Game 5
5 vs. Mexico 2
Saturday, August 21, 2004
2:30PM ET

Pineda pitches, powers Curacao
Caribbean pitcher tosses two-hitter, homers to help edge Mexico

By Mike Lipka

If you had come to South Williamsport looking for pitching, the first three games might have sent you running for cover from the steady rain of home-run balls.

But Curacao’s Carlos Pineda will make a compromise with you – he’ll give you the pitching, as long as you let him have his fun with the long ball.

Pineda did his damage in the first with a towering three-run home run to right-center, then made sure it would stand up by tossing 5 2/3 innings of two-hit ball to give his Caribbean team a narrow 3-2 win over Guadalupe, Mexico in a Pool D opener before 4,400 at Volunteer Stadium.

“I was waiting for the curveball [on the home run],” Pineda said through his coach, Michelangelo Celestina. “I was confident [it would stand up].”

In a game that only featured two hits per team, Pineda was just a little bit better than Mexico starter Walter Montemayor. The big 13-year-old from Curacao struck out nine before giving way to Jurickson Profar with two outs and two men on in the sixth. Profar walked the bases loaded before turning it up a notch to get the game-ending strikeout and the save.

“I was not nervous,” Profar said through Celestina.

“He came in the same situation when we were in Aruba,” Celestina added. “We were confident he could do it.”

What was also the first close game of the World Series featured a trio of hard-throwing pitchers, whom both coaches said helped carry their teams to this point. Montemayor did not give up a hit after the first inning, baffling Curacao’s hitters while striking out eight.

“He tried to not throw as many curves [after the first],” said Mexico manager Gerardo Leal through translator Micah Hughes. “In the first inning, the pitches they were successful on were curveballs.”

Pineda didn’t have such problems early. Through the first three, he was almost untouchable, throwing 30 of his 43 pitches for strikes and only allowing one baserunner (a third-inning walk) while striking out five.

“He had a good fastball,” Leal said. “And he was tall.”

The 5-foot-10-inch righty also had the benefit of some outstanding defense, most notably a diving catch by center fielder Curtney Doran in the first inning.

“When the ball comes to me, that ball cannot touch the ground,” Doran said through Celestina. “When I can’t get it, I will dive for it.”

Pineda ran into trouble in the fourth, when Alan Camarillo led off with an infield hit and reached second when he beat out a fielder’s choice attempt on Oscar Garza’s grounder. Pineda then walked Victor Gonzalez to load the bases with one out, setting the stage for two runs to score on Jose Gonzalez’s walk and a wild pitch.

“That inning, I was not concentrating at all,” Pineda said. “That’s why I was a little bit wild.”

It happened again in the sixth when he allowed a double to Montemayor and walked Ricardo Barragan, but Profar came in to put out the fire.

“We came here with strong pitching and strong defense,” Celestina said. “The next two games, we’re going to play the same strong pitching and defense and try to hit some more balls and get some more runs in.”

The only inning they hit Saturday was in the first, when Ryandel Walter smoked a leadoff single and Jonathan Schoop was hit by a pitch before Pineda’s blast. Schoop, Curacao’s shortstop and No. 3 hitter, injured his forearm when he was hit and had to leave the game, but the team hopes he can return in time for its next game Monday against the Transatlantic team at 5 p.m. at Lamade Stadium.

Meanwhile, Mexico gets another shot at the win column Sunday against Transatlantic (7 p.m., Volunteer).

“There is a little more tension in the air because it’s the first game,” Leal said. “I think they’re going be a little bit more accustomed for the next game, a little bit more relaxed.”

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Photography by Caroline Connolley

© 2004 Little League Baseball Incorporated