The deciding play for Chesterfield County, Va., in the first game of Saturday’s Pony League World Series tripleheader won’t show up in the box score, at least not in the form of an official at-bat for second baseman Colby Carnes.
Not that anyone from the “Old Dominion” is going to complain.
Not after a 3-2 win at Lew Hays Pony Field that kept Chesterfield County in the winners’ bracket.
Trailing by a run in the top of the seventh inning and having struck out 14 times against Luis Acosta, the starting pitcher for Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, Chesterfield County scored a pair of runs in a bizarre way: via sacrifice fly.
With one out and runners on second and third, Carnes skied a fly ball deep into the right-field corner. The throw from Miguel Sanchez was strong enough and accurate enough to nail Trey Ramsey, but catcher Divier Lara dropped the ball.
Because the ball bounced far enough away from the batter’s box, left fielder Eric Hubbard came around to score from second, plating the go-ahead run with a head-first slide, a cloud of white dust and no throw.
“Not in a long time,” Chesterfield County coach Melvin Gentry replied when asked when the last time was that he saw a sacrifice fly score two. “I might have seen one. I just can’t remember the last time I saw it.
“The catcher holds the ball, they probably win the game. He drops the ball – and not that the catcher did a bad job, it’s just a tough play right there.”
Chesterfield County went ahead 1-0 in the top of the sixth when starting pitcher Stephen Baughan crushed a hanging breaking ball into left to score center fielder Reed Raikes.
Baughan, who took a no-hitter into the fifth and wound up with seven strikeouts, finished with two hits for Chesterfield County.
Mexico plated two in the bottom half, when center fielder Gerardo Quinonez and left fielder Ignacio Robles drove in runs with singles.
That, of course, didn’t hold, as Hubbard made a hard turn around third and scored the game-winning run on a hustle play.
“We always tell the guys to be aggressive, pay attention and see what’s going on,” Gentry said. “(Hubbard) gets to third, makes a big turn, and I’m yelling, ‘Go, go, go.’ He’s going without me saying anything, because he read what happened.”
Chesterfield County won’t play until Monday at 8 p.m. and will meet either Hilo, HI, the West Zone champion, or Paderborn, Germany, an 8-1 winner over Washington. Hawaii and Germany meet today at 3 p.m. Mexico will play Washington in an elimination game tonight at 8.
Acosta was unhittable early and wound up striking out 15, a number that even impressed his coach.
“He worked hard,” Mexico coach Luis Coronel said through an interpreter. “He was prepared for this game.”
Japanese squeak past Brownsville, Texas
Okinawa, Japan, the Asia Pacific Zone champion, nearly found itself on the wrong end of a perfect game, then a no-hitter. Still, the Japanese were somehow able to cobble together four runs in the sixth and hang on en route to a 5-4 victory over Brownsville, Texas, in the nightcap.
Brownsville scored twice in the seventh and had the tying run on base, but a 6-3 double play killed the rally.
Brownsville starter Balta Guzman struck out six of the first 12 batters he faced, allowing just one ball to leave the infield, before an error charged to third baseman Nick Montemayor broke up the perfect game in the fifth.
Right fielder Tatumi Higashionna ended the no-hit bid with an infield single to load the bases in the sixth, and first baseman Yuma Tamanaha chopped a two-run single up the middle to tie it.
Higashionna later scored on an errant pickoff throw, and Tamanaha slid home safely after a wild pitch, narrowly beating the throw.
Brownsville took a 2-0 lead in the third inning – with only one ball leaving the infield.
A walk to right fielder Jaime Gonzalez was sandwiched between bunt singles from left fielder Josh Alaniz and center fielder Nate Reyna to load the bases with no outs. After a strikeout, second baseman Marky Ordonez brought in a run with a sacrifice fly. A wild relay throw allowed Gonzalez to score as well.
Japan will play Mon-Yough, a 16-14 winner over Bay County, Mich., Friday night, at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Also scheduled for Monday, though earlier in the day at 10 a.m.: Brownsville draws the winner of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and Bay County, an elimination game that will played today at 5:30 p.m.
Daisuke Okuma pitched three innings in relief to get the win. Tomoya Yara picked up the save. … Tomoki Nako drove in Okinawa’s fifth run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. … Ricky Ruiz had two hits – a double and a single – for Brownsville.