– By DALE DUFF

Special to the Telegram

BANGOR – Guatemala claimed its first baseball title, beating Lemon Grove, Calif., 6-3 in the championship game of the Senior League World Series at Mansfield Stadium.

“This is the biggest thing Guatemala has ever achieved at any sport,” said head coach Angel Hoyas. “A lot of hard work. These kids deserved it.”

 After both teams threatened but failed to score in the first inning, California got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second.

Frankie Nunez walked, Derrick Clark doubled and Brandon Weed was hit on the shoulder to load the bases. Dominick Sawyer then ripped a 2-1 pitch to center for an RBI single, putting California up 1-0.

It would be California’s last lead of the day.

Guatemala came back in the third inning. A walk and two hits loaded the bases for Juan Diego Montes, who singled home the tying run. Two batters later, Juan Alvarado knocked a two-run hit just inside the right-field line to give Guatemala a 3-1 lead.

Guatemala added three insurance runs in the sixth inning. Lemon Grove pitchers issued four walks, including two with the bases loaded, as Guatemala took a commanding 6-1 lead. 

“You just can’t walk guys with the bases loaded,” said California Coach Andre Simpson. “We gave them an inch and they took a mile. We just didn’t play our game.”

His pitchers combined to walk nine and give up seven hits.

 Guatemala starter Alejandro Amezquita settled in after getting the lead, retiring nine of the next 10 batters. After giving up a leadoff hit in the sixth on his 62nd pitch, Amezquita got the hook. 

Fernando Vals came on and struggled, walking a batter, then giving up a two-run double to Frankie Nunez to make it 6-3. But Vals got out of the inning, stranding a runner at third.

California tried to get something going in the seventh. Esteban Lieras delivered a base hit with two out, but Guatemala turned to closer Hans Werner, who quickly induced a ground ball for the final out.

The win made Guatemala a world champion in the 15-16 year old division of Little League. Guatemala joined six other Latin America regional winners who have left Bangor with a world title. 

And it will likely mean good times back home, according to second baseman Julio Alvarado.

“I think there will be a lot of parties because of us,” Alvarado said.