Curacao sends Guam packing with 11-run inning

Updated: August 25, 2005, 9:52 PM ET
Associated Press

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The kids from Willemstad, Curacao, put on a hitting display at the Little League World Series that would make native son Andruw Jones proud.

Christopher Garia allowed two hits and Curacao scored 11 runs in the fifth inning to rout Mangilao-Barrigado, Guam, 16-1 Thursday and advance to the international championship game on Saturday against Japan.

In the second game of Thursday's doubleheader, Sheyne Baniaga homered onto the hill beyond the left-field wall and Kini Enos scattered five hits over five innings to help West Oahu of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, defeat Lafayette, La., 2-0. Hawaii advances to face Rancho Bueno Vista of Vista, Calif., on Saturday in the U.S. championship.

Struggling offensively coming into the game, the defending champs from the Pabao Little League sent 15 batters to the plate in the top of the fifth to end Guam's chances. The game ended after Guam hit in the bottom of the inning because of the 10-run mercy rule, and Guam was eliminated.

Jones, the Atlanta Braves slugger, is from Willemstad and the Curacao team tries to watch Braves games in between practices. Jones is hitting .272 with 40 homers this season.

"He's my idol," Curacao outfielder Sherman La Crus said softly after the game through an interpreter. La Crus wears the same number as Jones, No. 25, and had two of Curacao's 13 hits.

He did a good interpretation of his idol at the plate, too, hitting a home run in the third that landed near the light pole beyond the left-field fence and doubling in the fifth inning.

After just beating the throw home on an Alexander Rodriguez single, La Crus jumped up, slapped his hands and swaggered back to the dugout.

He didn't talk much afterward.

"I felt good," said the 12-year-old La Crus, nodding, with a serious look.

Curacao was hitting .182 for the tournament coming into Thursday's game and had just four hits over its previous two outings. They face a tough task on Saturday against Japan, which beat Curacao 9-0 earlier in the tournament.

Curacao manager Vernon Isabella said he had his team take batting practice against live pitching over the last couple days, rather than taking swings in the batting cage.

It worked. Curacao hit two home runs and roped line drives all over the field.

"I expected them to explode at any time," Isabella said through an interpreter.

Guam (3-1) scored its only run in the first inning after Gerald Borja walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch and went to third on a fielder's choice. Borja then scored on another Garia wild pitch.

Garia dominated after that, at one point striking out five straight hitters. He didn't allow a hit until Alomar Rdialul doubled to the right-field corner in the fifth inning and was lifted for a reliever three batters later.

"The kids felt the pressure of playing against the defending world champions and finally hit the wall in the fifth inning," Guam manager Shon Muna said.

Down 1-0, Curacao took control in the top of the second after loading the bases following Ingemar Haime's bunt single down the third-base line. Rodriguez followed with his single to left that scored two runs and gave Curacao a 2-1 lead.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press