Game 27
International Semi-Final

Mexico 6
 vs. Latin America 2
Thursday, August 26, 2004
4:00PM ET

Alán game, a very long game
Mexico outlasts Panama to earn spot in International Championship

By Mark Rogoff

It’s always nice to see the catcher be the hero in a baseball game, especially after squatting behind the plate for more than the regularly scheduled six innings.

Alán Camarillo worked long and hard for nine frames, trying to keep the swelling down on his left hand after being on the receiving end of 22 strikeouts from hurlers Walter Montemayor and Oscar Garza. Not only that, he was just 1-for-4 with two strikeouts at the plate before coming to bat in the top half of the tenth.

And when he did, KAPOW!

Camarillo cracked a two-out, three-run homer and Oscar Garza worked out of trouble in the bottom of the tenth in his fourth inning of relief as Mexico earned a spot in Saturday’s International Championship with a 6-2 win over Panama at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.

Garza struck out 11 of the 14 batters he faced, including the side in the eighth, ninth and tenth innings. He had walked two in the tenth before settling down to notch three straight punchouts.

The game went on for a World Series record three hours and 49 minutes, outlasting Toms River, New Jersey’s epic 13-9 win over Jenison, Michigan in three hours, 11 minutes.

“It feels great,” Camarillo said of his catching efforts through interpreter Micah Hughes. “I wasn’t really tired from anything. I know they are two great pitchers. It was awesome.”

As for his game-winning home run, which he said was the biggest long ball of his young baseball career: “I wasn’t doing well this game and was under pressure because of that, but I got a fastball and I hit it.”

Mexico couldn’t hold on to a 2-0 lead in the sixth as Panama scored a pair of runs off starter Walter Montemayor in a spirited comeback effort to knot the score at 2-2.

Eduardo Fruto led off the inning with an infield single and Mario Gonzalez then knocked him in with a triple down the right field line. A strikeout later, Christian Bethancourt tapped one to Montemayor who threw home to get a hustling Gonzalez out at the plate.

That set the stage for Jose Murllio, who with two outs and his Mexico squad down to its last strike, stroked a 2-2 pitch down the left field line for a double that scored Christian Bethancourt all the way from first for the tying run.

“It was a big hit to our confidence,” Leal said. “It hurt, but we kept them up and battled back and won the game.”

Montemayor, who was the losing pitcher in Mexico’s 3-2 loss to Curacao Saturday, was perfect through three and two-thirds, striking out nine of those first 11 batters, including the side in the second and third innings.

He allowed a hard-hit single through the right side to Mario Gonzalez with two outs in the fourth before fanning Sergio Rivera to end the frame.

“I started out a little nervous,” Montemayor said through Hughes. “But when I got my first strikeout [the second batter of the game] I got confidence.”

Mexico strung together a two-out rally in the third to take a 1-0 lead. With Alexis Alanis on first, Ismael Garcia stroked his second double of the game to right-center field, which advanced Alanis to third. Montemayor then hit an infield chopper to the left side between three infielders and beat the throw to first as Alanis crossed the plate.

Mexico made it 2-0 in the fifth. Oscar Garza led off the inning by working a base on balls, and then advanced to second on Alan Camarillo’s sacrifice bunt. Alexis Martinez and his coaches elected to intentionally walk Garcia to get to Montemayor, who smashed a comebacker to Martinez that he knocked down but could not handle. That loaded the bases for Victor Gonzalez, blooped one into center field to knock in Garza from third.

Martinez struck out Ricardo Barragan and Israel Castro to end the threat.

“I’m very happy with the way the kids played,” said Panama manager Carlos Mosquera through Hughes. “They tried their best. Mexico had two great pitchers. They were well rested. Good pitching always eats good hitting.””

Click here for box scores

© 2004 Little League Baseball Incorporated