CLARK FREEPORT—International Little League Association of Manila sustained the country’s drive for a Senior League baseball crown with a 16-4 drubbing of China in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East Championships here.
With teams in other divisions of baseball nursing slim hopes of advancing past pool play, Illam easily reached the semifinals by topping Pool A with another overpowering performance at the Clark Parade Grounds here yesterday.
After earlier triumphs over Thailand (13-5) and Hong Kong (4-2), the Illam batters are slight favorites when they battle New Zealand today for a place in the finals at 8 a.m.
Diego Lozano unleashed a grand slam home run in the second inning, where Illam chalked up six runs to put away the Chinese squad. Lozano was also part of a solid three-man pitching rotation that held the visitors to just a couple of hits in the abbreviated win.
Illam actually opened the game with five hits for nine runs against shaky Chinese starter Wan Guo Liang, paving the way for the lopsided triumph.
“The boys’ hitting clicked,” said Illam coach Larry Icban in Filipino. “We have a strong pitching crew and the boys are well-prepared.”
Manila South (Big League), Sta. Cruz, Laguna (Senior League) and Iloilo Province (Junior League) face their respective Indonesian counterparts today, all hoping to move within a win of clinching the titles in their divisions and spots in the World Series.
Iloilo Province earlier clinched the Little League Softball 11-12 title with a three-game sweep of Indonesia last Wednesday.
Scrambling to make up for their poor start, Tanauan’s Little League and Junior League baseball campaigners came away with crucial victories to keep their slim hopes of making the knockout round.