Little League World Series

Game B: Latin America 4 vs. Canada 2

Defense Makes the Difference

Chitre, Panama flips the script in rematch with Vancouver, British Columbia

Author: Mark Price

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 12:00pm ET

Same field, same teams. Different day, different result.

Four days after Canada's 4-2 win over Panama in the Pool D opener at Volunteer Stadium, the two teams were at it again. This time, in an elimination game, it was Panama that came away with a 4-2 victory.

Panama (2-1) advances to face Chinese Taipei Wednesday at 6 p.m., when it hopes to give the Asia-Pacific champs their first loss of the 2010 Little League World Series and force a win-or-go-home Pool D championship game.

The pitcher's duel was swung Panama's way as Canada committed costly errors in the third and fourth innings.

"Two evenly matched teams," said Canada Manager Pat Chaba. "I thought the Latin American kids really came ready to play. We played pretty solid defense, but in the end we made a couple errors, and that kind of tipped the ball game."

With a 1-1 score, the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the third inning, Canada catcher Matthew Reyes dropped a throw from third baseman Kristofer De Guzman to allow a run for the Latin America champs. Starting pitcher Lichel Hirakawa-Kao worked his way out of the jam but fell victim to similar troubles in the fourth.

With a runner on first in the bottom of the fourth, Panama pinch hitter Arnulfo Quintero laid down a bunt that De Guzman threw past the second baseman. With the right fielder backing up first base, the ball lay in the outfield long enough for both Panama runners to round the bases and extend the lead to 4-1.

Panama had struck first in the game, as Rafael DeLeon blasted a solo home run to center field in the bottom of the first to give Panama a 1-0 lead.

Canada responded when Zach Chaba led off the third inning with a towering home run to right-center field, tying the score at 1-1. According to his dad (Manager Chaba), it was Zach's second Little League home run ever, his last coming in the Canadian national championships.

Canada leadoff man Lucas Soper manufactured a run in the top off the sixth to bring his team to within two, tripling to start things off and advancing home on a wild pitch. His efforts were not enough, as Panama starter Luis Bazan finished the game by fanning three straight hitters.
Bazan allowed two runs on four hits while striking out nine in his complete-game effort.

Panama will face a Chinese Taipei team that has outscored its opponents 41-0 in two games at the Little League World Series. The Panamanians are ready to rumble.

"We're excited and looking forward to playing Taiwan," said Panama Manager Cristobal Salerno. "In fact, the starting pitcher has asked for the ball for that game two games ago."

Salerno kept his ace in the hole, not revealing the identity of the pitcher who will take the mound Wednesday.

Canada, meanwhile, will stay through Sunday night's championship game.

"Williamsport is Disneyland for baseball," said manager Chaba. "We're gonna soak up every inch of it."

Chaba hopes the boys from Little Mountain Little League can pick up an exhibition game later in the week but plans to have fun with his team either way.

"I'm not leaving here until they make me," he said.