For the first time in the 65-year history of the Little League Baseball World Series, a team from Africa will be in the field. Rev. John Foundation Little League from Kampala, Uganda, won the Middle East and Africa Region Tournament today with a 6-4 victory over a 17-time World Series qualifier since 1991, Arabian American Little League from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
The five-team, four-day tournament was played at the Little League Baseball European Leadership Training Center in Kutno, Poland.
"We are delighted to have a team from Africa represented for the first time at the World Series this year," said Little?League CEO?Stephen D. Keener in a statement. "We have to acknowledge the hard work of Richard Stanley, who has played a pivotal role in helping Little League get started in Uganda and his continued assistance in helping the league on a year-to-year basis."
Later Saturday, a Aruba North LL from Orenjestad, Aruba beat Elrod Hendricks West LL?from the US?Virgin Islands, 4-2, to win the Caribbean region.
The LLWS?runs Aug. 18-28 at Lamade and Volunteer Stadiums.
To earn their berth in the World Series, the team from Africa had to avenge their only loss in the tournament, a 3-2 setback to the Arabian American in the round-robin portion of the tournament. To get to the championship game, the top two teams in round-robin play would vie for the title, Rev. John Foundation Little League defeated a team from Kuwait, 6-4, the United Arab Emirates, 6-3, and South Africa, 12-2.
It broke a string of 11 consecutive years in which Arabian American had earned a berth in the LLWS.
Little League in Uganda is relatively new with the first local leagues chartering in 2005. In 2008, Rev. John Foundation LL played in the regional tournament for the first time. They also played in the regional last year. This year was the first time they had reached the championship game with the chance to earn a berth in the World Series.
The Ugandan team will play its first LLWS?game Aug. 19, against the champion from Canada in the modified double-elimination tournament. There are 8-team brackets for the U.S. and International entries, and all "if necessary" games have been abandoned.
Aruba won the eight-day, 10-team Caribbean Region tournament in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. It finished second in Pool B with a 3-1 pool play record losing only to Paribo LL from Willemstad, Curacao, which went undefeated in pool play. In the other pool, Jose M. Rodriguez Little League from Manati, P.R., which was last year's Caribbean Champion, went undefeated while Elrod Hendricks West LL was the runner-up, losing only to the team from Puerto Rico.
Both second-place teams in pool play upset the top seed from the opposite pool in the crossover semifinal contests. Aruba was a 4-0 winner over Jose M. Rodriguez LL and Elrod Hendricks West LL posted an 8-7 victory over Paribo LL to set up the title contest.
Aruba will play its first LLWS?game Aug. 18 against Hamamatsu City, Japan.
The U.S. regional finals run Aug. 11-14 on ESPN channels.
Two other International teams have already qualified - Hamamatsu Minami LL?from Japan and Ching-Tang LL?from Kaohsiung, Taiwan in the Asia-Pacific region. Both leagues are first-time LLWS?entrants.