Host team wins Caribbean Championship; tournament team wins bronze
Behind a dominating pitching effort, Team Bahamas host team shut out Cuba, 3-0, to capture the Babe Ruth Caribbean Region 12-and-Under (12U) Championship at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex on Monday.
Chrishad Thompson Jr. was masterful, surrendering just one hit in four innings of work and relief pitchers Chrispin Rodgers and Leslie Sands Jr. closed the door on the Cubans who had knocked out The Bahamas’ tournament team, 7-2, in the semifinals.
Host team manager Javier ‘Sonic’ Bowe said it’s a sweet feeling winning the overall title. They will now go on to represent The Bahamas at the Cal Ripken Major70 World Series at Ballparks of America in Branson, Missouri, from August 4-13, 2022.
The tournament team actually came into the five-day classic as the top team out of The Bahamas, with the majority of their players being on the gold medal team from the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) National Championships in June. However, this past weekend, pitching was key, and it was the host team’s effort from the mound that stood out the most.
“Our team just started to gel at the right time. They just went out there and got the job done,” said Bowe. “Right now, it’s back to preparation and getting their minds right, and getting them ready to play for the world series tournament. This event gave them a lot of confidence and they want to keep it going.”
Bowe said they looked at the entire situation as an opportunity to go out there and prove what they could do.
“When they picked the teams, the guys understood that they were still within the best 28 in their division. We knew what that meant,” said Bowe. “We had some bumps in the road along the way, but after I got them to relax and play the way they’re capable of playing, it all came together for us. Our slogan was ‘we’re all we got, we’re all we need’. As long as they went out there and played for the person on the side of them, play for each other, we were sure that we were going to win.”
Thompson, who hails from Freeport, Grand Bahama, mowed down opposing hitters one by one at the plate. The Cuban batters couldn’t catch up to his fast ball. Thompson reached his pitch count at the end of the fourth inning. Rodgers worked around a lead-off walk to keep Cuba off the scoreboard in the top of the fifth, and Sands did the same thing in the sixth. With a lead-off walk and an ensuing single, Cuba put the first two runners on base in the top of the sixth inning. Sands got the next batter to fly out to center field, but an error loaded the bases. Cuba’s next two batters had a pop fly and grounded out to second to end the game in The Bahamas’ favor.
“Chrishad gave us just what we needed on the mound today. His nickname in our circle is ‘the little monster’, because he is big. He is bigger than most of the other kids. All we asked him to do was to go out there and give it his best and he did that. In the nationals, he pitched two shutout games so we knew what he was capable of doing. He went out there and gave us a great effort and we had more than enough to back him up,” said Bowe.
Bowe said he wasn’t worried at all when Cuba loaded the bases in the sixth and brought the go-ahead run to the plate.
“We were hitting last so I was comfortable that
whatever happened, we would have an opportunity to respond. Given the crowd support and what they are capable of doing, I had no doubt that we would have responded if we needed to,” said Bowe. “This feels good – as a coach and here at home in these circumstances, it’s a good feeling.”
Team Bahamas catcher Antwon Bain led The Bahamas at the plate with a 2-for-3 performance with a RBI (run batted in). He was named as the best hitter in the tournament.
“We came out successful and it feels good,” said Bain. “We had confidence in ourselves. We knew what we were capable of doing and we went out there and did it. I had trust in our pitchers to go out there and get the job done and that’s what they did.”
Thompson was named as the best defensive player of the tournament. It was his bunt single in the bottom of the third that forced a throwing error from the Cuban pitcher. A run scored on the play and Thompson ended up on third. He came home on a sacrifice fly to right field and The Bahamas scored another run to take a 3-0 lead. The pitching led the way for the team the rest of the way.
Cuba’s catcher Yonathan Hechavaria was named as the tournament’s best catcher.
The Bahamas tournament team won the bronze medal game, taking down Aruba, 8-0, and The Bahamas also won the 16U (16-and-Under) Invitational gold medal, beating the United States of America (USA) in the gold medal game, 13-6.