Venezuela Waits for Win
Rain Suspended Game Ends
With Single from Valera
By Brandon Miller
having to wait an entire extra day, Pool C play continued its rain
suspended game at Little League Volunteer Stadium as the Cardenales
Little League team from Barquisimeto, Venezuela defeated the Saipan
Little League team from Saipan, CNMI 1-0 in eight innings.
The game, which originally began after an hour rain delay, started
at 7:00PM on Saturday evening and was suspended after seven and a
half innings of shutout baseball, forcing the Latin American
All-Stars to wait until Monday morning to take their cuts at the
plate in the bottom of the eighth.
In somewhat of an anti-climatic finish, it took only four batters
for Cardenales to push across the winning run, ending the game nine minutes after it started again.
With one out, Jordy Freitez drew a walk. A strikeout later and
Freitez was able to advance on a pass ball, putting the winning run
on second base with two outs. Roberto Valera did not disappoint as he
sent a grounder up the middle to score Freitez and end the game.
“I’m very happy because I got the hit to end the game,” said Valera
through interpreter Luis Sanchez.
For Venezuela, the win was their first completed game of the
tournament, and eased some of the angst in the clubhouse knowing
that every other team had played at least one game, some teams
already completing two.
“We were somewhat anxious because we had a 0-0 record, but we were
calm,” said Cardenales manager Domingo Carrasquel through
On their off day,
the Latin American All-Stars tried to relax by doing a little
shopping at the Lycoming Mall after a good batting practice session
earlier in the day.
“The delay really didn’t affect us that much because we came here to
win,” said manager Carrasquel through interpreter Sanchez.
A game that included 31 strikeouts between the two teams involved,
almost witnessed Little League Baseball history as Cardenales
starter Manuel Barrios struck out 16 batters in six innings, two shy
of tying the record held by Chao-An Chen from Chinese Taipei and
Kalen Pimentel from California.
In picking up the win in relief, pitcher Alexander Ramirez, through
interpreter Sanchez, said, “I feel very happy not only for myself,
but also for my teammate Manuel who pitched a good game. Now we can
go out and finish the job ahead of us, that is to win.”
It was clear something special was going to happen when the game
began with Barrios striking out the side.
“I generally strike out everyone, but what I care about is to win,
and win the Championship for Venezuela” said Barrios through
Not to be outdone on the mound, Saipan pitcher Harry Nakamura shut
down Latin America to the tune of only two hits while striking out
eight in his six innings of work.
With offense clearly hard to come by, any way to scrape together a
run would be critical. With a runner on third in the bottom of the
first inning, Saipan first baseman Richard Dela Cruz made a great
scoop on a throw in the dirt from shortstop Peter Tenorio to end the
inning, stranding a runner at third. It was an early scoring
opportunity for Latin America wasted in what proved to be a great
What looked to be the first breaks of the game came for Saipan in
the fourth. After the first two batters struck out, Anthony Salas
hit a grounder between shortstop and third-base that glanced off the
third-baseman’s glove and allowed the runner to reach base with the
first hit of the game.
The next batter, Rocco Reyes, hit a grounder to first that hit the
bag and popped over first-baseman Jose Martinez’s head for a base
hit. Bearing down to ensure that Saipan didn’t push across a run,
Barrios blazed a fastball across the plate and caught Anthony Manalo
looking to retire the side and preserve the 0-0 tie.
Perhaps energized after giving up his first hit of the game, Barrios
promptly led off the bottom of the fourth with a solid single down
the left-field line. A walk to Roberto Valera put runners on first
and second with nobody out and Latin America in the driver’s seat to
potentially score the first runs of the game.
However, Nakamura would not back down. After Robert Guedez struck
out failing to execute a sacrifice bunt attempt, Saipan right
fielder Charito Kladikm made a great running catch in the gap in
right-center field, and Nakamura got Gianfranco Presenza to ground
out to shortstop to end the threat.
“I give a lot of credit to (Nakamura),” said manager Carrasquel.
The top of the sixth began with Saipan’s Rocky Matagolai taking a
Barrios fastball in the side sending him to first base. After being
replaced by special pinch runner McGarrette Duenas, Tenorio placed a
perfect bunt in between the pitcher and catcher and was able to
reach first without a throw. Again, seemingly energized by the
threat, Barrios quickly came back and struck out the side to leave
two runners stranded.
Under the oncoming rain in the eighth, Latin America centerfielder
Freitez made a sliding catch on a ball hit by Tenorio, coming up
with his fist pumped as he hustled back to the dugout.
Unfortunately, the rain was too much and the grounds-crew pulled the
tarp over the field, forcing Latin America to wait until Monday to
complete the game.
Saipan manager Roy Sablan declined comment after the game.
© 2006, Little League Baseball
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