Team Bahamas’ last hope for a semifinal spot at the Little League Caribbean and Latin American Championships currently ongoing in Willemstad, Curaçao, rested on the judgement of a protest by the host country against Cuba, and unfortunately, the decision went against them, keeping them in the third position in their pool and out of the semifinals.
Tournament officials ruled late Wednesday that the protest of Curaçao against Cuba for an ineligible pitcher due to age was unsuccessful. They ruled that Cuba has met all of the age requirements of all of their players.
As a result, Curacao’s B team – Pariba Little League and Cuba are the two teams that will advance to the tournament semifinals out of Pool B. The Bahamas has to settle for third place in the pool. Curacao’s A team – Pabao Little League and Puerto Rico are the two teams advancing out of Pool A. The semifinals are set for today, and the championship game will be held on Saturday. Just the top team will advance to the Little League World Series.
“It’s unfortunate. We’re a little disappointed, but at the same time, we held our destiny in our hands,” said Team Bahamas Head Coach Javier “Sonic” Bowe. “We didn’t play as well as we should have, and unfortunately, that’s the way baseball goes sometimes. I’m proud of the boys and I’m happy with the experience they gained from this tournament. As coaches, we know that we have some things that we need to work on in order to get better, and once we do that, we’ll be in a better position next year and beyond.”
Team Bahamas, represented by players from the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN), finished with a 3-2 win/loss record in the tournament. They were just two outs away from victory when Curacao’s B team erupted for seven runs off relief pitching in their first game of the tournament. Team Bahamas lost that game, 7-3, defeated Bonaire and Antigua & Barbuda by a combined score of 26-0 in their next two games, and then were completely overwhelmed by Cuban pitcher Cristian Yosvani, the same one who was protested against, in their fourth game of the tournament. Yosvani hurled a perfect game, striking out 17 of the 18 batters he faced. Team Bahamas lost that game, 6-0, and then defeated the Dominican Republic in their final game of the tournament, 5-0.
“From a confidence standpoint, they now realize that they could play with anyone in the world,” said Bowe. “That’s a story that they could go back and tell the players who will be coming into this age bracket next year. One thing that we need to realize as a nation is that we have to get behind and support our young athletes if we want them to advance. The level of corporate sponsorship these teams get from their countries when compared to what we get is astronomical. They have big corporate sponsors on board with them and it’s difficult for us to get that same kind of support at home. A lot of times when we go on trips, parents have to dig into their pockets for their kids to travel. The players on those other teams only have to worry about baseball and playing well. We have to worry about making the trip on the whole. We would really like to see Corporate Bahamas step up and assist baseball some more. Our kids are getting off to school and turning pro, and it starts at this level.”
Bowe also said that recognizing players for baseball at an early age would work to their advantage.
“Over here, there is an academy that starts with tee ballers. At home, our academies are limited and they start at about 12 years of age,” said Bowe. “The kids over here are in academies from they are about five-years-old and they are identified for baseball at a very young age. It’s an eye-opening experience for us as coaches, and something that I believe we need to implement at home.”
The 12-and-under (12U) tournament is the regional qualifier for the Little League World Series, set for August 15-25, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania – arguably the biggest and most prestigious 12U tournament in the world.
In the Caribbean and Latin American Zone qualifier, Durwuan Stuart was the leading hitter for Team Bahamas and Alexander Eneas was the best pitcher. Stuart finished the tournament 7-for-12 with two home-runs and nine RBIs, and Eneas pitched 11 and a third scoreless innings.
The team is set to return home on Sunday.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting