Mexico bests USA Southeast in Cal Ripken World Series
ABERDEEN, Md. -- Vidal Sotelo was almost through explaining what it felt like to be a world champion when a pair of players from the Dominican Republic delegation interrupted his interview to offer a congratulatory high-five.
Roughly two hours earlier, Sotelo blasted a three-run homer in what became a five-run top of the first inning for Team Mexico in the 2015 Cal Ripken World Series finale against Team Southeast of the United States. The outburst amounted to all of Mexico's runs for Saturday night, but it was more than enough to secure a 5-3 victory and the World Championship title.
"I feel very happy because we won the championship," Mexico's manager, Jose Valdez, said through a translator. "The boys had a lot of fun. We won everything. With happiness, respect, responsibility, we had everything."
Mexico steamrolled its way through the entire tournament, winning all seven games it played by a 53-12 margin.
"You never want your season to end with a loss, but I'm so proud of our guys," Southeast manager Rick Pate said. "I mean, look at the scoreboard: one bad inning in the World Series game. Unfortunately it was too much to overcome."
Pate and his 13 players hail from Raleigh, N.C., the home of the United States champions for the past three seasons. On Friday night, Southeast won the national title, beating Mid-Atlantic 3-1.
"This has been an incredible week," said Southeast's Samuel Perez. "We accomplished so much as a team. We had a lot of pressure coming in because the team last year won everything, and the team before that was kind of in our same position, but I think we proved a lot of people wrong. It was just a great weekend, getting to know everybody, exchanging things, having fun. I'll never forget this."
Perez notched all three of Southeast's RBIs on the night, including one in the bottom of the sixth to bring the tying run to the plate.
Starting pitcher Roque Salinas kept the rest of Southeast's lineup off-balance for most of the night with a big-breaking curveball, but the final Perez RBI chased Salinas one out from victory.
His replacement, Joel Ibarra, induced an infield popout on the first pitch, swapping the script from a year ago when Southeast took the title game from Mexico.
When the victory lap around Cal Sr.'s Yard was completed and the fireworks show went dark, Sotelo explained what he'll take away from the experience.
"I wanted to appreciate that every country has a culture," he said through a translator, "and we need to appreciate them with respect and with responsibility."
After that, he went back to exchanging high-fives with players wearing all different uniforms.