Mexico advances to Little League international finals
August 26, 2009
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – The fans from Reynosa, Mexico stand out in the crowd with their big sombreros, stark green shirts and their catchy chants.
“Ole, ole, ole,” they sang as they swayed in unison, some rooters waving mini-Mexican flags.
It’s a fun trip when your Little League team stays undefeated at the World Series.
Raymundo Berrones and Raul Rojas combined Wednesday on a one-hitter, and Rojas’ two-run blast highlighted a five-run first inning of a 6-0 win over Chiba City, Japan to send Mexico to the international final Saturday against either Curacao or Taiwan. Japan was eliminated.
“We’ve lost friendships and lost time with our family to practice for this, so we’re really happy to be here,” the 12-year-old Berrones said through interpreter Sergio Guzman.
Mexico has some of the most feared arms in South Williamsport, with an ERA of 0.71 entering Wednesday.
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Rojas isn’t too bad at the plate, either.
His first-inning drive to straightaway center gave Mexico a 2-0 lead and impressed the crowd. The 12-year-old slugger slowed as he approached home, then stomped on the plate as giddy teammates patted him on the helmet.
“I was just very excited to hit a home run in front of my family at the Little League World Series,” Rojas said with a serious look, a little nervous at the microphone.
It was more than enough support for Berrones, whose curve baffled Japan. He struck out 10 before being lifted with one out in the fifth after reaching his limit of 85 pitches.
In came Rojas, who finished the fifth, then allowed the first two batters to reach base on an error and Naoto Ogura’s infield single for Japan’s only hit of the game.
But Rojas got three strikeouts to end the game.
Japan starter Toshinori Wakai gave up all six Mexico runs and five hits, but settled down and didn’t allow a hit after the first. Mexico’s coach said Japan adjusted and threw nothing but breaking pitches after the first.
“At the start of the game, he was too excited,” Japan manager Hirofumi Oda said through interpreter Kotaro Omori about his pitcher.