MANILA, Philippines - Team Manila, the Asia Pacific representative, eked out a hard-earned 10-9 victory in eight innings over a tough Latin American side Puerto Rico Monday as it kicked off its bid to reclaim the Big League Softball World Series at the packed Layton Field of the Pyles Center in Lower Sussex, Delaware, USA.
It was a roller-coaster ride for the Manila softbelles, who seized an early 8-3 lead only to surrender five runs in the fifth and trail 8-9 going to the bottom sixth. But displaying their champion’s heart, the Manileñas forced a tie and eventually won the extended match that lasted nearly three hours.
Florabelle Pabiana scored the equalizer off a hard ground ball to centerfield by Lovely Dyan Arago in the bottom sixth. Two innings later, right fielder Christy Joy Roa made two defensive plays to foil the Puerto Ricans. On their end, Reizel Calumbres scooted home for the marginal run off a single to third by Lorna Adorable as the Phl squad secured the win. Latin America dropped to 1-1.
“Puerto Rico has always been in there in the Big League and I think they are also fast-developing and will be a tough contender in the semifinals”, said Manila Little League president Rafael “Che” Borromeo.
When they were down, head coach Anna Santiago told her players: “Don’t give up. Just play your game.”
The 2013 world champions, whose campaign is backed by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, Philippine Airlines and the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), with support from Jean Henry Lhuiller and Danny Francisco of ASAPHIL, outhit Puerto Rico, 16-8.
Queeny Sabobo led the offensive with three RBIs on three hits, highlighting her performance with a three-run home run in the second frame that pushed the AsPac bets ahead, 4-0.
Latin America unloaded its own three-run homer at the top of the third to close in but Team Manila quickly countered with three runs to restore a four-run lead and padded it to 8-3 in the fourth.
Liz Rivera made it a tied ballgame with a grand slam in the fifth, then the Puerto Ricans grabbed the upperhand off an RBI single by Rosalina Villanueva at the top of the sixth.
Manila, which used four pitchers, will take on unbeaten Milford, Delaware of USA East (2-0) next.