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St. Thomas Beats St. Croix in Olympic Baseball Tourney, But Teams Need Work

Jan. 26, 2009 — The V.I. Olympic Baseball Federation held a triangular tournament over the weekend between St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. Martin, and on Sunday St. Thomas bested St. Croix 3-1 to claim top honors.
The two teams got to the finals after St. Croix beat St. Martin on Saturday in a matchup of one-loss teams. Akeem Francis pitched a smart game in earning the win on the hill for the St. Thomas squad, mixing in a lot of off-speed stuff with a sneaky fastball. Two St. Croix pitchers, David Pierre and Raydel Robinson, combined to strike out 13 batters while allowing a combined three hits, but it was not enough to overcome the five errors committed by their defense.
After the teams failed to score over the first two innings, Juan Santana gave St. Croix the early 1-0 lead, driving home Dwayne Harvey with an RBI single in the top of the third. St. Thomas answered with three unearned runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by a walk and two costly errors to take the lead for good at 3-1. A pitching duel ensued after the third inning and neither team was able to score the rest of the way.
The tournament was organized by the federation to analyze the V.I. baseball talent in hopes of picking a team to represent the territory in the 2010 Pan American games in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, according to VIOBF President Dennis Brow. Based on the performance over the three days, the V.I. teams have a lot of work to do defensively and offensively.
The lone positive that can be taken from this tourney was the plethora of young, live pitching arms that the federation can hopefully develop into a formidable rotation by tournament time next year. Defensively, the team will have to practice hard to cut down on errors. The V.I. teams committed a total of 16 errors between them in their two head-to-head matchups. With few exceptions, the hitters were not very patient at the plate and most were victimized by a lot of junk pitching. The St. Thomas team did flash some good speed on the bases.
At the best, the tournament gave the selectors a good idea of where the players are and just how far they have to go to be able to compete with the big boys of Latin American and Caribbean baseball.
The VIOBF will host an even more competitive tournament in August in the V.I. Caribbean Invitational baseball tournament. This tourney will serve as the launching pad for what the VIOBF will make into an annual event. The teams invited to this inaugural tournament are the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, Venezuela, St. Martin, and Aruba, along with the two V.I. teams. After that tournament, according to Brow, the final V.I. team will be selected from the St. Thomas and St. Croix squads to represent the territory in 2010.
The V.I. players should be in considerable better playing shape by the time August comes around, and should give a better account of themselves as one can only hope that this weekend's showing was a result of poor conditioning.
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