For the first time in its 10-year history in Aberdeen, a Maryland team will play for the United States Championship in the Cal Ripken World Series.
Upper Montgomery County, the Maryland state champion, played its way into Saturday's title game by beating Jupiter, Fla., 8-3, Friday at Cal Sr.'s Yard. Upper Montgomery will play the team from the Bronx, N.Y., at 5 p.m. Saturday in the U.S. Championship at Cal Sr.'s Yard. The New York team beat the Pacific Southwest team of Mililani, Hawaii, 9-8 in an extra-inning game that was interrupted by rain.
In the first game of the day, Republic of Korea advanced to its first International Championship of the Cal Ripken World Series with a 7-3 win over Dominican Republic at Cal Sr.'s Yard. The 6 p.m. contest between former champs Japan and Mexico saw three Japanese hurlers combine to toss a no-hitter, helping their team to a 6-0 victory.
With the victory, Japan will move on to play the Republic of Korea in Saturday's international championship game, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
MD moves on
"We played some of the best teams in tournaments up and down the East Coast to get the kids ready for this," Upper Montgomery manager Jody Pearre said. "I don't think they understand the moment they're in yet. Being on TV tomorrow is a big accomplishment for these guys."
The winners got a complete game pitching performance from J.P. Walsh, who also got his team rolling offensively with his bat.
Walsh put Maryland ahead in the top of the second inning, belting a home run to the deepest part of the park. The blast cleared the fence in dead center, scoring Jake Heskett, who had doubled, in front of him.
Maryland added a third run in the inning, courtesy of two walks and a Ryan Haddaway RBI groundout to lead 3-0.
On the mound, Walsh was able to keep the Jupiter hitters at bay, despite throwing mainly fastballs. Tyler Ward, however, found a pitch he liked, leading off the bottom of the second, and drilled a solo home run to center to put his team on the scoreboard.
It was an RBI single by Ward in the third that cut the lead to 3-2, after Walsh had issued two walks with two outs. Zach Mazur also singled to drive in the tie run.
The fourth inning proved to be the defining inning as Maryland sent eight men to the plate, collecting five hits and scoring five runs.
Brooks Bengtson had the big blow, a high, lofting three-run home run that just got over the left field wall.
Brendan Collins added an RBI singe in the inning and Haddaway drove in his second run of the game with a triple.
Walsh took it from there, allowing two hits over the final three innings. Walsh scattered seven hits, walked two and struck out five.
"I felt like he was on cruise control," Pearre said of his pitcher.
Austin Temple started for Jupiter and worked into the second inning, before Sean Maletzke came on in relief. Temple was charged with three runs, while Maletzke lasted two and third innings, giving up five runs on six hits.
Ward relieved Maletzke and retired all eight batters he faced, striking out three.
In the last contest of Friday's semifinal round, delayed by rain, the Middle Atlantic squad from Bronx, N.Y., and the Pacific Southwest team of Mililani, Hawaii, battled into extra innings, and after all was said and done, it was the New York side that prevailed, beating the Hawaiians, 9-8.