Game 27
 vs. Caribbean

Thursday, August 25, 2005
3:00PM ET
Lamade Stadium

Bring on Japan!
Curacao beats Guam in semifinal to earn fifth straight trip to International Championship

By Mark Rogoff

The Curacao of old showed up at just the right time, precisely the right time.

The Caribbean champs had scored just eight runs in their three pool play games, which included a 5-4 win over Venezuela, a 9-0 loss to Japan and a 3-0 victory over Saudi Arabia. They had hit only .182 as a team.

“Yes, I was very concerned about our low run total,” he said through interpreter Alecto Nicolaas. “But I was very confident going into today’s game. The difference was that over the last two days we did live pitching (as opposed to a pitching machine). And I talked a lot to the players to keep them focused for the game.”

It paid off, to say the least.

The Curacao kids busted out for 16 runs on 13 hits in a 16-1 mercy-rule triumph over Guam before 7,400 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium, earning a spot in Saturday’s International Championship game against Japan. The appearance marks the fifth straight for a team from Curacao, the third in a row by a Pabao squad.

The 16-run outburst is the highest single-game run total by any Curacao team in six years at the World Series (1980 and every year since 2001). It is also the most runs scored by a team in the 2005 tournament, edging Newtown’s 15-run output vs. Davenport. The team went 13-for-27 (.481) vs. Guam after going just 12-for-66 in its first three games.

“I know my team, and I expected the team to explode at any time,” Isabella said.

Curacao scored 11 runs in the fifth inning alone. Ahead 5-1 through four innings, the Caribbean champs turned it on by sending 15 hitters to the plate in the seven-hit and five-walk inning.

Sorick Liberia knocked in the first run with a single that scored Jurickson Profar, who had worked a one-out walk and advanced to third on a pickoff attempt at first base. Alexander Rodriguez stroked a two-run single three batters later. Willie Rifaela then smashed a three-run homer to give his mates a 10-run lead at 11-1.

Profar added a two-run single later in the inning.

Rodriguez, who was hitless in three at-bats going into the game, started the scoring in the second. Pinch hitting for Rylan Reina, Rodriguez connected for a two-run single for the start of his 2-for-3, four-RBI day.

“I wanted a left-handed batter who can go to all fields,” Isabella responded when asked about the early pinch hitting appearance.

Not to go unnoticed was the pitching of Christopher Garia, who tossed four hitless innings before allowing a leadoff double to Alomar Rdialul in the fifth. He was chased a walk and a hit later with two outs in the inning.

“I felt very good,” Garia said of his outing through Nicolaas.

“I tried to throw an outside fastball but I threw it over the middle of the plate,” he said of the double that broke up the no-hit bid.

Garia allowed one run on two hits and a pair of walks in 4.2 innings. He fanned nine, including five straight beginning with the final out of the first inning.

Guam skipper Shon Muna credited the Curacao team as having “really well-focused kids.” His squad just couldn’t keep up with the focused Curacao bunch, especially during the 10-run barrage.

During the inning, he told his team, “We’ve made it this far. It’s an honor to be here. It’s the farthest (Guam) has gone. Let’s make the most of it.”

Muna simply was reiterating what he said to them prior to the game.

“I told them to go have fun, but I that didn’t start until the (bottom of the) fifth inning when they started hitting the ball,” he said.

With runners on second and third, Isabella summoned Profar to get close it out. The righthander, who is the likely starter against Japan in Saturday’s international finale, struck out Gerald Borja on three pitches to end it.

Game Photos

2005, Little League Baseball Incorporated
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