There was some consolation for the Caribbean champ Willemstad, Curacao, players after their 6-2 loss to Matamoras, Mexico Saturday.
They were about to get a consolation pep talk from fellow Curacao native and Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens, who flew in for the game to watch them.
"The only thing I didn't like was everyone put their head down and got p.....-off at each other," Jurrjens said. "At that moment, you need to push each other."
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens, right, watches the Pabao Little League team from Willemstad, Curacao, representing the Carribean, play against Mexico Saturday afternoon. Jurrjens, a native of Curacao, flew into Williamsport from Atlanta Saturday morning to cheer on the team.
Jurrjens, a 22-year-old rookie, is 11-8 with a 3.15 ERA so far this season. He took a 5-1 loss Friday night at home against San Francisco, despite allowing two runs over seven innings with nine strikeouts. He then got on a plane for Williamsport, having accepting an invitation from the Curacao tourism board and receiving immediate approval from Braves manager Bobby Cox.
"Bobby, he put a smile on my face. He's one of the best managers in the league, and more like a father than a manager," Jurrjens said. "He's a great guy to play under."
Curacao manager Vernon Isabella knew Friday of Jurrjens' plans, but kept them secret from the players.
"They were very happy," Isabella said through a translator.
This marked Jurrjens first visit to Lamade Stadium, and first to visit a Curacao team this year, as he'd wanted to visit the Curacao entry in the Junior or Senior League World Series entries.
Saturday was enough to make Jurrjens wish he'd played here when he had the chance.
"It's a really nice stage, like a minor-league big league," said Jurrjens, who couldn't stay long after talking to the team because he needed to rejoin the Braves. "It's great for their age."
Jurrjens played in a World Series, the Senior League Baseball World Series in Bangor, Maine, in 2002 for Curacao. He played third base and pitcher, closing out his team's 6-3 win over Boynton Beach, Fla.
He signed with the Detroit Tigers the next year after a scout told his dad he'd make a better pitching prospect. He made his major-league debut there last year, before an offseason trade to Atlanta, where he gets to bat instead of sitting for the designated hitter.
Jurrjens always enjoyed hitting, and said being a 10-year-old watching fellow Curacao native Andruw Jones hit two home runs in the 1996 World Series encouraged his baseball interest.
"Everyone wanted to be in the big leagues after that," said Jurrjens, who added that youngsters idolize the Curacao players they watch in the Little League World Series each year since the Caribbean Region was created in 2001.
He thought it helped explain the string of appearances, and hoped pro scouts take notice.
"I think baseball is growing now in Curacao," Jurrjens said. With the job these guys are doing - and Andruw with the two homers - I'm trying to put the name out there that there's another baseball island."