Panama City, Fla. 8, Marshalltown, Iowa 3
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ Little Leaguers who weren’t even born when Cal Ripken started his record streak of consecutive games are taking on some major-league traits.
Florida’s Mark Sauls wore an ice pack worthy of Randy Johnson on his right shoulder Monday after striking out 12 in a first-round win.
Rhode Island’s superstitious Tom Michael has taken to curling the bill of his cap in an upside-down ``U″ shape the exact same way for every game.
And his teammate, pitcher Brett Bell, donned a jacket to run the bases on a 70-degree night. He gives good quotes, too.
Asked about his two-run home run, the 12-year-old said in his thick New England accent, ``I watched it a little, but I didn’t Cadillac it all the way.″
Bell pitched a four-hitter, homered and doubled as the team from Cranston, a suburb of Providence, beat Moorpark, Calif., 5-1 before about 12,000 people at Lamade Stadium in north-central Pennsylvania.
Panama City, Fla., rebounded from Jeff Clement’s first-inning home run to beat Marshalltown, Iowa, 8-3. The favored Taiwan team beat the mostly American squad from Saudi Arabia 12-3, and the Dominican Republic beat Canada 5-1.
In today’s opener, Canada (1-1) beat Saudi Arabia 3-2, aided by the Dhahran team’s four errors in the first two innings. Pitcher Adam Loewen hit a solo home run and Canada scored in each of the first three innings in the closest game of the series so far. Matt Henne homered for Saudi Arabia (0-2).
Also today, Moorpark faced Marshalltown, Taiwan played the Dominican Republic and Rhode Island took on Panama City. The top two teams in each division _ U.S. and international _ will play in Thursday’s semifinals for a spot in Saturday’s championship. The series is for 11- and 12-year-olds, although some players will be 13 before it is over.
The Moorpark team was weary after playing three games Friday, including a 16-inning win, and nervous about being in the series, manager Hector Garcia said.
``We were just flat. We can come back. We’re a good team. I think we were nervous with the cameras, the lights and the crowd. This is the big time _ it’s the whole quesadilla,″ Moorpark shortstop Blake Sharpe said.
The superstar Monday was Hsieh Chin-hsiung, the dimunitive Tawain center fielder who went 4-for-4 with two home runs and four RBIs against Saudi Arabia.
He is good enough to bat third in the lineup for the team from Fushin elementary school in Kaohsiung, but hits only eighth because of stage fright. His manager, Ho Tung-yu, said through an interpreter that Hsieh performs better in the lower spot because he does not feel as much pressure.
Sauls, the Florida pitcher, put on an ice pack immediately after Iowa’s last out on the advice of the team’s traveling physical therapist and massage therapist, respectively Gail and Rick Harris, the parents of outfielder Ryan Harris.
``My curveball was on today, and I’ve got a good fastball to back it up,″ said Sauls, the coach’s son.
Florida’s Heath Anderson, Jody Posey and Josh Cooper hit home runs. Iowa’s Clement scored all three runs and hit a solo homer, his 15th in his last 16 playoff games.
The day’s only dustup _ and a minor one at that _ happened as batters from San Isidro, Dominican Republic, crowded the plate on Surrey, B.C., pitcher Anthony Miller.
Unsettled, he threw a wild pitch, walked two batters and gave up Julio Lara’s 220-foot, three-run homer in the first inning. He did strike out 12 in five innings.
``These guys swing real hard. When you make a mistake, you pay big,″ Surrey manager Harvey Friesen said.
Adam Loewen drove in Canada’s only run with a sixth-inning single.
One player tried to keep in perspective the hype surrounding the game _ from ESPN2′s coverage to souvenir fairs to crowds bigger than some drawn this season by the National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates.
``We didn’t get caught up in all the hoopla and all the bright lights. It’s just like a normal game down at our field,″ Rhode Island’s Tom Michael said.