Victory for the UAE on Friday in their final game of the Little League tournament ensured they can return home from the Philippines with their heads held high.
Little League World Series: Zane Horger provides relief for UAE side
It may not have been enough to allow them to progress through to the play-off stages at the Asia Pacific and Middle East Little League tournament, but victory for the UAE on Friday in their final game ensured they can return home from the Philippines with their heads held high.
A 9-8 success over Guam at Manila, inspired by a strong pitching display from Zane Horger, ended a run of four defeats that had ended Joe Page's team's hopes of qualifying for the Little League World Series in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the reward for the top sides in the tournament, which concludes tomorrow with the final.
Horger had replaced Osama Hoshida as the pitcher early in the game, with Hoshida visibly struggling with an arm injury.
The UAE had made an impressive start to the game, picking up five runs in the first inning as their batters were twice able to load up the bases as they took a liking to the Guam pitching.
Horger impressed with his accurate pitching that proved difficult for the Guam batters to read.
He kept things tight throughout his spell against opponents who were under pressure to secure a win to boost their hopes of reaching the knockout stages, as Guam entered the game with a 2-2 record.
Horger was relieved during the fifth inning by Lukas Bley with one more out required.
Holding the advantage going into the final inning catcher Joe Sexton picked off a Guam base runner at second on a steal attempt and UAE centre fielder Ryan Hirsbrunner chased down a long fly ball holding a Guam player at first base, who may have scored had he missed the ball.
Bley battled through to find his third out on a strikeout throw down to first which threw the Guam hitter out. The victory ensured the UAE finish with a record of 1-4 from their group games, having earlier in the week-long event suffered reversals at the hands of Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.
While there maybe no further action for the UAE, the event goes on today with the group play-off matches before the final wraps up proceedings.
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