Martinez-Evans’ climb to the Senior League World Series championship was halted Friday in the semifinals with a 5-4 loss to the team from Chitre, Herrera, Panama.
The game, which took more than four hours and was marred by five ejections on Panama’s side, ended in the bottom of the 12th inning.
Martinez-Evans held a 4-3 lead and Panama had runners on second and third when Jesse Ibarra threw a wild pitch, allowing Panama’s Eduardo Sandoval to score from third. Catcher Jose Nogueras’ throw to Ibarra, who was covering the plate, was high and got past him.
Javier Garcia came around to score the winning run.
“They rose to every occasion this game,” Martinez-Evans coach Matt Brosious said of his team. “At the end, it just didn’t go our way, but I’m proud of the guys.”
Martinez-Evans had taken the lead in the top of the inning on a bases loaded walk to Elliot Melton.
To even get to that point, the U.S. Southeast Region champions needed a little magic. In the bottom of the seventh, Martinez-Evans was down to its last strike with the bases loaded and trailing 2-1.
On a 0-2 count, left fielder Kyle Cartledge punched a single into right field to score Nogueras.
“At that point, you’re kind of thinking boy, it’s not looking good. What’s my speech going to be to the team after we lose,” Brosious said. “Then Kyle comes through with a big, big hit. He’s been clutch for us, as many of the other guys have been throughout the year.
‘‘So, you always have confidence that your players are going to come through for you.”
The game also had its share of controversy, which began in the first inning. A Panamanian player and coach were thrown out of the game after a hitter came to the plate with an illegal bat. Then, in the 11th, another Panamanian player, coach and an interpreter were all ejected when the player intentionally stepped on first baseman Wilfredo Colon-Rios’ foot on a groundout to end the inning.
The loss brings an end to a summer-long adventure for Martinez-Evans.
“The whole thing has been a journey,” Brosious said. “We’ve had some ups, we’ve had some downs. We’ve grown really close as a team and become a family.
‘‘The hardest part of the whole thing is that it’s over with. You kind of just wanted it to keep going, but it’s been fun.”