By URIEL C. QUILINGUING
Contributing Editor .
THE Philippine baseball team from San Isidro Elementary School, Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental settled for bronze in the week-long 2019 Little League Asia-Pacific and Middle East regional tournament in Hwaseong Dream Park, South Korea, last week.
Host and defending intermediate division champion South Korea retained the title via a 12-2 beating of another powerhouse team from Japan in the championship game.
The regional tournament ended Friday.
Delegation coordinator Raymund Antolo, who is human resource supervisor of the Department of Education in Region 10, said the Northern Mindanao-based team failed to score against the taller, bulkier and more skillful South Korean squad in the penultimate match.
“We only had four hits and reached only the first base,” Antolo told the Gold Star Daily. “Aside from their size, their skills in playing baseball are phenomenal. ”
He said even delegation head, Deped regional director Arturo Bayocot suggested that “height and good body structures should be considered in the (school, division and regional) selection of athletes.”
South Korea, which was bracketed under Pool A, blanked all of its opponents: 17-0 against China and 13-0 against Hong Kong in the single round-robin elimination games.
But the gutsy diminutive 13 members of the red-blue-and-white team, composed of 11 to 13 years old, bounced back, in their last match, against China and sealed the “David-and Goliath” match with 6-1 feat.
Earlier, under Pool B, Philippines won by default over Pakistan after losing to Japan, 3-11 in their second outing.
Pakistan, which failed to arrive due to travel document problems, was supposed one of the eight teams in the annual little league regional series. Aside from Korea, Japan, China, CNMI and Philippines, the other two are Hong Kong and India.
Their victory over the Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands in the opener, 5-1, was auspicious though, that they were headed for a repeat if the bronze-medal performance of the 2017 intermediate baseball team of Jimenez Central School, Misamis Occidental.
“So this is the second time that a Northern Mindanao baseball team represented the Philippines in the Little League’s Aspac regional tournament and brought home the bronze,” Antolo said.
He said the Philippines also won another bronze from the major division, composed of players 10 to 12 years old from a Tanauan City, Batangas.
The major division team of the Philippines also lost to host South Korea in the crossover stage, the latter eventually had seven runs in seven innings and limited eventual second-placer Chinese Taipeh in the championship game, 7-1.
With double- bronze feat, Philippines sealed its standing as the third-best country in Asia-Pacific and Middle East region for little league baseball.
Delegation head Arturo Bayocot, education agency’ director for Northern Mindanao region, gave a sculptured panika, a Higaonon headdress, to Korea’s little league baseball federation president Young Kwan Han.
This, after Han recognized Philippines’ participation with a memorial plaque, which Bayocot received.
Thailand shall host the 2020 Asia-Pacific and Middle East regional tournament.