Little League World Series

Game 11: Mexico 11 vs. Europe 2

Buendia, Mexico put out Ramstein’s fire

Mexico eliminates Europe from World Series contention

Author: Teddy Cahill

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Sunday, August 22, 2010, Noon ET

HA free-swinging approach by Ramstein Air Base combined with a heavy dose of strikes from Mexico's Aldo Azael Buendia was making quick work of Sunday’s elimination game.

The Mexican starter needed to get one more out in three pitches or less to stay under the 65-pitch threshold that would allow him to be used again if his team advanced to the Pool C championship game. It seemed very possible, even likely, that Buendia would twirl a 65-pitch complete game.

When Stanford Hurley swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and popped a ball up on the infield, it appeared Buendia had found a way to do it. But shortstop Alan Alejandro Alarcon and third baseman Ricardo Puga collided and the ball fell to the Volunteer Stadium dirt.

Buendia’s complete game would officially come to a close when Tyler Hufana worked the count to 1-1 and manager Armando Rodriguez removed his starter before he had a chance to pass 65 pitches. Zain Alejandro Rios finished the game without event, and Mexico eliminated Ramstein from World Series contention with an 11-2 victory.

Rodriguez said he never thought about letting Buendia (1-0) throw more than 65 pitches.

“We need all the pitching we can get in this tournament,” Rodriguez said through interpreter Sergio Guzman. “We hope to use him in the finals.”

Buendia did a lot with his 65 pitches. He went 5 2/3 innings, striking out nine batters without issuing a walk. Ramstein did have three hits off the right-hander, including two home runs.

Assistant coach Jason Shock said he felt Buendia was hittable, like all pitchers in the tournament; his team just wasn’t able to get anything going.

“He was solid, strong and consistent,” Shock said. “It helps to have confidence in your pitcher like they have in theirs.”

Rodriguez said Buendia didn’t throw many curveballs against Ramstein. Instead, he relied on his good command to get hitters out.

“He’s got great control overall,” Rodriguez said. “He was just hitting the spots. He did a great job for us.”

Buendia’s performance allowed Mexico to feel out Ramstein starter Daniel Harrington (0-1) for a couple innings before scoring four runs in the third inning. Eduardo Mata stayed hot with an RBI single and Puga delivered a two-run home run.

Despite a solo home run by Kaleb Stokes in the bottom of the inning, Mexico never looked back. Mata would finish the game 3-for-4 with two runs and is hitting .667 in Williamsport. Enrique Penaloza hit a pair of moon shots to right center, one going all the way to the parking lot behind the stadium.

Penaloza said it was by far the longest home run of his life.

“I feel great,” he said. “I think I can even make history and break the record for the longest home run at the Little League World Series.”

The victory sends Mexico to another elimination game with the loser of tonight’s clash between Puerto Rico and Japan. Rodriguez said he will send Mata to the hill, a challenge he is looking forward to.

Ramstein, however, will not advance out of pool play for the second year in a row. Shock said he thinks the European champions put too much pressure on themselves to better represent the region after going 0-3 last year.

What did Ramstein in Sunday was their inability to get hits early in the game against Buendia.

“Their fire wasn’t there,” Shock said. “We had fire when we played Italy [in the European championships] and that’s what wins ball games. Unfortunately, their fire comes from hitting.”