Mon-Yough falls to Japan, but not without making it interesting

Bookmark and Share
Make text smaller Make text larger


Given how the Pony League World Series has gone thus far for Mon-Yough, erasing a five-run deficit in the final inning against Okinawa, Japan, shouldn’t have seemed all that improbable

Few things, after all, are more unlikely to happen than Mon-Yough’s opening-round win, a game where the Host Zone champion scored 10 runs over the final three innings and won, 16-14.

Yet despite pushing across four runs in the final inning and getting the go-ahead run into scoring position with just one out, Mon-Yough couldn’t summon any more magic and dropped an 8-7 decision to the Japanese Monday at Lew Hays Pony Field in Washington Park.

“What can I say,” Mon-Yough coach Scott Callaway said. “They have a flair for the dramatic.”

Trailing 8-3 entering the top of the seventh inning, Mon-Yough got a three-run homer from second baseman Charlie Varriano – a bomb that landed a good 40 feet past the center-field fence – and a solo shot from third baseman Jason Cerniglia.

Center fielder Timmy Labuda then tripled. Right fielder Brandon Cain walked and stole second, giving Mon-Yough runners on second and third with one out.

But first baseman Ben Cole and pitcher Cory Saus grounded out to end the game.

“It was a little tough,” said shortstop Jake Callaway, who finished 2-for-3 with a homer and a double. “It’s a shame that we couldn’t come out with the win. We battled back. We don’t like to quit.”

Monday’s game marked the second consecutive game Japan used a four-run inning to down an opponent after opening with a 5-4 win over Brownsville, Texas, Saturday.

“I always believe in my players,” Japan coach Asao China said through a translator.

Japan will advance and play either Mon-Yough or Bayamon, Puerto Rico, who meet in an elimination game at 10 a.m. today. Japan’s game against the winner starts at 5:30 p.m. today.

Mon-Yough took a 1-0 lead two batters into the game when Callaway poked a pitch the opposite way and deposited it halfway up the hillside beyond the right-field fence for a solo home run.

Japan evened the score in the bottom half when center fielder Kansei Ashitomi doubled the gap in left center.

Mon-Yough jumped ahead again in the second. Cerniglia and Labuda hit back-to-back singles. Cerniglia scored when Japan second baseman Yasuta Miyahira threw wild to first while trying to turn a double play.

Japan tied the score at two when it pushed across a run in the third on a pair of walks and three wild pitches and surged ahead an inning later.

In the four-run fourth, pinch-hitter Tomoki Nako drove a double to the base of the fence to score third baseman Tomohiro Meaawakura.

Japan’s lead grew to 6-2 when left fielder Yuma Tamanaha smashed a two-run double that short-hopped the fence, later scoring on an error charged to Callaway at short.

A wild pitch and another Nako RBI gave Japan some much-needed insurance as Mon-Yough made its patented push, falling just short this time.

“Just a little bit disappointing, but at the same time, what more could you ask to play a team from Japan, you get a chance maybe once in a lifetime,” Scott Callaway said. “These kids never quit. You see we have bats up and down the order. The better team won today. That’s all. They made a few more plays than we did.”

Extra bases

Varriano, Cerniglia and Labuda joined Callaway with multiple hits. Labuda had a single, double and triple. … Tomoya Yara picked up the win with three scoreless innings of relief, striking out six. … Asia-Pacific teams have won nine Pony League World Series titles, all since 1987.

Bookmark and Share Make text smaller Make text larger
comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular
What do you think?