Clubs win RBI World Series championship for seventh and fourth times, respectively
By Allison Duffy
On Friday night, just before the Texas Rangers took on the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Park, all 16 teams participating in the 2015 RBI World Series got their moment in the spotlight when they were honored in a pregame ceremony, during which time they met Rays ace Chris Archer and RBI graduate Yovani Gallardo. The next morning, four of those teams returned to the same field for their championship contests.
The Junior Division championship between Houston RBI and Dominican Republic North RBI featured two teams that had finished 4-1 in pool play. It was clear from the outset that it would be a high-scoring affair, as Houston jumped on the board in the top of the first and the Dominican club quickly countered. By the end of the second inning, six runs had crossed the plate.
The D.R. broke open the 3-3 tie with a four-run third inning and never looked back, ultimately earning a 12-7 win in the title game. Shortstop and No. 3 batter Widimer Joaquin, the game's MVP, powered the winning team's offense with three hits, three runs and three RBIs.
Houston's bats were far from quiet, though, as the away team outhit their opponents, but they couldn't scrape together enough runs to prevail.
"This victory is the Dominican Republic showing the world that these kids coming from a Third World country can still keep their heads up, fight another day and bring home a championship," an emotional Jose Capellan, the team's manager, said after the game. "This is the biggest honor -- bringing a championship back to the D.R."
The Senior Boys contest got off to a slower start, as Miami Marlins RBI (4-1 in pool play) and Harrisburg RBI (4-0-1) traded zeroes through two. But thanks to some small ball in the top of the third, Miami got on the board first with a pair of runs.
The Marlins team entered this year's tournament with a bit of experience under its belt, as three of its players were members of last year's Junior Division championship squad.
"We have a lot of kids who grew up in this program, and this is their last year," said manager Andre Payne. "So win or lose, this game was emotional for them."
As the offense tacked on three more runs, a combination of Miami arms held Harrisburg at bay until the bottom of the sixth. That inning, the home team's bats rallied with a trio of doubles, scoring four.
Before the game, Harrisburg manager Rob Martin had shared some words of wisdom with his team: "I told them that the most expensive thing in life is regret, and to do everything they possibly can today on the field so that five or 10 years from now, they don't have to look in the mirror and say to themselves, 'I didn't give my teammates everything that I could have given them on Aug. 15, 2015.'"
While they certainly left everything on the field, Miami came out on top thanks to a scoreless seventh frame. Again, a shortstop was the MVP, as 17-year-old Bryan Lavastida took home the award on the strength of two base hits, an RBI, a stolen base and one run scored, which turned out to be the decisive tally for Miami.
"[This] win just put a cap on a goal that all of us had -- the 15 kids, the four coaches," said Payne. "It just put a cap on a really good summer."
A 30-minute documentary that gives an inside look into the baseball portion of this year's RBI World Series will air on MLB Network on Sunday, Aug. 30.
Allison Duffy is associate editor for Major League Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.