x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Falcons ousted from tournament

The Dubai Falcons, representing the UAE, began the Middle East/Africa Little League baseball tournament by giving perennial power Saudi Arabia a scare.

The Dubai Falcons, representing the UAE, began the Middle East/Africa Little League baseball tournament by giving perennial power Saudi Arabia a scare. They ended it by giving the shirts off their backs to the team from Uganda. "I get a little choked up thinking about it," said Kelly Jones, a coach with the Dubai team. "When our boys gave their shirts, their caps to the kids from Uganda, it was just a great moment."

In recent years, Dubai have been prime contenders to win the tournament for 11 and 12-year-old boys in Kutno, Poland, and advance to the Little League World Series in the US city of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This year, however, the UAE team lost four of five games, including the consolation championship game to the Reverend John Little League from Kampala, Uganda, 7-1 on Saturday. Jones said the team from Uganda, where baseball remains a novelty, were the most impressive at the tournament, adding: "They were a powerhouse."

The Saudi Arabians lost to Uganda 9-3 in pool play, but the winning team's manager was banished from his side's next game for allowing a 10-year-old, who was ineligible, to coach third base, in violation of Little League rules, and the leaderless Ugandan boys lost to Kuwait 9-6. Kuwait faced Saudi Arabia for the regional championship, and the Arabian American Little League all-stars from Dhahran won 12-0 to book a place in Williamsport for the 11th consecutive year.

Jones said the Uganda team, who missed playing for the championship on a tiebreaker, "were devastated, shattered". Among the Dubai Falcons players who had strong tournaments were Faiz Moosa, the pitcher who had a complete game against Uganda, and Isaiah Jones, the catcher who was 7-for-11 with two walks and a home run. poberjuerge@thenational.ae