Puerto Rico tops host team for BLWS crown

By Ben Robinson
For the Courier

EASLEY — Puerto Rico delivered the Big League World Series host team its first loss in a finals game at Easley last Wednesday, defeating the locals 7-3 to win its third BLWS title since the tournament moved to Easley in 2001.

S.C. District 1 led early in the game, only to see the Puerto Rican team score seven unanswered runs to take the win and its second championship in the last three years.

It was the first time S.C. District 1 had lost in the championship game after winning in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007.

S.C. District 1 took the lead in the top half of the first inning.
Tanner Lollis hit a single into right field, the moved to third on Ereven Roper’s double. Trey Hayes was then hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Lollis then scored as the runners advanced on a passed ball. Hayes then scored on a single hit by Stephen McKnight, giving the host squad a 2-0 lead after half an inning.

S.C. District 1 added to its lead in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Roper drew a walk, and Colby Loggins came in to pinch run for the S.C. District 1 catcher. Hayes then drew a walk, and McKnight hit a single to load the bases.

Chase Day then drew a walk, bringing Loggins in for District 1’s third run. Facing a 3-0 deficit after 2 1/2 innings, Puerto Rico starting pitcher Joe Jimenez was replaced by Yamil Rivera. Rivera faced McKnight and gave up a hit, then was replaced by Yadeil Cruz, who finished the inning, then pitched the rest of the game until the final out. Cruz got the inning’s third out, then Puerto Rico began its comeback in the bottom of the third inning.

Michael Clinton opened the inning with a single, then Rafeal Olivaras reached base after being hit by a pitch. The runners advanced when Jonathan Morales was out at first, then were driven in by a home run hit by Alexis Cruz, tying the game at 3-3.

Arnoldo Matros then reached base on a single. Armaldo Olmeda then hit a double, scoring Maltros and giving Puerto Rico a 4-3 lead.
Puerto Rico increased their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when Morales singled. Kevin Santa came in to pinch run, then advanced to second when Alexis Cruz was thrown out at first.

Santa stole third base, then scored when Victor Caratina singled into right field.

In the bottom of the sixth, Alexis Olmeda and Giovante Lugo each singled, then advanced on a fly out by Randy Ventura. Olivaras then singled, driving in Olmelda and Lugo to wrap up Puerto Rico’s scoring for the night.

In the top of the seventh, S.C. District 1 players knew they had to at least tie the score or the game was over. With two outs, Roper hit a single, then advanced to second base on a single hit by Hayes.
Francisco Rosa came in to pitch for Puerto Rico, but hit McKnight with a pitch to load the bases.

Rivera then came in to face Beau Strickland. Rivera got a strikeout, and ended the game.

Puerto Rico had reached the championship game by defeating Venezuela 10-1 in the International finals. S.C. District 1 had defeated previously unbeaten Indiana District 10 by a 6-2 final in the U.S. finals. Hayes picked up the win with a complete game in the semi-finals.