Puerto Rico beats Australia in 4 innings
By BEN BRIGANDI
A closer look at Caribbean Region champ Hamacao, Puerto Rico’s 16-3, 4-inning victory over Australia champ Perth, Thursday at Volunteer Stadium:
PLAY OF THE GAME: After four walks, a hit batsman, and a pitching change, Puerto Ricos Abimael Torres gave his team a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with a grand-slam home run to right field.
PUERTO RICO PLAYER OF THE GAME: Nearly every player piled up the stats in this one, but Adrian Colon was the only one with two runs and two RBIs.
AUSTRALIA PLAYER OF THE GAME: Blake Monaghan was 1-for-2 with 2 RBI and also scored in the third inning.
BIG INNING: Puerto Rico scored 13 runs in the bottom of the first on eight hits and left one on base.
HOME RUNS: In addition to Torres, Oscar Lopez, a pinch-hitter in the No. 9 spot, added a three-run home run to straightaway left field that made it 16-1 in the bottom of the third.
FLASHING LEATHER: Australia left fielder Carter Dowling ended the bottom of the third by snaring Edward Gonzalez’ sinking liner down the line as he then rolled along the ground. He carried the ball all the way into the infield while teammates high-fived him and jumped at his shoulders.
BEST EFFORT: There didn’t appear to be any Bad News Bears antics out of Australia during or after the 13-run inning, the kind of inning that tests the notion that this game can be fun. The team kept playing, scored three times, and waved its hats to the Puerto Rican fan section when it was over.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS: Puerto Rico is in the winner’s bracket Sunday at noon vs. Asia-Pacific champ Seoul, South Korea, while Australia is in the loser’s bracket Saturday at noon vs. Europe and Africa champ Brno, Czech Republic.
WHAT THE ADULTS SAY: Australia manager Brian Armstrong praised his kids for not giving up, telling them he was proud of them, and kept his sense of humor in the postgame media interview. “It was 16-3. Not bad for jai alai, eh,” Armstrong said.
WHAT THE KIDS SAY: “What surprised us is even though they are losing by a big margin, they were still playing hard, so that was good and something that would make you cheer for the other team,” Torres said through an interpreter, on Australia.