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Boscán finally gets to LLWS after visa issue

MARK NANCDE/Sun-Gazette Venezuela pitcher Diego Boscan pauses on the pitcher mound before throwing the first pitch against Curacao on Tuesday at Lamade Stadium.

Diego Boscán climbed atop the Lamade Stadium like it was no big deal. He stood there waiting for teammate Hendrik Maestre to squat behind the plate and accept his warm-up pitches.

For a player who had missed the first five days of the Little League World Series, including Maracaibo, Venezuela’s, previous three games, Boscán looked as if he were at home. It’s part of the reason Venezuela manager Luis Gonzalez felt comfortable putting Boscán on the mound Tuesday in an elimination game.

It didn’t exactly work out as planned for Boscán as he allowed five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings as Venezuela was eliminated from championship contention with a 9-2 loss to Curacao. But just getting the opportunity to finally play in the Little League World Series was just as important as the outcome for Boscán.

He wasn’t initially able to join his teammates in South Williamsport because a visa issue kept him from entering the United States. A press release from Little League International on Tuesday stated that Boscán had finally been approved for a visa at the U.S. Consulate in Panama and was able to travel to South Williamsport. He arrived Monday. On Tuesday, he was pitching in the most important game of the summer for his team.

Why Boscán was denied a visa and the process he had to go through to finally attain one were not disclosed by Little League. In an email, Little League said any further questions would have to be directed to the U.S. State Department.

“We are pleased Diego will be able to share in the experience of the 2019 Little League Baseball World Series alongside his coaches, friends, and teammates, including the opportunity to play on Howard J. Lamade Stadium,” Little League said in its release.

Boscán assured Gonzalez he got plenty of sleep on his flight to Pennsylvania and was ready to go for yesterday’s game.

“We’ve had trust in him since our tournament down in Venezuela,” Gonzalez said following Tuesday’s loss. “Having him here so he can have the experience is great.”

Had Boscán been here for the entire tournament, Gonzalez said he would have been one of the team’s top three pitchers. So it made sense when he was finally able to play, to throw him right in the game. He had the freshest arm of anybody on the Venezuela staff.

But Boscán relied heavily on his breaking ball through the first two innings and struggled to throw it for strikes. He walked three batters in the first inning, but also struck out a pair.

Boscán was a strike away from escaping a first-inning, bases-loaded jam without any damage when Curaçao’s Clay Winklaar blooped a two-run single to left field. Boscán was eventually lifted from the game after allowing three consecutive one-out singles.

“I expected he was going to be a very good pitcher, and he was,” Curacao manager Michelangelo Celestina said. “But I thought he might be more sharp.”

Gonzalez seemed to be quite pleased after the game that Boscán would have the opportunity to enjoy the festivities and things going on around the Little League World Series for the rest of the week. Although the team is not alive for an championship anymore, there will likely be opportunities for exhibition games against other teams which have already been eliminated.

“The important thing is he made it here,” Gonzalez said. “Now he can enjoy the rest of the week.”

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