Four teams qualify for Junior League World Series
All-star baseball teams from four nations have qualified to compete for the world championship during the Junior League World Series August 13-19 at Heritage Park in Taylor.
The four qualifiers for the best teams of 13- and 14-year-old baseball players in the world include Jakarta, Indonesia; Maracaibo, Venezuela; Ramstein, Germany; and Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico.
Six more teams – five regional champions from the United States and the national champion of Canada – will join the series after tournaments starting August 1.
The Jakarta Little League will be the first team from Indonesia to play in the Junior League World Series. The team won the Asia-Pacific regional championship by stunning Saipan of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, 5-4. Saipan had won an earlier game in pool play, 25-0, in the tournament played in Jakarta. The victory ended five straight years in Taylor by teams from Saipan.
The Coquivacao Little League in Maracaibo, Venezuela won the Latin American championship, defeating Caracao, 16-4, in the final game. In all, 10 teams from different nations competed in the region, which took place on St. Thomas of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Maracaibo will be the third team from South America represented in the World Series – and all have been from Venezuela. Another Little League from Maracaibo, San Francisco, made it to the finals of the World Series in 2001. In 2004, a team from Punto Fijo, Venezuela, also made it to the finals.
One of the teams in the Latin America regional was from Panama, the country that won the 2005 World Series, so there will be no repeat champion this year.
The team from the Sector Pesca Little League in Guaymas, Sonora, will play in Taylor as the national champions of Mexico. In even-numbered years, the Mexican national champion receives an automatic berth. In odd-numbered years, a team from Puerto Rico receives the berth. This year, a team from Puerto Rico played in the Latin America regional, but did not advance beyond pool play.
The 2006 World Series marks the 20th anniversary of the first year Mexico participated. Mexican teams have played in Taylor 15 times – and a team from Mexicali, Baja California, won the world title in 1988. This will be the third time a team from the Sector Pesca Little League plays in Taylor. The other two years were 1990 and 1992.
The fourth qualifier is a U.S. military team out of Ramstein, Germany, which won the Europe-Middle East-Africa regional tournament played in Kutno, Poland. Ramstein defeated London, England, 7-3, in the finals of the 10-nation tournament.
Teams from Germany have played in Taylor eight times – most recently in 2000, when Ramstein made its second appearance.
The four teams and the Canadian national champions will play in the International Pool of the World Series. The Canadian champion will be decided during a regional tournament August 3-10 in Lethbridge, Alberta.
The USA Pool will consist of five teams as well. Regional tournaments are set to begin Tuesday in Beaverton, Oregon (West region), Friday in Grand Junction, Colorado (Southwest), and Saturday in Freehold, New Jersey (East), Cartersville, Georgia (South), and Fort Wayne, Indiana (Central). The Michigan state champion will play in the 11-team Central regional in Indiana.
World Series opening ceremonies are scheduled for 8 p.m. August 12. Games begin the next day at noon and continue through the world championship game at 5 p.m. August 19. The final game is taped by ESPN for future broadcast.
The complete schedule, history of the tournament and much more on the World Series can be found on the city of Taylor web site, www.cityoftaylor.com.