Latin America opens with shutout victory
By Mark Rogoff
Venezuela head coach Alfonso Avendano
admits that overconfidence is a major problem with his Latin America
championship squad. But how could you blame them?
The Altigracia Little League All-Stars
scored 9 runs in their opening match-up against Guam, wasting no time
by putting up a 5-spot in the first frame. Then in the 6th, they
tacked on 4 more when Jimali Fermin connected for a grand slam that
landed halfway up the hill at Lamade Stadium. Final score: Venezuela
9, Guam 0.
course we were nervous,” said the humble Avendano through interpreter
Luis Sanchez. “But they’ve never played in such a beautiful place and
in front of so many people.”
After a fielding error brought home the
game’s first run, the offensive outbreak started with Edixon Martinez’
hot-shot comebacker that Guam hurler Reyn Johnson knocked down but
couldn’t make a play on. That made the score 2-0. And then with
runners on first and 2nd, Juan Rivera stepped up and cranked a 3-run,
no-doubt-abouter home run to straightaway centerfield.
“For our pitcher,
it’s common for him to have a rough first inning,” said Guam head
coach Shon Muna.
The 5-run cushion was more than enough for
Venezuela starter Angel Reverol, who went on to toss a complete-game
shutout. The righthander gave up just 3 hits, 2 of which were of the
infield variety. He struck out 9 and walked just 2 batters, both
first-inning free passes.
“I felt very good,” Reverol said.
“Getting 5 runs in the first inning makes
it a lot easier for this pitcher,” Avendano said to elaborate. “No, I
wasn’t that worried (after Reverol issued the first-inning walks)
because I’ve had these kids since they were 5 years-old. I knew it
would take a couple of innings to relax.”
Although Guam never made a real threat to
get back in the game, Reverol was helped out by defensive gems that
kept the Guam offense from starting rallies and reaching scoring
position. Reverol himself started a nifty 1-6-3 doubleplay in the 3rd.
Rightfielder Jimali Fermin an inning later threw out Alan Benavente at
first base after what everyone in the park thought was a base hit to
But back to that
confident Venezuela offense, leadoff man Jhonny Sandrea went 3-for-4
with 2 runs scored. The speedy shortstop said his job is to simply
Fermin matched Sandrea’s 3-hit effort, each reaching base safely to
propel the first- and 6th-inning rallies.
“I am very proud for making it all the way
here,” Fermin said.
Coach Muna, meanwhile, was pleased with
his team’s effort, which shut down Venezuela’s offense for the middle
4 innings. “We never let up,” he said. “We worked hard. Latin America
did a good job. We just got beat today. You expect the best (here).”