Ugandan team gets Africa's first win
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The first team from Africa in the Little League World Series will go home with one win.
"This was so great," Lugazi, Uganda, manager Henry Odong said after the 3-2 victory over Gresham, Ore., in a consolation game Tuesday.
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Earlier this year, Little Leaguers from Langley, B.C., travel to Africa to play the Ugandan Little League team that didn't get to travel to the United States for the Little League World Series last August because of problems with players' visas. Right To Play, a humanitarian organization with the motto "When Children Play, The World Wins," coordinated the game and events. Donors, major leaguers and ESPN The Magazine senior writer Steve Wulf followed along.
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Players Justine Makisimu, Ronald Olaa, Daniel Alio and Felix Enzama all said they thought they could win going into the game.
After watching Taiwan play, Odong said he impressed on the team just to make contact because "one of the biggest challenges we had was hitting." Each team had seven hits but Uganda had four of them in the two innings it scored.
"I'm thankful we could come here," Odong said. "This win was so great."
Oregon broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth when Hunter Hemenway tripled down the right field line, scoring Greg Mehlhaff and Tyler Pederson, who had singled.
Lugazi tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning on consecutive singles by Alio and Enzama. Alio eventually scored on a wild pitch and Enzama on a passed ball. Uganda had runners on second and third with no outs but Mehlhaff struck out two and got the third out on a ground ball.
Uganda grabbed the lead in the fifth when Olaa singled and Alio walked. Olaa scored the winning run from second when Oregon shortstop Brett Falkner's throw to first in an attempt to complete a double play went wild.
Alio, who struck out eight and walked two, reached his pitch count limit with one out in the sixth. After getting a second out, reliever Job Echon gave up a single but then got Ethan Marshall to line back to him to preserve the victory.
Uganda's official series record is 1-2 but the team plans on playing more friendship games.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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