The Willemstad, Curacao, players went from small ball to the long ball in the first three batters, reestablishing themselves in the International bracket as they advanced past Ramstein AFB, Germany, 14-2 in 4 innings, Saturday at the Little League World Series.
Ceddanne Rafaela and Hermain Habat reached on a bunt single and infield error after a bunt, respectively, to lead off the top of the first inning. No. 3 hitter Christopher Koeiman then drilled a three-run home run to right-center as the Caribbean Region champ Curacao's Pariba Little Leaguers opened with an eight-run first inning.
"The first game, their pitching was strong and we didn't have a chance to play our game," Curacao manager Edmiro Chirino said through an interpreter. "The message today was get on base, small ball as well. But it wasn't necessary."
Little was necessary except good pitching and defense after a first inning that saw 11 batters score eight times off seven hits and four errors.
Jaier Janzen, Mychellon Jansen and Rallison Bentura each had two hits for Curacao, which is off until Monday afternoon and will face the loser of today's Canada-Panama game.
Janzen replaced Koieman in the lineup after Koieman was hurt on a base path collision in the third inning.
"I was happy I hit the home run, but not that I couldn't finish the game," Koieman said through an interpreter while wearing a soccer-ball sized ice pack on his right hip.
Chirino said trainers would work with Koieman and rest him to make sure he was ready for Monday.
Arjun Huerta earned the win, starting off with two scoreless innings and staying under 35 pitches to remain eligible for Monday. He allowed one hit and struck out five. Ruendy Carolina and Richelon Juliana threw 20 pitches in relief. Curacao's entire staff can throw Monday, if necessary.
"It feels good to put the loss to Japan behind us," said Koieman, who appears to be in line to start at pitcher Monday since he'll be rested from starting Thursday's opener.
Koieman, like his teammates, wore thermal long sleeves because they thought the game time temperatures in the 70s were cold. However, they liked playing on the grass infields, since their Curacao infields are dirt and prone to bad hops.
European champ Ramstein will play one more game before heading home, a crossover consolation Monday against Midwest champ Kearney, Neb., which was eliminated by New England titlist Fairfield, Conn., on Saturday afternoon.
Starting pitcher Jared Mendiola was replaced after facing seven hitters, all of whom scored though three were unearned. Tyler Woodberry pitched the rest of the way in relief.
"We haven't seen how our kids can play yet. We went through the regionals with two errors and today, six," Ramstein manager Eric Vincent said. "I'm not sure what happened. Maybe our kids used all their good play in regionals. We had good hits, but couldn't link them together."
Ramstein finished with four hits, scoring both of its runs in the bottom of the third inning as Justin Wilson singled home Nico DeCosta and Kyle Glenn singled home Mendiola.
"We have another game and we want to come out of here with a win to get our confidence up," said Vincent, whose team hoped to use its experience from playing in a winter and mostly indoor ambassador's program in neighboring European countries.
If not, there's always a planned trip to Yankee Stadium on Aug. 27, one day after the LLWS ends.