In final day of pool play at the 2011 Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series featured a number of key match-ups to determine which teams moved to the U.S. and international semifinal rounds capped off by an exciting game between two undefeated international teams.
Among those moving on is the tournament's Maryland representative from Charles County which didn't play Wednesday, but received a boost from some of those teams that did.
Japan tops Mexico
Japan (5-0) claimed the top seed in Friday's International semifinals after an exciting 2-1 win over Mexico in the final pool game of the 2011 World Series in Cal Sr.'s Yard.
Japan's Taisei Takeoka came into the game as a relief pitcher and left as a hero. Takeoka threw three and two-third innings of scoreless baseball to earn the win and had the hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With Japan trailing 1-0, Daisuke Sowa reached on a error by Mexico starting pitcher Martin Madrid, who had retired the first 10 batters he faced, striking out four.
Madrid then made his only mistake, leaving a pitch up in the strike zone that Takeoka, a left-hand hitter, hit the opposite way and out of Cal Sr's Yard for what turned out to be a game-winning home run.
Seemingly rattled, Madrid walked the next batter and was relieved by Luis Cruz. Cruz went on to retire all five batters he faced.
Mexico (4-1) took the lead in the top of the first with the rarest of long balls, as Madrid sent a high drive down the left field line that careened off the foul pole for a solo home run. There was a brief discussion among the umpires, but the play was correctly ruled a home run.
Mexico's best scoring chance the remainder of the game came in the fourth. Cruz and backup catcher Miguel Lopez hit consecutive singles to begin the inning. Both runners moved up a base on a passed ball, but Takeoka settled down and struck out the next two batters before getting the third out on a grounder to third.
Takeoka gave up a one-out single in the sixth, but again worked out of it with a strikeout and a grounder to second.
Madrid and Cruz each had two hits in the loss, the only players on either team with multiple hits.
Hawaii ousts Texas
Southwest champ Tri-Counties, Texas, had a chance to win the American Pool, but it had to defeat unbeaten Pacific Southwest champion Oahu, Hawaii, in the final American Pool game of the series earlier Wednesday.
Texas didn't win, however, as Hawaii overcame a 2-0 first inning deficit to win 4-2 at Wrigley Field. The win gave Hawaii a 4-0 mark and the American Pool top seed, while Texas slipped to 2-2 and out of Friday's U.S. semifinals.
The Texas loss was Charles County's gain, as the Maryland state champ grabbed the second seed from the American Division pool in Friday's semifinals. Hawaii will be the first seed.
Texas took a 2-0 lead over Hawaii in the bottom of the first.
Leadoff man Brody Gall singled to center and was sacrificed to second by Andrew Dvorak. Caleb Valchar then singled Gal to third and Ty Condel drew a walk to load the bases. Tanner Sembera also drew a walk to bring Gall in for a 1-0 lead.
Zach Smith then hit into a fielder's choice that plated Valchar for the 2-0 lead.
It didn't take Hawaii long to draw even. Nick Benner led off the top of the second inning with a single, and Micah McNicoll followed with a long blast over the left-center field fence to tie the game at 2-2.