Curacao secures SLWS berth

Posted July 21, 2014, at 7:45 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A familiar entry has become the fourth team to qualify for this year’s Senior League World Series.

The Pariba Little League from Willemstad, Curacao, went undefeated in five games to win the Latin America qualifying tournament that concluded Saturday in Panama.

Curacao finished 3-0 in pool play before defeating the U.S. Virgin Islands 3-0 in Friday’s semifinals and edging Los Santos, Panama, 2-1 in Saturday’s championship game.

Curacao joins Maine District 3 champion Bangor, Asia-Pacific qualifier Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Europe-Africa winner Emilia, Italy, as teams that already have earned berths in the 10-team SLWS, which runs Aug. 10-16 at Mansfield Stadium.

Five U.S. regional champions as well as a qualifier from Canada will be determined in early August.

Curacao will compete in Pool B of the SLWS along with Italy and teams from the U.S. Central, Southwest and East. The Latin American champs will open pool play on Sunday, Aug. 10, at 2:30 p.m. against the U.S. Central winner.

This will mark Curacao’s fourth SLWS appearance since the event was moved to Bangor in 2002, but the first since 2008 when it advanced to the title game before falling to Upper Deerfield, New Jersey, 10-8.

Curacao won the inaugural SLWS held in Bangor, then returned in 2003 and reached the semifinals.

Those Curacao teams sent several players on to Major League Baseball careers including Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, Baltimore Orioles infielder Jonathan Schoop and former National League All-Star Jair Jurrjens, a pitcher recently signed by the Colorado Rockies.

Latin America annually has fielded one of the favorites in this Little League Baseball world championship tournament for 14- through 16-year-olds.

The region has produced five SLWS winners during the event’s previous 12 years in Bangor and has earned the championship banner three of the last four years — Panama in 2013, Guatemala in 2012 and Aruba in 2010. Venezuela won the 2006 SLWS crown.

The Latin America champion has advanced out of pool play and into the semifinals in 11 of the last 12 years and made two other trips to the championship game, Venezuela in 2007 and Curacao in 2008.

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