Guatemala qualifies for the Junior League World Series in Taylor

Guatemala City has become the first baseball team from the nation of Guatemala to qualify for a World Series.

The Guatemalan all-stars will play in the Junior League World Series in Taylor, starting Sunday, August 15.

The national champions of Guatemala defeated Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, 8-4, on Saturday to win the Latin America regional title.

The Latin America champion is one of five teams that will compete in the International Pool of the Junior League World Series, a 10-team tournament for the best squads of 13- and 14-year-old baseball players from around the world.

Games of the 30th annual series begin at noon August 15, at Taylor’s Heritage Park. Four games will be played each day, August 15-19. The International and USA championship games will be played August 20. The World Series title game is set for 4 p.m. August 21.

Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, August 14. The ceremonies will include a parade of champions, speeches by dignitaries, a ceremonial first pitch and fireworks.

Guatemala will be the second international team to play for the first time in the 2010 Junior League World Series. Chinese Taipei will debut in Taylor as the champion of the Asia-Pacific region.

The champion of the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region is Kirovograd Center/Rivne in the Ukraine. The national champions of Mexico from Guaymas, Sonora, have also qualified for the Junior League World Series.

The fifth team in the International Pool will be the national champion of Canada. The Canadian tournament is scheduled for August 6-12 in Lethbridge, Alberta.

The five teams in the USA Pool will come from five regions of the United States. The West region tournament was scheduled to begin yesterday and conclude August 10 in Laguna Niguel, California. Other regional tournaments get under way this weekend in Freehold Township, New Jersey; Midland, Texas; Greenville, South Carolina; and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Junior League state champion from Michigan will play in the Central region in Indiana.

Guatemala was the site of the Latin America regional. In fact, there were two teams from Guatemala City in the tournament: the national champions from the Javier Little League and a host city team.

To win the Latin America title, the national champions went 3-1 in round-robin pool play. They defeated Nicaragua, 9-4; lost to Puerto Rico, 6-5; defeated St. Croix of the U.S. Virgin Islands, 18-1; and defeated Colombia, 9-3.

The top two teams from each pool advanced to the semifinals and crossed over to play teams from the other pool. Puerto Rico, which went undefeated in Pool A, defeated Valencia, Venezuela, 7-6, in the first semifinal game. Guatemala defeated Chitre, Panama, 7-6, in the second game. That set up the championship game between Guatemala and Puerto Rico.

The Guatemala host city team went 0-5 in pool play. Also in the 11-team Latim America regional field were the national champions of Honduras, Aruba and Curacao.
“We’re excited that a new nation will be represented at the World Series,” said Director Greg Bzura. “We know the Hispanic community was watching the Latin America final and we know the Puerto Rico fans are disappointed. As for myself, I’ve never been partial to any of the teams. From a standpoint of ‘nobody is bigger than the program,’ I like the idea that more of the world can see our wonderful city.”

During the first 29 years of the Junior League World Series, teams traveled to Taylor from 28 different states in the United States and 22 international destinations. Only one other Central American team has won the Junior League World Series. Panama City, Panama, won the world title in 2005.

The defending world champion is Scottsdale, Arizona.