- MORESPORTS - Almonte hurls perfect game for Baby Bombers

Saturday, August 18
Updated: August 19, 3:15 AM ET
Almonte hurls perfect game for Baby Bombers

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- A shy 12-year-old as soft-spoken in his native Spanish as he is in English came close to strikeout perfection at the Little League World Series on Saturday.

Danny Almonte
On Saturday, Bronx, N.Y., pitcher Danny Almonte pitched the first perfect game at the LLWS in 44 years.

Danny Almonte threw the series' first perfect game in 44 years and struck out all but two of 18 batters as the Rolando Paulino team from the Bronx, N.Y., defeated Apopka, Fla., 5-0.

Almonte, a left-hander with a 70-mph slider, struck out the first 15 batters and allowed just a handful of foul balls.

Heading into the sixth and final inning, he was three outs away from becoming the first LLWS pitcher to strike out every batter. But Apopka's Ryan Markell and Andrew Cobb bunted in front of the plate and were thrown out at first.

Almonte then struck out Jeff Lovejoy swinging to end the game with 53 strikes on 64 pitches.

Still, Almonte seemed unfazed by his accomplishment, answering only "Bien" when asked how he felt about the perfect game.

In another game Saturday, a team from Hagatna, Guam, held off Matamoros, Mexico, 6-5 in the International division.

The last perfect game in the series was by Angel Macias of Monterrey, Mexico, in the 1957 championship game against La Mesa Northern (Calif.)

The only other pitcher who did not allow a batter to reach base was Fred Shapiro of Delaware Township (N.J.) in 1956.

"We don't care about no-hitters or perfect games. We just care about getting wins," Bronx manager Alberto Gonzalez said. "We don't care if it's 5-4 or 10-9, we're just going for wins."

That's why Gonzalez didn't take Almonte out after the first inning, when the Bronx got a 5-0 lead. The first five Bronx batters crossed the plate in the opening game for both teams.

Apopka pitcher Stuart Tapley walked the first three batters and hit Hector Rodriguez to drive in the first run. With the bases still loaded, Carlos Garcia sent Tapley's fastball over the left-field wall for a grand slam to make it 5-0.

"I think we were a little nervous when we hit the field," Apopka manager Bobby Brewer said. "Our energy level wasn't there."

But Apopka hit 49 home runs in 21 games in getting to the series, and Gonzelez said he didn't want to take Almonte out against a team with that much offense.

"All the teams here are champions," Gonzalez said. "We have very tough competition."

Tapley recovered to allow just one Bronx hit after the first inning, Rolando Torres' single in the second inning. But Apopka couldn't get any offense going.

"He's the kind of guy, if he gets ahead in the count he's going to be hard to beat," Brewer said of Almonte.

Apopka continued to swing away until the sixth inning, when Markell and Cobb bunted. Brewer said his team didn't want to resort to bunting, but needed something to get going.

"We didn't come here as a bunt ball club, and we're not going out as a bunt ball club," Brewer said. "We swing the bats and we swing hard."

Translating for Almonte, Gonzalez said they knew Apopka eventually would try to bunt to get on base.

Almonte threw mostly fastballs, but mixed in curve balls and sliders to keep Apopka off balance.

"He was mixing it up," Gonzalez said. "We knew they were a good team hitting the ball."

The outing gave Almonte 32 strikeouts in his last two games. On Tuesday, he fanned 16 to lead his team to a 2-0 victory over State College, Pa., to qualify for the series.

Taller and leaner than his teammates, Almonte practices in a Cincinnati Reds jersey bearing the name and number of his favorite player, Ken Griffey Jr. His sunglasses rest atop the brim of his cap like another hero, fellow Dominican Sammy Sosa.

The first team from the Bronx to reach the Little League World Series has been embraced by New Yorkers and dubbed the "Baby Bombers."

Washington 4, Iowa 3, 7 innings
Coby Gibler hit a solo home run on the first pitch of the seventh inning to lift Bainbridge Island, Wash., to a 4-3 victory over Davenport (Iowa) East on Saturday in the first extra-inning game of this year's Little League World Series.

Moving over from first base, Gibler then retired all three Davenport East batters in the seventh, striking out two, to secure the win.

Gibler's shot to right-center field was the first score for Bainbridge (1-0) since they took a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Bainbridge held a 3-1 lead with two outs in the sixth when Davenport East (0-1) rallied to tie the game.

Shane White scored on a Tom O'Donnel single, bringing Davenport East within 3-2 with runners on first and third. Willie Argo scored from third on a passed ball to tie the game 3-3. But Corbin

Delacruz struck out swinging, sending the game into extra innings.

Mash Hensen's third-inning double to center field gave Bainbridge Island a 1-0 lead and advanced Dalton Gent to third base. Gent then scored on a fielder's choice, and Hensen came in on Jesse Colkitt's line drive to center field, making it 3-0.

Chris Kolar brought Davenport East within 3-1 in the fourth inning with a solo home run over the left field wall.

Indiana 5, Rhode Island 1
T.J. Baumet hit a two-run homer in the third inning to lead Brownsburg, Ind., over Lincoln, R.I.

Baumet's home run over the center-field fence put Brownsburg (2-0) up 4-0.

Lincoln (0-2) closed within 4-1 when Seth Labossiere came home on a passed ball in the fourth inning, but Rhode Island would get no closer.

Guam 6, Mexico 5
Guam is advancing in the Little League World Series after Derwin Aguon struck out 12 batters and allowed just four hits as Hagatna, Guam held off Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico 6-to-5.

Aguon was at his best in the fifth inning today, when he struck out the final two batters with the tying run at second base.

Guam is making its first appearance in the world series.

Mexico tried to close a 6-to-3 gap in the fifth inning, but fell one run short.

Mexico's pitcher Eduardo Flores struck out 12 batters but hurt himself with seven walks in the game.

Netherlands Antilles 3, Panama 2
Michelangelo Trinidad belted an opposite field home run to left field to highlight a three-run uprising and Erick Rafael survived a late rally to lead Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antillies past Santiago, Veraguas, Panama, 3-2.

Trinidad broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth with his two-out home run off losing pitcher David Montilla (0-1).

However, the Netherlands Antillies squad continued its offensive surge when Erick Rafael reached second base on an error and pinch hitter Devin Lake dropped a single in front of center fielder Issac Forero to drive in a second run and a wild pitch allowed the lead to increase to 3-0.

Rafael, who struck out seven batters in the win, took a one-hitter into the sixth inning before Luis Quintero walked and Otto Castillo belted a two-run homer over the right field fence to cut the Panama deficit to 3-2.

David Montilla kept the rally going with a single to center but Elido Rodriguez grounded out and Adolfo Reina struck out to end the game.

Rudson Pieter contributed a pair of singles to the winning offensive attack.

Calgary 5, Moscow 1
Jessie Sawyer hit a leadoff home run and struck out 11 batters to lead Calgary, Alberta, Canada (1-0) past Moscow, Russia.

Moscow (0-1) managed just three hits in its first world series appearance.

Nikolai Lobanov broke up Sawyer's no-hit bid with a single in the fourth inning and scored on Stephan Kochkine's single.


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