MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Barakos displayed grace under pressure, hacking out a pulsating 5-4 victory over tough Indonesia to capture the first PONY International Asia Pacific Zone Bronco-11 Championship Saturday in a rain-disrupted finale in Singapore.
With the win, the Barakos earned the right to represent Asia-Pacific in the PONY Bronco-11 World Series slated July 25-31 in Chesterfield, Virginia.
The Barakos came out of a two-hour delay caused by heavy rains and threats of lightning and a 3-all count a determined lot, hitting three successive base-hits that produced two runs in the seventh inning.
Ian Mercado slammed a single that sent CJ Castillo and Rovic Villanueva home, giving the Barakos a 5-3 cushion, then they held off the Indonesian batters’ spirited attempts to either catch up or overtake them at the bottom of the last frame.
With Barakos pitcher Chris Clark seemingly tiring, the Indonesians managed to put a runner on base and pounced on a Phl error to close in at 4-5, sending the match into a thrilling finish.
The next Indonesian reached base, and the succeeding batter sent the ball towards second base, but the Filipinos scuttled their bid with a crucial double play. The ball hit the Indon runner on the foot and Gab Alcaraz was quick to put him out, then threw it to first base for the double play.
Another defensive gem, this time by last year’s Mustang division MVP Atong Natanauan, who dove to grab the Indon batter’s line drive to third base and hurled a rocket throw to first base for a close out, formalized the Barakos’ coronation as the first Asian Bronco-11 champs.
“Virginia World Series, here we come!” exclaimed the jubilant Barakos who converged in the middle of the field to celebrate.
Clark, a fastball artist from Southridge School who took over pitching chores in the third after starter Yoji Ueda surrendered three runs off four hits that tied the contest, was adjudged MVP. Natanauan was given special mention.
Meanwhile, Singapore succeeded the Phl Little Razcals as Asian Mustang champion after blanking finals rival Indonesia, 3-0.
The Singaporeans blasted the Indons with three runs in the opening frame then foiled the latter’s attempts at a fightback.