NZ Asia-Pacific Senior League Champions
- Published on Friday, 13 July 2012 02:33
- Written by Gareth Hooton
The New Zealand Senior League All-Stars won a close fought game, worthy of a championship final, defeating the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Senior League All-Stars 2-1, on the final day of the 2012 Senior League Asia-Pacific Regional Tournament held at Paseo Stadium in Hagatna, Guam, to become Asia-Pacific Champions.
New Zealand suffered only one loss, to hosts Guam (19-1), on the Saturday, but won their four other games against Indonesia (17-3), China (20-4), Philippines (4-0), and CNMI (2-1) to finish the round of pool play with the best record (4-1) overall in the regional, outscoring opponents 44-27, advancing a New Zealand team to a World Series for the first time in the nation's history. As tournament champions New Zealand will represent the Asia-Pacific Region at the Senior League Baseball World Series this August in Bangor, Maine.
In the final must win pool game for both teams, New Zealand managed an early run in the opening frame, but this looked like it may be the only scoring opportunity in the game as CNMI buckled down on defence and the game turned into a real pitcher's duel between New Zealand ace Ja'rome Ritchie and the CNMI's A.J. Lizama.
Ritchie got out of a jam in the bottom of the first inning leaving the CNMI with two men stranded. Lizama answered notching his fifth strikeout in the top half of the second inning, followed by Ritchie coming back with a 1-2-3 inning to close out the second. Lizama repeated the feat in the top of the third, after which Ritchie and the NZ team held strong against the top of CNMI's line up.
Both teams executed impressively both on the mound and out in the field as hits were at a premium in the standoff, until New Zealand grinded out its second run in the fifth inning thanks to a leadoff double to left field by Hamish Witters, who was then driven home by Sam Clerk.
New Zealand's Ritchie stifled the CNMI's top of the order again in the sixth inning and held them to just one run in an exciting final inning.
The CNMI's Jun Rabauliman ripped a single to left and stole two bases before scoring on an error, and Frankie Camacho made it all the way to third base, but was left stranded as the CNMI team could not get the tying run to the plate.
The CNMI's pitcher Lizama was strong on the mound striking out nine through seven frames, giving up only one earned run off six hits, one walk, and two hit batsmen.
Winning pitcher Ritchie also went the distance giving up only one unearned run off seven hits with two strikeouts. He issued zero walks and canned nine put outs.
The NZ Senior League (U17) All-Star Team:
Samuel Clerk, Samuel Hayes, Iranuiarapo Holthausen, Mitchell James, Hamish Witters, Max Key, Jack Malcolm, Ja’rome Ritchie, Benjamin Thompson, Kohei Ueha, Nicholas Weaver, Oliver Weaver, Thomas Weaver.
Manager: Cola Yeh, Coach: Wen-Sheng Lu
Senior League World Series
New Zealand, as the Asia Pacific champion, is one of four International teams that will compete against the best of the US in the Senior League World Series, a 10-team tournament for the best squads of 13 to16-year-old baseball players from clubs around the world.
Games of the annual series begin at noon August 12, at Shawn T. Mansfield Stadium. Four games will be played each day, August 12-16. The World Series title game is set for 2 p.m. August 18 and will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN3.
Since 2002's Senior League World Series, Asia-Pacific teams are 10-30 (.250) in pool play and 10-31 (.244) overall, with a semifinal appearance in 2009, when the Philippines posted the region's best pool play record in a series (3-1) before losing to eventual series champ West University L.L., Houston, Texas.
Auckland will play in Pool B, along with Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA), U.S. Southeast, U.S. Southwest, and U.S. West.
The Senior League Baseball World Series is one of eight World Series sponsored by Little League International. Senior League Baseball is for Little Leaguers ages 13 through 16. Little League is the largest youth sports program in the world.
The defending Senior League World Series champion is Hilo, Hawaii.
CNMI Senior All-Stars fall in ASPAC by Walter J. Sutherland