By Arnie Leshin
While the United States teams were mostly headed for a string of Friday championship games in the Regions to bring the winners to the 75th annual Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., the International field had quite a few tight finishes.
One of those was the Puerto Rico Region played in Guaynabo, where Amelia and Veja Bajas went at it. Amelia finally made its way to the WS with a 6-5 come-from-behind win in the finals.
It finished at 5-1, but the one loss came at the hands of Veja Bajas, a 2-0 shutdown, Veja Bajas’ four straight zip that put it at 4-0 and was Amelia’s initial loss in four starts. But back came Amelia to claim a 3-1 triumph and set up the deciding game for the championship.
Down by three runs, Amelia had a three-run fifth and held on to earn the trip to the WS. Veja Bajas wound up at 4-2, scored 38 tuns and allowed 10, while Amelia tallied 40 times and yielded 12.
There was another tough one in the Mexico Region at Matamoros Tamaocipas between the host team and Tijuana Municipal. Matamoros won it 3-2 in the final and wound up at 6-1, but second place Tijuana Municipal handed it it’s only setback at 4-3, and finished at 5-1.
The host champions came up with 49 runs and allowed 18, while Tijuana scored 29 and gave up 17.
Then there was Taiwan and Korea in the Asia-Pacific played at Hwasilung City in South Korea. Taiwan won it, but it didn’t come east. It’s lone loss in five outings came versus Korea, and before that it had four shutouts in a row prior to the 2-1 defeat to Korea.
Thus, Taiwan wound up at 4-1, gave up but three runs while scoring 41, and Korea went 3-1, tallied 35 times and allowed 4.
One other tight field came in the Caribbean Region at Punta Gorta in the Dominican Republic. It was all about Coracao A and Cuba. Both finished at 5-1, but split a pair of one-run tussles, Coracao A taking the first at 2-1, and Cuba the second at 3-2.
But in the finals, it was Coracao A emerging victorious, 3-1, with two runs in the sixth inning untying a 1-1 deadlock.
None of the other Regional finals were as close. There were some fairly even fields spread around at each, but not in the title games.
At the Australian Region at Milton Park in Milbourne, it was Brisbane North finishing 7-1 with a 9-3 victory over Hills in the final. Brisbane North came away with 61 runs and gave up 21, and its lone loss was 4-0 to Hills, which went 5-2.
In the Europe-Africa Region at Moergestel in the Netherlands, Italy won four of five and topped the Czech Republic, 4-1, in the finals while scoring 35 runs and yielding six. Czech Republic came away with two shutouts, tallied 19 times and allowed five.
At the Japan Region at Chiryu Aichi, it was unbeaten Takarazuka (3-0) turning back Hirishima, 12-3, which went 3-1. Takarazuka scored 36 runs and gave up nine.
At the Latin American Region played at Managua Nicarauyua, the host team blanked Venazeuala, 10-0, in the tittle game to finish 5-1 after previously defeating Venazualia, 9-6. It was the fourth shutout for the Nicarauyua team and Venazualia concluded at 4-2.
In the Panama Region at Agyadulce Cabez, the host team handily won things via a 12-0 zip over Villa de Los in the finals. Agyadulce won all its five tests and allowed only three runs while scoring 30.
Meanwhile, except for those eliminated, all the U.S. team are playing to reach the World Series that runs from Aug. 19-28.Canada is also playing its Region now.
It’s the same formula, the International field plays until its championship game against the United States in the finale.