by Paul Cicala, KVOA News 4 Sports Director/Anchor
LIVERMORE, CA – Powered by a 5-run, 4th inning and a 3-run shot by Dustin Bermudez, the Nogales team representing Arizona and the West blew out Puerto Rico 11-4 to take home a Little League World Series title in the Intermediates Division.
The group of 12 & 13-year-olds have become the 2nd team in the last year from Southern Arizona (& KVOA viewership region) to win a Little League World Series title with millions of people watching on national TV (ESPN2). – Last year, the group of 12-year-olds from Tucson’s Sunnyside Little League beat Virginia for a world title in softball.
Nogales (Arizona) Little League broke the game wide open in the fourth inning, after a two-run double by Jorge Bojorquez. Afterward, Paul Carreno blasted a 2-RBI double. The boys from Santa Cruz County reeled off 10 unanswered runs, and nearly “mercy ruled” the all stars from Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico struck first blood, leading 1-0, and later 3-1. But, after that, Nogales got hot.
The game had a truly international flare, with both teams comprised of the majority of players sharing Spanish as their first language. Nogales, Arizona is located on the border with Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Most of the players have grown up as “fronterizos”, or “borderlanders”, having family and friends on both the Arizona and Sonora side of the border, as is common in the region.
Watching the game on ESPN2, viewers could see the animated crowd from Nogales, Arizona cheering in English & Spanish, chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A”, followed by cheers of “Go Nogales”, and “Si se puede”, or “Yes we can”!
In addition, Nogales players, proudly representing Arizona & the USA, were able to communicate in Spanish with Puerto Rican players. Despite the loss, players from Puerto Rico were good sports, and seemed to bond with the players from Nogales, Arizona.
With catcher Mario Duarte leading the way behind the plate, on the mound, Nogales’ German Fajardo pitched a complete game, and was credited with the “win”. He was also 1-3 on the night.
Dustin Bermudez was 2-4 with 3 RBI & 2 runs scored. Jonathan Lopez was 2-2. Aaron Solis was 2-4 with 2 runs scored.
To see more in-depth stories on Nogales’ run to the Little League World series title, please go to KVOA News 4 Tucson anchor Paul Cicala’s twitter handle @PaulCicala or www.facebook.com/paulcicala Also, Richie Melby’s stories on Nogales can be seen at @RichieMelby on twitter, and on his facebook site.
**Nogales players and fans are expected to return to the Tucson International Airport on Tuesday at 5:25 p.m. on Tuesday evening (United Airlines). Well-wishers are encouraged to turn out and congratulate the group of Nogales youngsters in person at the airport. Also, there’ll be a parade in downtown Nogales, Arizona at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.