Game 20
3 vs. Pacific 0
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
11:00AM ET

Curacao captures top seed
Pabao Little League capitalizes on untimely Saipan mistakes to extend LLWS winning streak to three-games

By David Graham-Caso

The Pabao Little League fro Willemstad, Curacao came into its Tuesday morning game against the Saipan Little League exuding confidence. The Caribbean Regional Champions’ high spirits were justified: no matter what happened in the game, they would advance to the single elimination round as the first place team in pool D.

“We did not even tell the kids that we had already qualified,” said Curacao manager Vernon Isabella though interpreter Carlos Pagan. “We play each game like it is important to win.”

Curacao (3-0) defeated Saipan (0-3) 3-0 in front of 4,900 at Lamade Staduim Tuesday.

Saipan’s offense was knocking on the door all game, but could not put together a series of hits and get a runner home. Despite mustering six base knocks, the Saipan squad was shut out by Curacao hurler Dimitri Eugenia.

With the help of flawless defense, Eugenia did not allow a Saipan runner past second base.

“Our defense has always been a strong part of our team,” Isabella said. “We expect to have good defense like that. It is rare if we make an error.”

Eugenia’s Saipan counterpart, Antonio Rogolifoi Jr. also pitched a gem, even though he got the loss. Rogolifoi was victimized by untimely mistakes by his defense. The first run that the starter allowed came home when centerfielder Anthony Tenorio dropped a fly ball with a runner on third. The pop up would have been the final out of second inning.

“Antonio has talent,” said Saipan manager Anthony Benavente. “He has a good release and good speed, he was just unlucky today.”

Curacao recorded their second run of the game in the third inning. After belting a triple to right, Ryandel Walter was plated on a ground out by Sorick Liberia.

Rogolifoi Jr.’s one mistake came in the form of a fastball to Curacao slugger Carlos Pineda. Pineda, already 2-for-2 on the day, hammered the Rogolifoi Jr. offering beyond the left-center field wall, tacking on an insurance run for his team in the top of the sixth inning.

“(Rogolifio Jr.) threw a curve ball that he was hoping the hitter would chase,” Benavente said. “The kid made contact and that was that.”

With its perfect 3-0 record in pool play, Curacao next advances to the International semifinal to face either Taiwan or Panama. Isabella is optimistic about his team’s next game.

“We have momentum now,” he said. “A lot of teams can get a lot of hits, but you need clutch hitting to win. That is what we have, clutch hitting.”

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© 2004 Little League Baseball Incorporated