BANGOR, Maine — Holding a hard-hitting team like San Nicolas, Aruba, in check over the extent of a baseball game is an arduous challenge.
South Vineland, N.J., was up to the task for a while Thursday afternoon, but offensive trouble of its own would come back to haunt the U.S. East champs.
Latin America, however, had no such issues, as it scored nine times in the fifth inning and five more runs in the sixth to post a 14-1 Pool B victory at Mansfield Stadium.
Aruba advances to today’s semifinals while New Jersey is eliminated from advancing with the loss.
Aruba’s opponent was to be determined after Thursday’s Pool B finale between Madison, Wis., and Houston, Texas.
If Houston wins, then Aruba is the second seed in Pool B and faces Fremont, Calif., based on the head-to-head tiebreaker the Southwest champs possess, but if Madison wins, then Aruba is the top seed in Pool B and takes on Makati City, Philippines.
Held in check through 4¤ innings by South Vineland starter Andrew Biggs — Latin America left seven men on base in the first four innings — Jiandido Tromp helped get the Aruban bats cranking in a big way in the top of the fifth.
With the game scoreless and the bases loaded and one out — the out coming on a sacrifice bunt — Tromp smashed an 0-1 offering to the center-field fence for a triple to clear the bases and jumpstart a nine-run, six-hit uprising in which Aruba sent 15 batters to the plate.
“We just came here with the mindset that we were going to win, pitch good, hit it hard and score runs,” said Tromp, who drove in six runs on the afternoon.
That gave starter Singarf Loopstok plenty of breathing room, and the righthander relaxed after a shaky first inning in which he walked the first two batters, but induced a double play to quiet things down.
“After the runs came, it became easier for me to pitch, I had no problems throwing strikes,” Loopstok said through manager and interpreter Greg Manuel.
“After the umpire started calling strikes I was comfortable, then I settled down.”
Loopstok gave up one run on two hits in his five-inning outing while Shakir Arrindell pitched a perfect sixth.
Aruba brought the 10-run mercy rule into play with a five-run sixth, highlighted by Tromp’s two-run triple and RBI singles from Cedrik Sint Jago and Xander Bogaerts.
If anyone had any doubts that Aruba will be the team to beat this weekend, just ask New Jersey manager Carlos Negron.
“I can see now why they’ve been predicted to win the whole tournament, they’re an awesome team,” he said. “Aruba can hit the ball, that’s the bottom line.”
New Jersey had men in scoring position in each of the first four innings, but couldn’t do any damage.
Sint Jago and Tromp each collected three hits for Aruba, with Sint Jago scoring three runs.
Holvin Figueroa drove in South Vineland’s lone run with a fifth-inning single.