The Guam Junior All-Stars, defying the odds, advanced to the 2019 Little League Asia-Pacific regional tournament championship game by knocking off the Philippines, 5-4.
Guam, with Saturday’s win in front of the crowd in Weihai City, Shandong Province, People’s Republic of China, is one win away from advancing to the World Series.
“The boys showed lots of heart, and their hard work paid off,” said Isaac Cruz, Team Guam's head coach. “We are going to the ship.”
The Little League Junior League Baseball World Series, scheduled for Aug. 11-18, will take place in Taylor, Michigan.
Tied 4-4, a patient Guam team, in the bottom of the eighth inning, with two outs, loaded the bases. Franklin Ninete Jr., with the pressure on, drew a base on balls. Zavier Camacho, crossing home plate on the force, scored the game-winning run.
The win, Guam's third extra-inning victory of the tournament, was a nain-biter.
Guam's Nolan Cruz, who was solid from the mound in relief, described the game as nerve-wracking.
Cruz relying on the coaching staff's wisdom, said that he threw “one pitch at a time.”
Guam, not entering the tournament as a favorite, quieted the doubters by making it to the medal rounds. With the eight-inning win over the Philippines, Guam will have to play Chinese Taipei in the finals.
The first time the two clashed in pool play, on Tuesday, the 2018 World Series champions buried Guam, 21-0.
For Team Guam, win or lose, the lowest medal they can walk away with is silver.
The Guam Junior Division All-Stars are Franklin Ninete Jr., Andrew Perez, Zhavier Panes, Zachary Muna, Raythan Sablan, Elijah Asuncion, Noa Mendiola, Jace Gumataotao, John Salas Jr., Zavier Camacho, Ricardo Leon Guerrero II, Nolan Cruz, Dominic Cruz Jr., and Jonathan Sablan. They are coached by Franklin Ninete Sr., Isaac Cruz, and John Salas.
The story will be updated.