Panama City, Fla. 8, Marshalltown, Iowa 3
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ The ending was better than the beginning for Panama City, Fla., in Monday’s preliminary round of the 50th Little League World Series for 11- and 12-year-olds.
Stung by Jeff Clement’s first-inning home run for Marshalltown, Iowa, Panama City came right back with homers by Heath Anderson and Jody Posey in the bottom of the first and went on to an 8-3 victory.
``It was like, `You fire your cannon, so we’ll fire our cannon back,‴ Panama City coach Dennis Sauls said about his team’s answer to Clement’s 15th home run in 16 playoff games.
In Monday’s opener, Julio Lara’s three-run homer powered San Isidro, Dominican Republic over Surrey, British Columbia, 5-1. Also, Kao-Hsuing City, Taiwan, defeated Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 12-3. The Taiwanese have sent a squad to the series of 21 of the last 28 years.
The Dominican Republic advanced to Tuesday’s game against Taiwan. The Canadian team from suburban Vancouver will next play Saudi Arabia in the international division of the round-robin tournament.
The top two teams in each division _ U.S. and international _ will play in Thursday’s semifinals for a spot in Saturday’s championship.
Josh Cooper also homered and Mark Sauls struck out 12 for Panama City.
``My curveball was on today, and I’ve got a good fastball to back it up,″ said Mark Sauls, the coach’s son.
His right arm was packed in ice at a postgame news conference. The team travels with a physical therapist and a masseuse _ the parents of outfielder Ryan Harris _ to keep pitchers loose.
The homers by Posey, at 189 pounds the heaviest player in the tournament, and Anderson were quick answers to Clement’s shot. Panama City scored three runs in the fourth on Cooper’s home run, Anderson’s single and Sauls’ sacrifice bunt, and three more in the fifth on Trey Shields’ single and a passed ball on Marshalltown catcher Mike Mogard.
Chris Sison went 2-for-2 and scored two runs for Panama City, the first Florida team in the series in five years.
Marshalltown (0-1) will play the loser of Monday night’s game. The Iowans went with 11 players, three fewer than the other teams, because manager Brad Clement wanted to worry less about playing everyone. All 11 played on Monday.
The younger Clement scored all three runs for Marshalltown, and could pitch again as soon as Wednesday on two days’ rest _ two fewer than most major leaguers get _ if the Iowans must win to advance.
In the third game, Chin-Hsiung Hsieh, one of the smallest players on the field, went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and two home runs, including a solo homer that gave Tawain a 3-0 lead in the second. Tawain (1-0) scored five runs and sent 10 batters to the plate in the third with help from Matt Ballard’s two wild pitches.
Ballard, who struck out six, and Andrew Chan drove in runs for Dhahran (0-1) in the third. Matt Henne drove in another in the fifth with a single.
In the first game, pitcher Anthony Miller of Canada took the loss despite striking out 12.
The Dominican batters crowded the plate to try to reach Miller’s curveballs. Unsettled, he threw a wild pitch, walked two batters and gave up Lara’s 220-foot home run in the first inning.
``These guys swing real hard. When you make a mistake, you pay big,″ said British Columbia manager Harvey Friesen.
Darwing Hernandez gave up only three hits for the Dominican Republic (1-0), a team of children of personnel in that nation’s air force. Romer Guillen also homered for the Dominican Republic, which last had a team reach the World Series final in 1983, when they lost 3-1 to Marietta, Ga.
Adam Loewen drove in Canada’s only run with a sixth-inning single.