With a berth into the 2019 Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series playoffs one win away, the Guam Cal Ripken 12U All-Stars failed to advance to the winner's bracket playoff.
On Wednesday (Guam time), in Visalia, California, the 15-member island squad lost to Visalia Grey, 6-2. The loss, in the final game of pool play, moved Guam into a three-way tie for third. Finishing the round-robin, 2-3, Guam, Visalia Grey, and Middle Atlantic were deadlocked.
With the three teams, in head-to-head competition, finishing 1-1, runs allowed decided the final playoff spot. Visalia Grey, by a slim margin, advanced to the single-elimination playoff.
The Guam All-Stars, placing fourth, will play on Thursday (Guam time) for a shot at the Iron Bracket Championship.
Visalia Grey’s Malache Moreno, breaking open the game early, launched a first-inning two-run homer off Guam starting pitcher Donovin Tenorio.
Tenorio, in the inning, allowed two more runs.
Guam’s Xander Borja, pitching in relief, for 4 2/3 innings, quieted Visalia’s bats. Allowing just two runs, and striking out three batters, Borja kept Guam within striking distance.
But, with Visalia flashing the leather, runs were a scarce commodity. Turning double plays in the top of the first and fourth innings, Visalia’s defense stymied Guam’s rallies.
In the top of the sixth inning, Guam plated their first run. An RBI single by Jovaien Bamba, driving in Ty Fernandez who reached on a double, lit up the scoreboard. Bamba, later crossing home plate on a Visalia error, scored Guam’s final run.
Bamba, with six hits and four RBIs over five games, and a .429 batting average, led Guam.
Fernandez, also with six hits, three for extra bases, emerged as a leader.
Borja, with nine strikeouts, through nine innings, finished with a 1.33 earned run average.
Guam, with two wins, proved they can compete against some of the country’s top 12-year-olds.
John McDonald, Guam’s team manager, after the first win, said, “Our Guam team can do it.”
“We just have to practice hard and be serious … ,” he added.
Jerick Taimanglo, Guam’s third baseman, who also pitches, echoed McDonald’s sentiments.
“It means everything that we can show what Guam is made of, and show them we have what it takes,” he said.