Tokyo 9, Toronto 8
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ Big Julian Vandervelde plays football in the fall, and eats pitchers for lunch in the summer.
Sparked by Vandervelde’s two-run blast, Davenport, Iowa, beat winless Goffstown, N.H., 5-0 in the Little League World Series on Monday. It was the Central Region’s first win in Series play since 1996.
Then again, few teams from anywhere have an intimidating presence such as the 6-foot-2, 231-pound Vandervelde, who plays both linebacker and tackle.
``We grow them big (in Iowa),″ Davenport manager Matt Kolar said. ``I don’t know how many teams have one guy that can put the ball out of the park every other time up if you’re not careful. And that’s big because runs are hard to come by.″
Ahead 1-0, the first baseman slammed a two-run, 239-foot shot off the hedges beyond the center-field wall in the third inning.
``I don’t usually expect the home runs to go because we’re facing the best pitchers in the country,″ said Vandervelde, who failed to hit a homer in seven regional tournament games.
``I thought it was going to hit the fence when it first went off the bat, because I usually don’t hit line drives all that far. But yeah, I’m glad it went anyway.″
In the day’s other game, Tokyo improved to 2-0 by hanging on for a 9-8 win over Toronto. Two other games were scheduled: Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, took on Maracaibo, Venezuela; and Bellaire faced Vancouver, Wash.
Davenport pitcher Dan O’Donnell _ 10-0 in All-Star play _ threw a two-hitter and struck out seven. Michael Mitchell had a hit and scored three runs.
Alex Sobolov had a double and Jarek Ostrowski singled for Goffstown, which dropped to 0-2 following Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Bellaire, Texas.
In two games, Goffstown has yet to score a run and managed just three hits.
``These are the best pitchers in the country and we’re having a hard with the mixing (of pitches),″ Goffstown manager Frank Szumiesz said. ``We’ve just got to refocus.″
Mitchell opened the scoring in the first when he reached third on a pair of errors and then came home on a wild pitch.
Up 3-0, Davenport scored two more runs in the fifth inning on O’Donnell’s RBI single and Vandervelde scoring on catcher’s Stephen Desjarlais’ errant pickoff throw to third.
Earlier in the day, Toronto rallied for six runs in the sixth, pouncing on reliever Hayato Ohmae, who was pulled after Julian Olibera’s two-out, three-run homer cut Tokyo’s lead to one.
Daiki Ichimura relieved and got Ozzie Diaz to pop out to second baseman Yuusaku Nakanishi to end the game.
While Tokyo manager Masumi Ohmae blamed himself for inserting his son in relief in the sixth, Toronto manager David Trimble was bolstered by the way his team didn’t give up.
``Let me put it this way. We’d love to have a shot at Japan again in the playoff game,″ Trimble said, referring to Thursday’s International Pool final.
Masumi Ohmae agreed, initially saying he would like to face Toronto once more.
Then, speaking through interpreter Bill Lundy, a smiling Ohmae rephrased his answer, saying: ``We’d like to beat them again in the International Championship.″
Tokyo, coming off Sunday’s 10-0 win over Maracaibo, has all but mathematically clinched a spot in the pool final. Toronto has two games remaining.
Toronto’s rally overshadowed Tokyo starter Kazuma Yamada’s great pitching and offensive performance.
Yamada threw a three-hitter, smacked two home runs and drove in six runs, giving him a Series-high eight RBIs in two games. He had a three-run shot in the first inning and a solo shot in the sixth.
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