CLARK FREEPORT ZONE – Host Philippines experienced mixed fortunes as four of its teams split their respective opening assignments in the 2013 Little League Asia Pacific and Middle East Tournament which kicked off Monday at the Clark Parade Grounds here.
Iloilo Province got off to a fiery start by blanking Indonesia in an abbreviated outing, 23-0, in Little League Baseball, while Muntinlupa flashed impressive form in a 16-3 beating of Saipan in the inaugural intermediate baseball 50/70 division.
The twin victories made up for the sorry losses suffered earlier by the Filipinos in Little League Baseball and Junior League Baseball, respectively.
Tanuan City got ambushed by Indonesia, 0-10, in the majors, while Tanauan's Senior Leaguers fell to mighty Chinese-Taipei, 0-21.
Iloilo leaned on the superb pitching of Royeve Palma and its hot batting to shut out Indonesia, the team's lone rival for the Asia Pacific and Middle East title and a berth to the World Series.
The Ilonggas need just two more wins against the Indons in this best-of-five affair to book their ticket to the world tilt.
“I'm not really surprised with the result. I have confidence in my No. 1 pitcher. She was one hit short of a perfect game,” said Iloilo coach Rey Fuentes of Palma, who also extinguished nine of batters she faced.
Iloilo quickly took control and unloaded five runs off two hits and an error in the first inning, then made mincemeat of Indonesia's pitching with 12 hits it converted into 13 runs for an unassailable 18-0 tear.
“My instruction to the girls is to treat every game like a championship game, let's not give the opposing team a chance to gain confidence against us,” said Fuentes.
For its part, Muntinlupa quickly asserted itself against Saipan with Luis Benedicto blasting a grandslam to anchor a 10-run spree.
“We started well. Chris Clark pitched well in the first two innings and our hitting also clicked,” said coach Joel Palanog.
Tanauan's Little Leaguers surrendered four runs to the Indons early on, including a two-run homer by Ega Alexander, and failed to recover and never got going against a rival that paraded six Japanese and an American expat.
It was no different for the Tanauenoes' juniors bets who just couldn't keep pace with the rampaging Taiwanese.
Meanwhile, the host unravels reigning Big League Softball champion Manila South today in Day two of the weeklong event presented by Clark Development Corp, the Philippine Sports Commission and KFC.
The Manilenas take on Guam in the double round robin format tournament at 11 a.m.