Detroit Tiger Carlos Guillen signs an autograph for Venezuela’s Mikey Edie. Guillen was in the stands at World Series Field in Heritage Park to show support for the team from his homeland and stayed after to pose for photos and sign autographs.
Chinese Taipei’s Hung Yuan Lin rounds the bases after a three-run home run against Italy on the opening day of play last Sunday. Chinese Taipei, last year’s Junior League world champion, played Friday for the International championship for the second year in a row.
By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – Organizers of the Junior League World Series promised that last week’s games featuring the best 13- and 14-year-old players from around the world would provide a showcase of baseball at its finest.
Heading into the Final Four elimination beginning Friday (results unavailable at press time), the week’s play lived up to the anticipation: A no hitter, extra-inning contests and plenty of team spirit were on display at Heritage Park.
In the USA pool, Friday’s final showdown pitted the Sunnyside Little League team from Tucson, Ariz., (USA West) against the USA Southeast champs from Tampa, Fla. Asia-Pacific winners from Chinese Taipei faced Latin America champions Maracaibo, Venezuela, Friday afternoon. The winners of those two hit the field yesterday morning for the title of Junior League World Series champions, a game broadcast on ESPN2.
Both Tampa and Chinese Taipei went undefeated during the week’s contests. Tampa allowed just three hits in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over North Canton, Ohio, (USA Central) and topped Rosenberg, Texas, (USA Southwest) in a rain-delayed 8-5 win Thursday to qualify for Friday’s USA title. Arizona’s path to Friday’s playoff included a 3-0, two-hit shutout of North Canton on Thursday and a 14-hit, 9-2 win over Johnston, R.I., (USA East) Tuesday.
During International play, Puerto Rico threatened a 10-game JLWS win-streak that players from Chinese Taipei have ridden over two years. The champs from Yabucoa held a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh and final inning Wednesday, but a dramatic home run sparked a walkoff win that preserved Taipei’s winning ways. On Tuesday, Taipei pitchers Chun Yu Wang and Chin Ou combined for a no-hitter against Surrey, B.C., Canada, during a 10-0 blowout.
Venezuela’s efforts to reach Friday’s playoff included an 11-0 shutout over Emilia, Italy, on Tuesday and a 5-1 loss to Tapei during Monday’s 14-inning, four-hour game, ranking among the longest in JLWS history.
The 2011 Junior League World Series marked the 31st edition of the international championship, a Downriver fixture bringing thousands of fans and friends from around the world to Taylor for a week of baseball. For more information, visit www.juniorleagueworldseries.com.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])