Playing with ‘orgullo’
The Puerto Rico national team has been the hit of the tournament so far, offering a new culture with an exciting playing style backed by a rowdy group of supporters that has created a lively atmosphere.
It’s been fun for the team, which stayed alive and eliminated the Greeley (Colo.) Grays in a come-from-behind 4-3 victory on Monday, and it’s been fun for the NBC World Series.
“I think it’s very exciting for the tournament,” said NBC World Series tournament director Kevin Jenks. “They bring energy, and they bring enthusiasm that we don’t see from a lot of our fans, at least not at that level. They’re standing up, they’re chanting, they’re singing, they’re waving their flags. I love it. We’re okay, and I think they’re okay, with people jumping on the Puerto Rican bandwagon.”
The team was ecstatic on Monday because the stadium complied to their request to play Latin music during the game. It may seem minor to other teams, but to the Puerto Ricans, the music mattered.
“We were singing and dancing in the dugout because that’s the way we play back home in Puerto Rico,” said Luis Maldonado, who drove in the game’s tying run in the eighth inning. “I’m sure a lot of people here have not really seen a lot of that in the past.”
The one advantage Puerto Rico has over its competition is that its playing with a deeper sense of orgullo, the Spanish word for pride.
On Monday, the team’s orgullo helped rally it from a 3-1 deficit in the last two innings. After a wild pitch scored a run with the bases loaded and two out in the eighth, Maldonado, a pinch hitter, dribbled a ground ball far enough to take the first basemen off the bag and beat the throw.
Juan Natal, the game’s tying run, scored and Jose Cruz rounded third with too much ambition and was thrown out at home. But the momentum and flipped, especially after Francisco Diaz laid out for a diving snag down the left-field foul line.
In the ninth, Puerto Rico’s lead-off hitter reached base, moved to second on a two-strike bunt executed by Abdiel Alicea, then scored on a bloop single by Eduardo Sanchez for the game-winning run.
“It was tough to make that call with two strikes, but we’re known to play aggressive baseball and that’s what needed to be done in order to win the game,” Puerto Rico manager Harvey Pena said. “We had to put that bunt down and I was willing to risk the game for it.
“I saw a lot of attitude and a lot of pride out there and we got the job done.”
Age is just a number
Word has circulated over the years to the coaches of Sluggers Academy that the 18-and-under team’s inclusion in the NBC World Series is frowned upon by the older teams.
So the Sluggers were determined this summer to prove their worth. While the Sluggers were eliminated Monday in an 8-5 loss to Boulder (Colo.), coach Matt Baty believed his team quelled any doubts.
“We do belong and we showed that we could play,” Baty said. “We eliminated one team and were on the doorstep of eliminating another team (Monday).”
The Sluggers were one strike away from escaping the seventh inning unscathed with a 5-3 lead. But they were denied strike three on a full count with the bases loaded, a call that sent Baty into a rage and made the Sluggers come undone.
Boulder proceeded to string together three singles to score a total of five runs and take an 8-5 lead. The Sluggers stranded three runners the final two innings, signaling the end of their run.
For the game, the Sluggers had 14 hits but stranded a total of 14 base runners. Taylor Sanagorski, a Bishop Carroll alum and Wichita State commitment, reached base in all five of his at-bats and finished his three-game tournament with an on-base percentage of 0.714.
“You hear a lot us being so young, but baseball is baseball at the end of the day,” Baty said. “We all put our pants on the same way. You play against the ball. I think absolutely it was frustrating the way it ended, but I’m awfully proud of my guys. We proved we can play.”
With Abdel Rivera’s complete game on Monday, Puerto Rico’s starting pitchers have combined to throw 26 of a possible 27 innings. Marco Blanchard threw a complete game in Puerto Rico’s opening victory, then Roy Geigel toiled eight innings on Sunday.
No other pitching staff had produced a complete game performance through Monday’s feature game.
Boulder 8, Wichita Sluggers 5
Puerto Rico National 4, Greeley 3
Kansas Cannons 11, Park City Rangers 3 (7 innings)
Southern California Outlaws vs. Austin Shockers
Boulder Collegians (Colo.) 8,
Wichita Sluggers 5
|Wichita Sluggers||101||021||000||—||5 14 0|
|Boulder||000||300||50x||—||8 11 1|
W — Patty 1-0. L — Ruxlow 0-1. S – J. Smith (1).
Puerto Rico National 4,
Greeley Grays (Colo.) 3
|Puerto Rico||100||000||021||—||4 6 3|
|Greeley||100||020||000||—||3 6 2|
W — Rivera 1-0 L — Busto 0-1.
Kansas Cannons 11, Park City Rangers 3
|Kansas Cannons||Park City|
|Topps lf||4||2||1||0||Boyce dh||3||0||0||0|
|Herrington 2b||3||2||3||3||Kowlakowski rf||3||1||2||1|
|Johnston 1b||3||2||0||1||Chamberlain 1b||4||1||1||0|
|Sterling dh||4||1||2||1||Lucas 2b||3||0||1||1|
|Knight rf||4||1||1||2||Skender ss||3||0||0||0|
|Diaz c||2||0||1||2||Vaughn 3b||3||0||0||0|
|Logan c||0||1||0||0||Bugner lf||3||0||0||0|
|Kaufman 3b||4||0||0||0||Kennedy cf||2||1||2||0|
|Sanchez cf||4||0||1||0||Legate c||2||0||1||0|
|Kansas Cannons||202||042||1 —||11 11 1|
|Park City Rangers||200||010||0 —||3 7 3|
E— Knight (1), Chamberlain (1), Lucas (1), Vaughn (1). LOB— Kansas Cannons 5, Park City 6. 2B— Topps (1), Knight (1), Diaz (2), Sanchez (1), Chamberlain (1). 3B – Herrington 2 (2). SF – Herrington (1), Johnston (1). S – Topps, Boyce. HBP – Legate (1) by Branum. SB — Phillips (1).
|Branum W, 2-0||6||6||3||2||1||3|
|Lunsford L, 0-1||4 2/3||8||8||6||2||3|
Umpires—Home, Terry Harrison; first, Lance Vaughn ; third, Tony D’Aquano.
Sedalia (Mo.) 2
Austin Shockers 1
|Austin Shockers||Sedalia, Mo.|
|Bailey ss||2||1||0||0||Hair 2b||4||0||0||0|
|Ruiz 2b||4||0||1||1||Cartner 1b||4||1||2||0|
|Beasley cf||3||0||1||0||R. Prieto rf||3||0||1||0|
|Benyo 1b||4||0||0||0||Sandifer 3b||4||0||1||0|
|Train c||2||0||0||0||Bee c||4||1||1||0|
|Triebes c||1||0||0||0||Gratza lf||3||0||1||0|
|Fajardo lf||4||0||1||0||Leeper ss||2||0||1||1|
|Canas rf||2||0||0||0||A. Prieto dh||2||0||0||0|
|Measells ph/rf||2||0||0||0||Turner cf||3||0||1||0|
|Austin||000||001||000 —||1 3 1|
|Sedalia||100||100||00x —||2 8 2|
E— Canas (1), Bee (1), Leeper (1). LOB— Austin 6, Sedalia 7. 2B— Ruiz (2), Cartner (1). S – Gratza, Leeper. SB – Bailey (2), Hair (2).
|Foreman L, 0-1||8.0||4||1||0||2||7|
|Lavendier W, 1-0||8||2||1||1||3||7|
|Chambliss S (1)||1||1||0||0||1||2|
Umpires—Home, Lance Vaughn; first, Terry Harrison; third, Bill Humphrey.