LAREDO, TX- Youngstown’s Astro Falcons were within one strike several times of facing Chinese-Tapei for the 2019 Palomino World Series Championship. For the second time in three days, Puerto Rico rallied in the seventh to take down Youngstown.
Ricky Havrilla was outstanding through five innings allowing just two hits and one walk and Youngstown had a 4-0 lead. Single tallies in the first, second, third, and sixth innings gave them what seemed a firm grip on defeating Puerto Rico for the second straight night. But suddenly the strike zone eluded Havrilla, and after three walks in the sixth, ironically his total for the entire summer in Youngstown’s Class B League, he gave up a two-run double cutting the score to 4-2. Justin Miknis got out of the sixth inning jam and had Puerto Rico down to their last strike on several occasions, but after several foul balls, an infield single trickled just far enough into left field allowing the winning run to score as Puerto Rico put up three runs in the seventh.
Offensively, Justin Miknis had two hits as did Lucas Gulczinski, one of which was a double. Chase Franken had an RBI triple, his third three-bagger of the tournament. And Brandon Gelpi hit a towering solo home run that gave Youngstown their biggest lead.
It was a heartbreaking ending to a four-day testament to guts and Youngstown grit. From the outset, Youngstown had the toughest bracket challenge of any of the ten teams in Laredo. Winning four games over the four days, Don Pletcher’s team did Y-town proud.
*Contributed by Mark Franken