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 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
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
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
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
Washington 4, Iowa 3, 7 innings
|On Saturday, Bronx, N.Y., pitcher Danny Almonte pitched the first perfect game at the LLWS in 44 years.|
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
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
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
Rudson Pieter contributed a pair of singles to the winning
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
Nikolai Lobanov broke up Sawyer's no-hit bid with a single in
the fourth inning and scored on Stephan Kochkine's single.