Game 15
 vs. Caribbean 8

Monday, August 21, 2006
11:00AM ET

Magnificent Manuela
Manuela and Curacao Eliminate Russia with Two-Hit Shutout

By Brandon Miller
Special Correspondent

Play at the Little League Baseball World Series continued Monday with the Caribbean Region Champion Pabao Little League defeating the EMEA Region winner Brateevo Little League, 8-0, at Lamade Stadium.

The Curacao Little Leaguers pounded out eight runs on nine hits while pitcher Dienston Manuela limited Russia to only four base runners the entire game. The win by Curacao eliminated Russia from the tournament and kept alive their hopes of advancing to bracket play.

“We have to beat Japan tomorrow and allow no runs to be in the playoffs if Mexico loses,” said Curacao manager Michelangelo Celestina. “We like the system we’re playing right now, especially the defense.”

Pitching led the way for Curacao as Manuela struck out 12 while throwing a two-hit shutout.

The most trouble that Manuela faced came in the fourth. Russian shortstop Viktor Elkin hit a line drive to deep centerfield that tipped off the outstretched glove of Vincent Anthonia for a double, the first hit of the game for Russia. Elkin advanced to third on a sacrifice fly, but was stranded there when Manuela came back to strike out the next two batters.

“I pitched good,” said Manuela. “I threw my fastball good and my curveball was breaking good.”

“(Manuela) had a very good performance today. He wasn’t the best we faced, but he pitched good,” said Brateevo coach Andrey Tselykovski.

Curacao played small ball in the second after Den-Je-Rick Virginie led off the inning with a hit to left field that he was able to stretch into a double. Patrick Llewellyn then demonstrated the fundamentals of the game by bunting Virginie to third.

Next up was Manuela who drove the ball towards the gap in right-center field, but centerfielder Andrey Vesenev made a sliding catch to record the out. Tagging on the play was Virginie to give Curacao an early 1-0 lead, which was all the run support Manuela would need.

Leading the offense for Curacao was Alexander Rodriguez, who went 3-4 with two doubles and an RBI, and Sherman Lacrus who drove in two runs while going 1-4 from the plate.

“We talked to (the kids) the last few days and we motivated them just to play the game and have fun,” said manager Celestina. “We wanted to take all the pressure off them.”

The highlight of the game came in the top of the first inning. With a grab worthy of making ESPN’s ‘top ten’ plays of the day, Brateevo left fielder Alexey Lavrinovich raced back to the wall on a towering shot by Lacrus, meeting the wall as the ball met his glove, robbing Lacrus of a solo shot and an early lead for Curacao.

That wasn’t the end of Lacrus’ display of power. In the third, Lacrus hit a ball that landed foul in the trees beyond the left field grandstands at Lamade; a ball that easily traveled 300 feet. The at-bat ended with Lacrus hitting a major league pop-up that was caught by the leftfielder just shy of the warning track.

Although the Brateevo All-Stars will not be advancing in the tournament, the trip to South Williamsport was not entirely a loss.

“(The kids) have the best experience of their life here,” said coach Tselykovski. “Guys that have played here before on the Russian team now are on the under-21 team and under-18 year old team. They are the leaders.”

Even though his team was outscored 30-1 in the three games they played, coach Tselykovski said, “It’s ok, we get the experience. That’s what we came here for, to see good pitching and good players. We try to get the experience and have fun.”

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