BANGOR, Maine — West University lefty Joe Gobillot’s grandfather, Bob Aurey, has a house on Belgrade Lakes, and he and his family visit him every year.
But this visit to Maine was even more special.
Gobillot pitched 5 1/3 innings of four-hit, four-run baseball, and Jimmy Winston came on to get the final five outs as the team from Houston, Texas, beat Willemstad, Curacao, 7-4 for the Senior League World Series championship before a sizeable crowd at Mansfield Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It was West University’s first title since 2009 and prevented a Latin American champion from making it three SLWS crowns in a row and four in five years.
Chitre, Panama won last year’s championship and Guatemala City, Guatemala captured the 2012 SLWS. San Nicolas, Aruba won it in 2010. Hilo, Hawaii was the 2011 victor.
The 6-foot-5, 180-pound Gobillot struck out six and walked four and his mates staked him to a 6-1 lead after two innings. He threw 89 pitches, 52 for strikes. One of the runs was unearned.
Winston allowed two hits over over 1 2/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and no walks.
“My two-seam fastball was working really well. I felt like I was throwing hard although I don’t know if I was. I felt good out there. I painted the outside corner with my fastball and that was really important to set up my other pitches,” said Gobillot. “My curve worked well and my changeup worked really well, too. And the defense played real well behind me. That helped a lot, too. ”
Houston played errorless ball for the fourth time in their six games while Curacao uncharacteristically made four errors leading to five unearned runs.
Gobillot retired the first three hitters he faced in the first inning and that combined with the two runs Houston scored in the bottom of the first to give his team momentum, he said.
Texas took a lead it would never relinquish in that first inning when Winston grounded an opposite-field single to right, Carson Maxwell was hit by a pitch and John Doxakis belted a long-two run double to left.
“He started off our three-hole (hitter) with a fastball so I thought he would throw me a fastball and that’s what I got, a fastball middle (of the plate) in and I hit it,” said Doxakis who felt it was “huge” to jump in front.
“The last time we played, they got the lead and the momentum went to them,” said Doxakis, referring to the 4-2 loss in the final game in pool play. Curacao had built a 4-0 lead.
“We wanted a crack at those guys,” said Texas manager Clint Sauls. “They’re the only team that beat us all summer. We didn’t want to take the easy route to the championship. We wanted to go through those guys. It felt good.”
A walk, Swindly Lint’s base hit and two wild pitches produced a run for Curacao in the second inning, but Texas answered with four in the bottom of the second.
Aaron Cranfield was hit by a pitch with one out and was running on the pitch when Julian Cranfield hit a slow roller that went under the charging shortstop’s glove for an error.
Winston singled in Aaron Cransfield for his fifth hit in his last six at-bats. One out later, Doxakis reached on an infield single off pitcher Mairion Brunken’s glove to load the bases. A balk plated the second run, Jacob Millender’s infield single into the shortstop hole drove in another and a wild pitch allowed the fourth run of the inning to score.
Singles by Maxwell and Millender and a first baseman’s error delivered a fourth-inning run.
Curacao rallied for three runs in the sixth to make things interesting.
Joshmar Doran grounded a leadoff single up the middle and Raysheandall Michel walked.
One out later, Doran broke for third and the lefthanded hitting Rodolfo Rodriguez punched an RBI single through the hole vacated by third baseman Maxwell, who went over to cover the bag.
Winston came in to pitch from his shortstop position and the runners moved up on a passed ball.
He struck out the first hitter he faced for the second out before Zaino Henriquez hit a fly ball into shallow left that dropped between three fielders for a two-run single. Jerson Dometilia singled to bring the tying run to the plate but Winston struck out the next hitter to end the threat.
He retired the side in the seventh on two grounders to second and a strikeout.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking coming in,” said Winston. “But I wanted to close the game. I was very excited.
“To strike out that last guy was the best feeling ever. It was crazy out there,” said Winston.
Winston, Doxakis and Millender each had two hits for the U.S. Southwest champs.
Righty Brunken pitched well in defeat, allowing five hits and just two earned runs among the seven through 5 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and one walk. Geedion Jakob finished up for Curacao, going 2/3 of an inning with one strikeout and no hits or runs allowed.
Curacao players and coaches elected not to speak to the media after the game.