Panama opened play at the 2013 Little League World Series from Williamsport, Penn., on Thursday with a 9-4 victory over Puerto Rico.
Panama took an early lead in the tournament opener when Daniel Fernandez scored on a wild pitch. The team extended its advantage in the second inning with a five-run outburst. The inning was highlighted by a two-run triple by Armando Lopez and a two-run home run by Fernandez.
Puerto Rico got on the board in the top of the fourth inning when Pedro Aponte hit a two-run single up the middle. The play didn’t end when he got to first base, though, as the Puerto Ricans tried to catch Panama sleeping and sent a runner to third. The throw from home went high and another run came in to score.
Despite giving up four runs in the fourth, Panama responded well, scoring two more runs in the bottom half of the frame and an insurance run in the fifth. Puerto Rico couldn’t push any more runs across the plate and the Panamanians secured their spot in the International winner’s bracket with a 9-4 win.
Crisp was arguably the player of the game, as he went 2-for-3 with a tape-measure two-run home run, which came in the fourth inning. Juan Mar Sanchez was effective on the mound for Panama, allowing four runs in four innings while striking out eight. The pitching for Puerto Rico wasn’t bad either.
Robert Addarich struggled early for Puerto Rico, yielding four runs in just 1.1 innings, but Braulio Flores did a remarkable job in relief. Flores did allow five runs to score in 3.2 innings, but he struck out 12 batters without issuing a free pass. He even struck out four batters in an inning twice—which is possible due to wild pitches.
Unfortunately for Flores, his team’s offense couldn’t score enough runs and Puerto Rico is now one loss from being eliminated.
Northwest Takes Down Southwest, 8-4
Washington sent Texas to the loser’s bracket on Thursday afternoon, as the Northwest defeated the Southwest by a score of 8-4.
Washington got the scoring started early from Lamade Stadium, plating four runs in the top of the first. Nathan Fitzgibbons had the big hit in the inning, scoring two runs on a single through the left side of the infield. Texas wasn’t going to go down without putting up a fight, though.
The Southwest Regional champions responded with a run in the bottom half of the frame, as Jacob Garza doubled home a run. After a Jack Carper home run in the top of the second gave Washington a 5-1 led, Texas put together a strong inning that brought the squad right back into contention.
Texas got two runners on and didn’t have anyone out; it was a prime opportunity to put some runs on the board. Two hitters were retired, but Brandon DeLeon drew a walk and two runs came in to score on the fourth ball, which went all the way back to the screen. DeLeon got to third on the play and scored later in the inning.
Washington scored a run in the fifth and two in the sixth to take a four-run lead with Texas having just three outs left at their disposal. Jack Matheson shut down the Southwest champions in the bottom half of the sixth to earn his team a spot in the winner’s bracket of the LLWS.
There were a lot of great performances in this matchup, but there’s no question that the player of the game was Carper. He played a huge role in the team’s victory, going 3-for-4 while hitting a home run and scoring three runs. If he wasn’t in the lineup for Washington, the game could’ve gone either way.
Mexico’s Big Bats Down Australia
The Mexican offense exploded for five runs in the second inning and seven more in the third to defeat Australia 12-0 in four innings via the mercy rule.
The matchup between the two international teams looked to be a close one early in the game, as the teams only combined for one hit in the first inning. After Australia went down in order in the top of the second, though, Mexico went to work. It seemed as if the inning were never going to end.
After a Ramon Mendoza walk and an Alexander Artalejo double, Axcel Mandujano drove in the game’s first run. Australia would retire the next two batters, but then Brandon Meza hit a two-run double to left field. Meza scored later in the inning and an additional batter came in to score as well.
Australia couldn’t get anything going in the top half of the third, and once they took the field, Mexico added to its lead. Artalejo scored on a passed ball with the bases loaded before his brother, Miguel, hit a triple that scored a pair of runs. Meza hit an RBI single followed by a Brandon Montes three-run homer.
It wasn’t until after the Montes bomb that Australia retired the first batter of the inning. The Australians escaped the inning without allowing any more runs to score. It needed at least two runs in the fourth to keep the game going. Unfortunately for them, Chase Diggins was the only batter to reach in the frame and the game ended.
In fact, Diggins was the only player on Australia to reach base in the game—getting a pair of hits—as Meza was outstanding on the mound for Mexico. In 3.2 innings of work, the righty allowed just the two hits to Diggins, struck out eight batters and walked one. He’s definitely a player to watch as the tournament continues.
Connecticut Tops Tennessee in Thursday Finale
Connecticut defeated Tennessee in the final game of Thursday’s opening day of action at the Little League World Series, 3-2.
Mary Albl of the New Haven Register announced the score after the final out:
Chad Knight pitched a perfect inning in the first for the New England Region champions and then made his name known at the plate as well. Knight hit a single to center, advanced to third base on a Harry Azadian single and then scored on an RBI single by Matt Stone to give Connecticut a 1-0 lead.
Knight continued to pitch well, but gave up a run in the top of the third. Matt Pickman doubled after two strikeouts and then stole third base. He was singled home on a line drive by Christopher McElvain to tie the game at 1-1. Pickman homered in the top of the fifth to give Tennessee a one-run lead.
But Connecticut didn’t give up there. The team battled back to score a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame to retake the lead. Ricky Offenberg hit a home run to center field to start the fifth and Knight ripped an RBI double to left-center field. That was all the offense Azadian needed to close out the game for Connecticut.
Pickman was a force at the plate for Tennessee, as he went 2-for-3 and scored both of the team’s runs. But his teammates couldn’t get much done against Connecticut’s two pitchers. Knight struck out eight batters in 4.1 innings and Azadian struck out two in 1.2 innings of work, giving up a combined six hits.
While it’s only been one game, Knight looks to be one of the most talented players in Williamsport. He was fantastic on the mound and hit well too (2-for-3 with a run and an RBI). Look for Connecticut to ride him deep in this tournament.