Kings may need help from Panama, Thursday, to advance to World Series semi-finals
BANGOR, Maine — It looks like the Kennett Kings are going to need a little help from their friends, Chitre Little League of Panama, if they are to advance to the semi-final round of the Senior League World Series.
KAU (3-1) couldn’t make an early 3-0 lead, and lost a late, cold, windy contest to undefeated Panama, 5-3, earlier Thursday morning.
But that may be the last of their thoughts as catcher Eric Duerr appeared to be seriously injured in a collision at home plate in the top of the seventh inning and had to be removed from the field in an ambulance. Duerr, the team’s starting catcher and the son of KAU manager Todd Duerr, was hurt when he collided with Javier Garcia, who was trying to score on a single to center.
Centerfielder Drew Jarmuz fired a one-hop throw to the plate to get Garcia — Duerr held on, but was hurt. The injury stopped the game, as emergency personnel worked on Duerr and ultimately removed him from the field on a stretcher.
It appeared that Duerr took a knee to the head, but Coach Mike Pechin said he never lost consciousness. His father and his mother, Sue, rode along with him in the ambulance to a nearby hospital. But that one split second put things in perspective for the players.
“After the game, we had a team meeting,” said Pechin. “We realize that we’re up here to play baseball, but now the game is secondary. The boys are just devastated for him. We did ask the team if they wanted to continue on, and they said yes because they know how much this means to Eric. [The coaches] wouldn’t have blamed them if they said they wanted to leave. “
Ironically, KAU will need (3-0) Panama to come right back Thursday morning and defeat Laredo, Texas, to clinch a place in the semi-final round. If not, it could come down to tiebreakers, with KAU, Panama and Laredo all 3-1, if Laredo wins) — which may also depend on the outcome of Thursday’s contest (the tiebreaker is based on the number of runs given up per inning in the tournament — so a high-scoring affair tomorrow would be to KAU’s benefit).
KAU grabbed an early first inning lead when Jarmuz led off the inning with a double to center and then scored on Alex Pechin’s base hit up the middle. Pechin moved to third when Duerr reached on an infield hit. Pechin moved up to third on an error and Duerr, in a heads up move, followed to second.
Tucker Reese reached on a sac bunt, scoring Pechin, and then Duerr scored on a Jones sacrifice to give KAU an early 3-0.
That lead looked good until the fourth inning, when suddenly Pechin began to struggle with control, hitting the first two batters of the inning. After a bunt single, Luis Alonso drove in a pair of runs with a double. Another run scored on a wild pitch. Carlos Espinosa scored to give Panama the lead, 4-3, on a ground out, to tie the game. That was it for Pechin, who gave way to Ryan Barrett on the mound. With runners on second and third, Barrett induced Gertudis Tello to ground the ball to Eric Takoushian, who gunned him down at first to end the inning.
It looked like KAU might grab the lead right back, after Jarmuz slapped a two-out single toward left, and Pechin reached on an error. After Jarmuz moved up to third on the play, the Kings had runners on the corners with two out, but Duerr flied to center to end the inning.
After Barrett retired the Panama side in order in the fifth, KAU could only muster a two-out Andrew Jones single in the bottom half of the inning.
In the top of the sixth, Panama looked to do more damage, Alonso led off with a single to left, and then Juan Henriquez reached on an error by Reese. Then, after a passed ball by Duerr, both runners moved up, giving Panama runners on second and third with no one out. Then Francisco Perez walked to load the bases. Luis Mendoza’s fly to center scored Alonso, to put KAU down, 5-3. Bennett struck out Abel Frias, leaving runners at first and second, with two away. The Kings got out without further damage when Tello grounded into a fielders choice to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Jarmuz was hit by a pitch and stole second with two outs, but Pechin struck out to end the inning.
it looked like Panama would add an insurance run in the seventh, after hits by Garcia and Alonso, and Henriquez’ single to center, but Jarmuz gunned down Garcia at the plate with a one-hop throw when he tried to score from second to end the inning, prompting a collision that would halt game play for about 20 minutes, as medical workers tended to Duerr.
Once played resumed, as Duerr was to lead off the bottom of the seventh, Seth Singer replaced him in the lineup, and struck out to start the inning. Joe Zirolli flew out to center for the second out and Reese Tucker grounded out to end the game.