Soto tosses shutout for LA

Here is a closer look at Maraicabo, Venezuela’s 2-0 win over Sydney, New South Wales on Saturday:

PLAY OF THE GAME: Brayam Apalmo’s fifth-inning single — Hendrik Maestre started the inning off with a perfectly executed bunt down the third-base line to reach. After a groundout followed to move Maestre, it was Apalmo who came up big. Apalmo drilled a single into left field which dropped between the outfielders to allow Maestre to score. The RBI single provided Venezuela with an insurance run and put the pressure on Australia to tie the game in its final out bat down 2-0.

AUSTRALIA PLAYER OF THE GAME: Pitcher Max Miotto did all he could to keep Australia in the game from a defensive standpoint. Venezuela has the ability to hit the ball deep and do a lot of offensive damage, but it was Miotto’s arm that kept the bats relatively at bay. Venezuela had five hits, but only two were for extra bases.

“I was really proud of Max with his pitching today. Really showed what he’s about,” Australia manager Jason Choat said. “The team defended well behind him today. … He did a good job.”

VENEZUELA PLAYER OF THE GAME: Randy Soto kept frustrating Australia’s batters and not giving up any big hits throughout the game. Of Australia’s three singles, only one left the infield as Soto forced Australia to ground out or fly out routinely. In the top of the fifth inning, with runners on first and second, Soto came up with a huge strikeout of Blake Cleary to stifle any before it started. He escaped without allowing a game-tying or go-ahead run to score. Soto finished with four strikeouts in six innings.

BIG INNING: After a grounder started the Venezuelan second inning, Ibrahim Ruiz crushed a double to the warning track for the first extra-base hit of the game. One batter later, Hendrik Maestre came through with another double, this one to left, to drive in Ruiz for the first run of the game. In a game which featured only eight combined hits, it proved to be big for Venezuela.

BEST EFFORT: Give credit to the Australia defense. While Miotta pitched well and limited what Venezuela’s bats were doing, it was the Australia defense that came up with some great plays. Twice Australia turned a double play, once in the bottom of the fourth inning when Sam Levick caught a fly ball and rifled a perfect throw to first to get the runner who had to try to get back to tag up. In the fifth, it was a hard line drive at Miotta, who caught it effortlessly and got the runner out at first as he tried to get back.

FLASHING LEATHER: Venezuela made some great defensive plays, highlighted by shortstop Jonathan Rangel. Rangel snagged numerous hard-hit grounders, was part of a big double play in the top of the second inning, and made the catch of the game when he ran into left field on a fly ball, caught it over the shoulder and avoided colliding with the team’s left fielder.

HOME RUNS: There were no home runs.

WHAT THE ADULTS SAY: “(Getting a 1-0 lead) was a calming moment where I knew after getting that run during the game that the pitching would be good and he’d go all the way and have good pitching for the rest of the game,” Venezuela manager Luis Gonzalez said through an interpreter.

WHAT THE KIDS SAY: “I felt confident in my team helping out during the game (defensively). That helped me a lot,” Venezuela’s Randy Soto said through an interpreter of his complete-game pitching effort.

WHAT IT MEANS: Australia is eliminated from title contention and plays Monday in a consolation game against the Kentucky at Lamade Stadium at 11 a.m. Venezuela advances to play the loser of today’s Japan vs. Mexico game at Volunteer Stadium on Monday at 1 p.m. in an elimination game.


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