in the top of the seventh inning Friday that provided Kennett Square, Pa., the insurance it needed to defeat Pearl City, Hawaii.
“The magic of it is to put the ball in play and things happen,” said Pennsylvania manager Todd Duerr. “That’s what our offense has done all along.”
Pearl City had rallied from a 4-0 first-inning deficit to within 4-3 with two runs in the fourth inning and another run in the fifth.
But three straight singles after two were out in the Kennett Square seventh were followed by an infield error that allowed two runs to score. After a walk to Dan Garver, Tucker blasted the seventh pitch he saw in the at-bat over the head of Hawaiian outfielder Nicholas Au to drive home three runs and give the U.S. East champs a 9-3 lead.
It was a long-awaited hit for Tucker, who had been struggling offensively, hadn’t batted in a game for more than three weeks and had been robbed of hits twice earlier in the game when Au made diving catches in center field.
“I was pretty [peeved] after the first two at-bats because the center fielder kept on snagging them,” said Tucker. “I just tried to stay calm.
“With that at-bat the umpire actually told me to stop fouling them off because he was running out of balls. I knew the curve was coming because he had kept throwing me fastballs, so I just stayed in there.”
Pearl City countered with a run in the bottom of the seventh before Alex Pechin came on in relief of starter Andrew Jones — who left after reaching the 95-pitch limit — and recorded the game-ending strikeout.
Jones got the win, scattering 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings while striking out two batters and walking no one. The righthander mixed his pitches effectively, both with velocity and location.
“The Hawaiian team was crowding the plate, and every fastball I threw on the outside corner they would step almost on the line, so whenever I threw a curve on the inside they would back off and they wouldn’t be ready for the break,” Jones said.
“Every once in a while I’d throw a fastball on inside corner so they’d have to open their hips, and that just helped give me the outside corner,” he added.
Tucker Reese, Jake Freeman and Dan Garver each added two hits to the Kings’ 12-hit offense, while Colby Hirano and Sanyo Lo each singled twice for Hawaii.