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Guam makes history, qualifies for U-15 Baseball World Cup

Guam makes history, qualifies for U-15 Baseball World Cup
20/01/2020
It's the first time Guam has qualified for a WBSC event. The closest it ever came previously was a loss to South Africa in a playoff for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Guam defeated New Zealand, 12-0, on home turf at Paseo Stadium in Hagåtña to win the final of the Oceania Region Qualifier and earn a historic spot in the WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup.

Nolan Babauta, nicknamed Princess, dominated New Zealand from the mound. He allowed only two hits and helped himself with three RBIs on three hits, a couple of singles and a double.

The starter couldn't finish the game as a pitcher due to the pitch limits in this age category. "I came in strong, I was just so hyped," Babauta told the Guam Daily Post. "I wanted to finish the game, but I had to come out. I was just doing it for Guam and my teammates."

The U-15 Oceania Championship was a three-team tournament. New Zealand won two out of three games against Guam in round-robin play and finished first. Guam had to defeat the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in a one-game playoff to earn the right to compete for the title.

"It just goes to show that our boys have a lot of heart," said Ric Leon Guerrero, a member of Guam's coaching staff.

Guam joins Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Mexico (wild card), Panama, USA and Venezuela to have qualified for the WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup, which is tentatively scheduled to take place in July in Mexico. The last remaining spot has been filled by South Africa after the Africa Confederation confirmed them as the highest ranked team from the region.

It's the first time Guam has qualified for a WBSC event since becoming a member of the Baseball Federation of Asia (BFA) and of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) in the 1980s. The closest the federation has come in the past was a shot at the 2000 Olympics but lost a play-off against South Africa.

Baseball was imported to the island of Guam in early twentieth century by the American Administration. The golden age began after World War II. In the 1960s Guam teams participated in the Little League and the Babe Ruth World Series, and an adult league was born.

The adult league evolved in the Guam Major League in 1974. The league still exists in an eight-team format under the name Budweiser Baseball League. The Guam Amateur Baseball League was born in 1985 and grew to 20 teams by 1987. The Guam Amateur Baseball Association still promotes Spring and Summer Leagues.

Guam started competing internationally in the 1980s, hosting the four-team Western Pacific Invitational Baseball Tournament. The tournament was discontinued after the 1996 edition, the first that the Guam National Team won.

Steven DeSoto was one of the members of that Guam National Team. His son Makai DeSoto recently received a scholarship to play baseball from the Cochise Community College in Douglas, Arizona.

The cover picture is by Matt Weiss, The Guam Daily Post