Puerto Rico was nothing but spectators on the first day of the tournament but they looked rested and ready to go in their first game against New Zealand on day two of pool play at the Cal Ripken World Series in Branson, MO at BallParks of America. They came out sluggish but the bats woke up in the later innings and this propelled them to an 11-3 win.
Mana Kilkoro was on the mound for New Zealand. The big right-hander poses quite an intimidating presence on the mound to go with his hard fastball. Despite his final line, Kilkoro pitched an impressive game. He showed the ability to change speeds effectively but his control was inconsistent which caused him to run into some trouble.
His team took an early 1-0 lead on a single by Branson Matsumoto but it didn’t last long. Puerto Rico was able to wait out Kilkoro to draw a couple of walks until Jandaniel Gonzalez smoked a two-run single to go up 3-1. New Zealand would answer back as they drew back to back bases loaded walks to even the game at three.
Puerto Rico seemed to flip a switch in the fourth inning and wake the bats up. After two walks put runners on first and second, Bryan Gonzalez and Eric Correa delivered two straight RBI singles. Adiel Rivera would deliver the big blow, a three-run line drive homer to left center field. This gave Puerto Rico a comfortable 8-3 lead.
Jandaniel Gonzalez was awarded the Youth1 Player of the Game Award. He went 2-3 in the game with that single and a two-RBI triple. He also walked once and scored two runs. Gonzalez hit in the top spot of the order and rightfully so with the speed that he has. Another quality Gonzalez possesses is sneaky power in a small frame and he displayed it on his triple that missed leaving the ball park by only a few feet.
Puerto Rico showed that they can hit the ball and put up runs in bunches. They will look to continue their hot hitting on Monday against Australia. New Zealand will also be in action against the Bahamas.
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