Congratulations to Dominican Republic & Jackie Robinson RBI for winning the 2012 RBI World Series! Dominican picked up their third consecutive title in the Junior Division while Jackie Robinson Jersey City notched their program’s first title by winning the Senior Division.
Oscar Perez, the director of the Dominic Republic RBI program, said the team has been coming to the tournament for the last 10 years and that this win will help them to continue the success by bringing more attention to their team back at home.
“For us, it means a lot because that way we able to motivate and promote initiative for more kids in the Dominican Republic to join the program,” Perez said. “The program requires them to be a good student, to have discipline and baseball comes after that and we hope to keep on winning.”
Dominican Republic beat the Chicago White Sox RBI 5-1 after putting up three big runs in the first inning and relying on the pitching of Pablo Achoa who threw the entire game, allowing just one run after giving up six hits. Achoa’s performance earned him MVP honors for the championship game.
The senior league championship game had a little bit more excitement as Jackie Robinson RBI ended the game with a walk-off single by Willie Rivera to win the title 8-7 over Bradenton. Rivera was also named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“We lost three games in a row [heading into Saturday's playoffs],” Rivera said. “That just put us down. Our coaches told us after those three games, ‘Keep your heads up because we still have more games to win.’”
He added: “We were down four runs [in the championship]. We came back, we fought hard as as a team and we got the W.”
For Coach Ron Hayward, the win is more than just adding a trophy to their collection.
“We have great talent,” he said. “Our kids don’t get the looks a lot of these kids gets. You hear a lot of these kids talk about going Division I out here and my kids are hearing it and they want to know why they don’t get that. I’ve been there, I’ve been there when you wondered why you don’t get that respect that everyone else gets. My kids showed them that they want respect. It’s big for them to come out here and do what they wanted to do which is dominate.”
The RBI World Series finals have been set. On Sunday, the Dominican Republic junior team takes on the Chicago White Sox in hopes of notching their third consecutive RBI World Series title. Dominican Republic advanced after beating Venice, while Chicago found themselves in the finals after beating Atlanta.
For the seniors, Bradenton advanced to the championship after beating Detroit in extra innings. They will play Jackie Robinson RBI for the RBI World Series senior league title at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Jackie Robinson beat Houston Saturday to earn themselves a place in the championship.
Three games down, three more to go. That’s all that separates the RBI Junior League teams from the championship game, set to be played at Target Field Sunday morning. Their records mean nothing heading into the single elimination day.
That’s unfortunate for the Venice RBI team, who ended the week with a perfect record after defeating Harrisburg, Detroit and Jersey city. It’s no doubt frustrating but something Coach Erikk Aldridge has pushed his team to use as motivation as the tournament got underway.
“Our number one goal was to come out and play a good brand of baseball, regardless of the opponent, regardless of the situation,” he said. “We just want to come out tomorrow on elimination day and treat it as such. Respect our opponent and play the game hard and play the game smart.”
Venice’s #1 seed has them taking on Arlington at 8 a.m. Saturday at Neimann Field. If they win that game, they would play the winner of the Dominican Republic-Jersey City game in the semi-finals at 3:45 p.m. A two-game sweep would send Venice to the championship, a fete they’ve had their eyes set on since the RBI season got underway.
“That’s one of the main reasons why we came,” Aldridge said. “We have a lot of people back in Los Angeles, back in Venice who are supporting us — following the game online, following along on MLB.com and they want to see us play at Target Field.”
On the other side of the bracket, Atlanta holds onto the #1 seed in the South division. They play Detroit at 8 a.m., followed by Harrisburg vs. Chicago at 10:45 a.m. The winner of those two games will face each other in the semi-finals at 3:45 p.m. with the winner headed to the championship on Sunday.
Heading into Saturday’s playoff action, only one RBI Senior League team holds an undefeated record. Arizona RBI beat Harrisburg and Chicago on Thursday, followed by Jackie Robinson RBI on Friday to take the #1 seed in the North division. They are set to host Bradenton at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
While their performances over the last couples of days secured them a top seeding – and home field advantage – it means nothing once the playoffs begin.
“We still have a lot of hurdles,” Coach Glen Coleman said. “We still have a lot of things to get over and one of the biggest things is we can’t get too confident. We still gotta stay even-keeled and play the game the right way.”
This is Arizona’s first appearance in the RBI World Series. The program, started in the Phoenix area in 2010, saw early signs of success but the team couldn’t find their way past Venice in the West Regional Tournaments. After beating Arizona in the regional championship last year, Venice went on to win the entire tournament in Minnesota — earning their program’s first RBI World Series victory.
This year, the two teams found themselves matched up once again with a trip to Minnesota and the World Series back on the line. This time, it was Arizona packing their bags for the Midwest.
“It’s a full maturation process,” Coleman said. “It’s all about growing and over the last three years, we’ve done a lot of growing. We took out lumps in the regionals over last two years to Venice. This year we were able to overcome that.”
Bradenton is also in the midst of the program’s first RBI World Series. After becoming an official RBI baseball program in 2007, the team is very happy about the success they’ve achieved on the field and marks their impact on the community as an added benefit for the team.
“Bradenton in some parts, it’s not the cleanest, nicest area,” Peyton Hodge said. “As a baseball team, not only do we look good but we play good and we stand out as a positive in the community.”
The Chicago White Sox and Jackie Robinson RBI join Arizona and Bradenton as the other 8 a.m. game on Saturday; the White Sox earned themselves a #1 seed in the South region after picking two wins and a loss. At 10:45 a.m., Harrisburg hosts Houston at the Toni Stone Field in St. Paul and Venezuela plays Detroit at Parade Stadium.
The winner of the Arizona/Bradenton game will play the winner of the Venezuela/Detroit game, while the winner of the Chicago/Jackie Robinson match-up will play the winner of the Harrisburg/Houston game; both of the semi-final games will be played at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday with the winners advancing to Sunday’s championship at Target Field.
The Twin Cities already held a special place in the Davis family’s hearts. In 1991, Chili Davis won his 1st world championship as the Minnesota Twins defeated the Atlanta Braves, a series that many still consider to be the best World Series ever played.
After Arizona won the RBI West Regional Tournament, Kai Davis got to make a very special phone call to his father. Almost 21 years after the Twins’ spectacular victory, it was now Kai’s turn to come to Minnesota to compete in his own World Series. Like father, like son.
But Kai’s connection to the Minnesota Twins runs even deeper than his bloodline. He typically wears #34 to honor Kirby Puckett, a family friend who still influences the young player at the plate six years after his death.
“Kirby was bigger than life,” he said. “It was really fun seeing him, because he wasn’t just a good baseball player. He had a message when he was playing, he would really hold the team on his back.”
That mentally has helped push Kai throughout his baseball career. Living in Arizona, the teen had plenty of baseball programs to choose from but he was drawn to RBI for a very specific reason: the program’s emphasis on life outside of baseball.
“I just saw a further message that they are trying to send and for us to get [to the RBI championship] and kinda put Arizona on the map and have some more kids hear about us, that would be great,” he said. “I know it would be great for us too, we’ve been trying hard for a while.”
Heading into the second day of competition, Arizona holds onto a perfect 2-0 record, notching wins against Harrisburg and Detroit. The team plays Jackie Robinson RBI Friday at 11 a.m, their last regular game before heading into Saturday’s playoffs.
With his dad busy on the hunt for the postseason — he’s the Athletics’ batting coach — it was unlikely that he would have time to make it to Minnesota for the tournament. But that hasn’t stopped Kai from sharing his experience with his father.
“We’ve just been talking a lot, telling him how I’ve been doing,” Kai said. “He’s just been saying congratulations and just telling me to keep on going.”
Four games stand between Arizona RBI and the Senior Division Championship Game, a matchup that is scheduled to be played at Target Field. For every team in the RBI World Series, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But of course, for a boy who grew up watching — and re-watching — the ’91 World Series, he has his eyes set on a different arena.
“It would great to play in the Metrodome, just like the old days.”
A behind-the-scenes look at the RBI World Series.
Venice 6, Harrisburg 1
Dominican Republic 14, Arlington 0
Jersey City 4, Detroit 3
Chicago 9, Atlanta 5
Venezuela 5, Houston 4
Arizona 2, Harrisburg 1
Detroit 12, Jackie Robinson RBI 3
Bradenton 5, Chicago 3
The 16 RBI baseball teams in Minneapolis for the 20th anniversary RBI World Series spent time giving back to the Twin Cities community today. The teams took part in the tournament’s first ever service project, working at three different Boys & Girls Clubs and with the group ‘Kids Against Hunger’.
The Arizona senior league RBI team, along with the Atlanta & Venice junior league RBI teams, headed over to the East Side Boys & Girls Club to work on the center’s baseball field and play games with the children who are spending their summer at the club. Check out this video, highlighting their experience.
Dedication. It is a word commonly thrown around in the world of sports but it’s definition can hold many different meanings depending on whom it is referring to.
For Miguel ‘Cata’ Diaz, dedication is almost four hours of traveling — by boat and three different buses – to be with his team three times a week for practices at the Empresas Polar headquarters. His ‘commute’ begins long after his day has already started. Cata is a fisherman, helping his father provide for his mother and younger sister, their days typically starting as early as 4 a.m.
“We have a really tough situation back home,” he said. “That’s why I want to keep following my dream to help them, to be a better person so they don’t have to suffer with all the money issues.”
His family is his #1 priority, baseball a close second. But it’s that commitment to his family that pushes him on the baseball field, the hope that he might one day be able to provide them all by playing the sport he loves.
“I make that kind of effort because I’ve been playing baseball since I was eight years-old and this has been my dream,” he said. “I want to be a professional baseball player so that encourages me every single day.”
The Venezuelan RBI program has played a major role in Cata’s development as a player. With his managers guidance, he was moved from catcher to pitcher, a new role he is thriving in. But his managers’ roles in his life aren’t limited to baseball fundamentals.
“They help me to be a better person,” he explained. “They gave me the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic and now being here in the United States. Now I just can’t wait for it to be my first game so I can start pitching and do my thing.”
Cata and his Venezuelan senior teammates take on Houston during their first game Thursday, followed by an evening matchup against Detroit. The pitcher is excited to showcase his talent and hopefully bring a World Series trophy back to Venezuela, all of these opportunities ideally leading him down a path to play for his dream team, the Boston Red Sox.
The RBI World Series took over Target Field tonight as the 16 teams competing throughout this week’s tournament took to the field for a pre-game ceremony. For the two Chicago White Sox teams, it was an especially exciting experience because they were able to spend a few moments chatting with members of the Chicago White Sox — the team they have been representing throughout the RBI experience.