Mexico wins again in extra innings at Little League World Series
Ruiz’s hit over the 225-foot wall in center gave his team a 2-1 win over Venezuela, the representative from the Latin America region, and put Mexico into the finals of the international bracket. Venezuela will play Japan on Thursday in an elimination game.
A jubilant Ruiz said after the game, “I really just wanted to get on base and make good contact. But I got a fastball low and inside and when I hit it, I knew it was gone.”
Francisco Picos McDonough, manager of the Seguro Social Little League team from Mexicali, said he was proud of his team's ability to ignore the stress and stay focused.
“I always told them they’re warriors,” he said. “They’re just the best. To win in this kind of tournament, you have to face the best and win against the best.”
Now that Mexico is off until Saturday’s international championship game, the team may have earned a trip to a New York Yankees game.
McDonough, who said he is a Boston Red Sox fan, said most of his team roots for the Yankees and that Yankees pitcher Luis Ayala, who was born in Mexico, said he’d have tickets for the team for Thursday’s game against Oakland in New York, a four-hour drive from the LLWS.
Mexico had taken a lead over Venezuela in the top of the first on a single by center fielder Alonso Garcia that scored shortstop Jorge Jacobo and brought enthusiastic fans to their feet. It almost felt like Christmas. The Mexican team, and most of its fans, wear green shirts with red trim and white pants.
Venezuela tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first. The big hit was a double over third base from shortstop Yonny Hernandez. Mexico's Carlos Arellano struck out the side but he also hit Venezuela’s leadoff batter, Albaro Gaince, and it was Gaince who scored.
A one-out triple by pinch-hitter Keyber Cardozo was wasted in the bottom of the third by Venezuela. Arellano got a groundout to second base from Elio Narvaez and struck out first baseman Neil Prieto to end the inning after intentionally walking shortstop Hernandez.
And that’s where the score stayed until Ruiz’s home run.
Venezuela loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth on a leadoff double from Narvaez, an intentional walk to Hernandez and a single from Prieto.
But after Omar Conoropo Jr.struck out, Carlos Narvaez hit into an inning-ending double play that survived video review. Elio Narvaez was thrown out at the plate and Carlos Narvaez was out by an inch at first.
Mexico seemed to have a good chance to take the lead in the seventh after a one-out single from Alvaro Valdez and a walk to Kenet Delgado. But after Arellano singled to right, Valdez was out at the plate on a big throw from right fielder Conoropo and a perfect sweep tag from catcher Carlos Narvaez. That play also withstood video replay.
-- Diane Pucin, reporting from South Williamsport, Pa.
Photo: Mexico's Bruno Ruiz celebrates as he rounds third base after hitting a solo home run in the ninth inning against Venezuela at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., on Wednesday. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press