Tenn., Panama Stay Unbeaten at Little League World Series
Aug 19, 2012 06:39 PM CDT
Petaluma, Calif., second baseman Porter Slate (6) dives to make the tag on Goodlettsville, Tenn.'s Brock Myers (25) to end a rundown between second and third during LLWS in South Williamsport, Pa., Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012.(Gene J. Puskar / AP)
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SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — After his home run sailed over the left-field fence, Brock Myers raced around the basepaths as if he was running a 40-yard dash.
The soft-spoken, Myers played it cool later in front of reporters, but Tennessee manager Joey Hale insisted on giving the 12-year-old Myers and his clutch-hitting teammates the star treatment.
Jayson Brown broke a 5-5 tie by hitting a 1-2 pitch down the right-field line for a two-out, two-run triple in the top of the sixth, and Myers followed with his two-run shot to left to lift the team from Goodlettsville to a 9-6 win over the prolific sluggers from Petaluma, Calif., on Sunday at the Little League World Series.
Tennessee is unbeaten in the tournament, joining Panama, which beat Canada 8-3 earlier Sunday.
Hale's team had a tougher time against a California club that slugged four homers on the afternoon. Petaluma's powerful hitters are rarely out of any game the way they swing the bats, so Myers' blast helped ease his skipper's mind.
"They were pretty big ... Brock. Going up by four, it was pretty nice," Hale said.
Myers smiled briefly and shrugged his shoulders.
Brown, also 12, simply said afterward the big inning was "pretty awesome."
But the game was pretty tight going into the sixth, with 17,000 fans watching in the stands and millions more watching on national television.
After scratching out two first-inning runs on a fielder's choice and passed ball, Petaluma turned up the power. Six-foot-3 Bradley Smith, 12, got the spree started with a homer down the left-field line.
With two blasts in two games, Smith has already become one off the most feared hitters in South Williamsport.
"If you're hitting the ball like that, you want him to step up to the plate as much as possible, but the rules only call for you to hit at certain times," manager Eric Smith said.
Kempton Brandis and Porter Slate also homered on the afternoon, and Cole Tomei slugged a solo shot with two outs in the sixth.
Slate then draw a walk, but reliever Jake Rucker got a force at second to end the game — two batters before Smith's place in the order.
"I wasn't nervous at all," Myers said. "I knew Jake was going to get the next" out.
While the California kids were understandably down, Smith urged his players to shake it off the disappointment to start focusing on Monday's elimination game against New Jersey.
"It's a strong group of kids and we can hit the ball," he said. "We're in any game."
So is Tennessee, which also scratched out runs with aggressive baserunning.
Rucker went 3 for 4 with three runs, scoring on a passed ball and two fielder's choices. He also earned the win in relief.
PANAMA 8, CANADA 3
James Gonzalez had two homers and six RBIs, including a grand slam, for Aguadulce, Panama, After leaving the bases loaded and having a run taken off the board in the first due to a runner leaving early, Panama broke out for six in the second. Carlos Flavio started the outburst with a solo homer. Edisson Gonzalez also had an RBI single before James Gonzalez hit his grand slam against the Canada region champs from Vancouver.
James Gonzalez, 12, became the first Panama player to hit a grand slam and two home runs in the tournament.
Panama pitching limited a Canada team that scored 13 runs in a win Friday over Mexico. Edisson Gonzalez and Daniel Cruz combined for 13 strikeouts.
"That was probably the best pitching team we've seen. They had good fastballs and good breaking balls," Canada manager Vito Bordignon said. "We had difficulty adjusting today."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)