Texas, Mexico get sec­ond chances in LLWS

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY JOE KAY

The ti­tle round at the Lit­tle League World Se­ries is flush with sec­ond chances.

Pear­land, Texas, hit a pair of homers in the bot­tom of the eighth in­ning Thurs­day night for a 9-7 vic­tory over Bonita, Cal­i­for­nia, and a berth in the U.S. cham­pi­onship game against what amounts to the tour­na­ment’s home team.

Af­ter Bonita pulled ahead 7-6 in the top of the sec­ond ex­tra in­ning, start­ing pitcher Ben Got­tfried hit a ty­ing solo shot and Caleb Low ended it with a two-run homer.

Pear­land will play un­de­feated Lewis­berry, Penn­syl­va­nia for the U.S. cham­pi­onship on Satur­day. The win­ner will face the In­ter­na­tional bracket cham­pion on Sun­day for the World Se­ries ti­tle.

Lewis­berry beat Pear­land 3-0 on Wed­nes­day night to earn a berth in the ti­tle game in front of an es­ti­mated 35,000 fans, most of them cheer­ing for the Penn­syl­va­nia team, which is only a twohour drive away.

“It’s go­ing to be crazy,” Pear­land man­ager An­drew Solomon said. “It was crazy out there last night. It’s go­ing to be fun, though.”

At least they know what to ex­pect from the crowd the sec­ond time around.

“They sounded like my mom when she’s mad,” Got­tfried said about the Lewis­berry fans, adding, “I prob­a­bly shouldn’t have said that.”

Low was re­placed by a pinch­hit­ter in his pre­vi­ous at-bat. He didn’t give his man­ager a chance to call for a pinch-hitter again in the eighth, sprint­ing out of the dugout with bat in hand when his turn came up.

“To be quite hon­est, Caleb ran out of the dugout so fast we didn’t have a choice,” Solomon said. “That’s the hon­est truth.” Re­ally, Caleb? “Kind of,” he said. “I felt more con­fi­dent tonight.”

Mex­i­cali Baja Cal­i­for­nia, Mexico, didn’t need any drama to beat Bar­quisimeto, Venezuela, 11- 0 ear­lier Thurs­day and ad­vance to the In­ter­na­tional ti­tle game. Mex­i­cali gets a re­match with Tokyo, which won their ear­lier matchup 3-1.

The in­ter­na­tional game ended not with a dra­matic homer, but with a swing-and-a-miss. Mex­i­cali play­ers ran from their po­si­tions to a spot be­tween the mound and the plate, cel­e­brat­ing their berth in the In­ter­na­tional cham­pi­onship game. One player was miss­ing. The last one to ar­rive was Daniel Zaragoza, who had to run all the way from right field — his po­si­tion for the fi­nal out. It was the only time all day that No. 18 wasn’t right in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing.

The left-han­der who pat­terns him­self af­ter Fer­nando Valen­zuela gave up only three hits, lead­ing Mex­i­cali to the win. He also had a two-run dou­ble that got it started.

Peer­ing over his tan-and-black glove to get signs from the catch and then de­liv­er­ing the ball with a de­lib­er­ate mo­tion, Zaragoza looked a lit­tle bit like the fa­mous Mex­i­can pitcher — also a lefty — who sparked Fer­nan­do­ma­nia with the Dodgers in 1981. Asked for his fa­vorite player, Zaragoza quickly an­swered: “Fer­nando.”

Why? Be­cause of his screw­ball. Can he throw one, too?

“No,” Zaragoza said. hard.”

Tokyo’s 3-1 win over Mex­i­cali early in the tour­na­ment puts a lit­tle ex­tra on the line.

“Base­ball gives you re­venge,” said man­ager Jorge Joel Ar­menta, who has a tat­too of a rosary and No. 69 — his num­ber as a player

“It’s — on his right fore­arm. “We want to play Ja­pan.”

Bar­quisimeto came within one strike of reach­ing the In­ter­na­tional ti­tle game on Wed­nes­day, be­fore Tokyo tied it with an RBI sin­gle in the bot­tom of the sixth and then won it with three runs in the eighth. Bar­quisimeto used up its pitch­ing staff in that one.

“Last night’s game hurt, but we came in fo­cused on to­day’s game,” man­ager Domingo A. Car­rasquel said. “Mexico just played bet­ter.”

Zaragoza’s dou­ble in the sec­ond in­ning made it 2-0. Al­berto Bus­tos had a two-run dou­ble in the third and a two-run homer in the fifth as Mex­i­cali pulled away. Catcher Raul Leon added a three- run homer, his sec­ond in two games.

Zaragoza gave up three sin­gles in 5 2-3 in­nings, leav­ing af­ter reach­ing the limit with 89 pitches. He switched po­si­tions with right fielder Ger­ardo Lu­jano for the fi­nal out, and then made the long jog back to­ward the mound to join the cel­e­bra­tion.

Mex­i­cali thinks it’s in a bet­ter place for the re­match with Ja­pan. The of­fense has come around — Leon, the cleanup hitter, has driven in eight runs in the last two games — and the pitch­ing and de­fense have re­mained a con­stant.

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