It was about three weeks ago that Churchville's Olga Perkins got a phone call from 12-year old Alejandro "Chuckie" Canales of Mexico City.
"Chuckie asked me if his room was available," said Perkins, who with her husband, Bob Perkins, are one of the host families for the second Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen.
"I told him, your room is always available."
Canales is the only returning player on the defending champion Mexico team that is off to a 2-0 start in this year's series after an 8-0 victory over the Dominican Republic (0-1) yesterday.
Ivan Tinoco walloped a 250-foot, three-run homer and Michael Alvarez fired a one-hitter for the victors, who were vigorously cheered on by the Perkinses. Olga waved the team flag behind Mexico City's first base dugout to get the other host families and fans cheering.
The Perkinses are once again hosting four of Mexico's players, including Canales. After the game yesterday, the Perkinses also hosted what is becoming an annual cookout, inviting the entire team, coaches and the five Mexican families who made the journey to Aberdeen to their Churchville home.
Host families are vital to the success of youth tournaments such as this. With 13 of the 15 Ripken World Series teams needing housing for the 12-year-olds, 70 families in the Aberdeen community again answered the call.
The Perkinses have kept in touch with all four players they hosted last year, including series Most Valuable Player Nestor Lopez Zamora. Zamora spent the Christmas holidays with the Perkinses.
"We talked to Nestor every few weeks and flew him back here for 12 days, and he spent Christmas with us," Bob Perkins said. "He saw snow for the first time and we took him to the Ravens' playoff loss to Tennessee. And he worked out indoors with Billy Ripken."
Added Olga: "We consider them our kids."
Canada, Hawaii win
A pair of 1-0 games were played yesterday. Canada edged Australia, and Oahu, Hawaii, nipped Pine Bluff, Ark., in a contest featuring 25 strikeouts. Daniel Campagne scored the Canadians' run in the third inning, and the Aussies had a runner thrown out at home to end the game.
Left-hander Jarrett Arakawa pitched a three-hitter with 13 strikeouts to best Pine Bluff's Claude Johnson.
Johnson, who struck out 12, gave up his fourth hit to Jordan Oshiro leading off the bottom of the sixth. Oshiro came around with the only run on a pair of passed balls and a wild pitch.
Churchville drops opener
Host Churchville was three-hit by two Raleigh, N.C., pitchers in losing its opener, 8-0, in the first game yesterday at Ripken Stadium. ... Saturday's suspended game between Greenwich, Conn., and Kennewick, Wash., was completed yesterday morning at Cal Sr.'s Yard, with Greenwich prevailing, 8-6. That was the score when the game was halted in the bottom of the fifth because of rain. T.P. Loftus went 4-for-4 and notched a save for Greenwich.