Harford County's tournament host team, the Hickory Hornets, suffered their first loss in Cal Ripken World Series pool play Wednesday morning, falling 6-3 to West Raleigh, N.C., at Nationals Park in the Ripken Experience presented by Under Armour complex in Aberdeen.
Despite the loss, Hickory (Group B No. 2 seed) will play in the tournament's United States semifinal round Thursday at 12:30 p.m. against Prince George's County (Group A No. 1 seed).
West Raleigh (Group B No. 1 seed) will meet Hanford, Calif., (Group A No. 2 seed) in the other U.S. semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
In International semifinals, Group C No. 1 seed Japan (4-0 overall, 3-0 pool) will face Group D No. 2 seed Republic of Korea, (2-2, 2-1) at 3 p.m. In the last semifinal of the night, Group D No.1 seed Mexico (2-2, 2-1) will meet Group C No. 2 seed Puerto Rico at 8 p.m.
Game restarted from Tuesday
Hickory managed just four hits in its contest, a continuation of Tuesday's game that was stopped in the bottom of the second inning because of rain, with the score tied 1-1.
West Raleigh, the tournament's defending U.S. champion, had a runner at second with no outs when play was stopped. That runner, Paul Rider, scored the go-ahead run just a few minutes into Wednesday's resumption, when Jake DeFranco doubled to right-center field.
West Raleigh got back on the scoreboard in the third, plating two more runs for an 4-1 lead. A walk to Koen Moreno and a single by Garrett McCraw, set the table for Matthew Willadsen, who doubled in both runners.
Hickory (3-1) got a run back in the fifth, when Garrett McIlhenney, Hickory's pesky left-handed leadoff batter, hit a pitch the opposite way and over the left field wall.
"It felt really good, being a leadoff hitter and hitting a home run, because it doesn't happen a whole lot to me, it's one of the best feelings of my life," McIlhenney said of his shot. It was his second home run of the series.
West Raleigh also added a pair of runs in the fifth, however, with Willadsen's one-out double starting the rally. Hickory pitcher Tyler Schimming got the next batter out, but Nolan McClean singled in Willadsen and Lane Rhodes singled in McClean, who was balked to second.
Hickory's last at-bat produced another run, but with the potential tying run at the plate, the game ended with a ground ball to second.
In Tuesday's abbreviated start, Hickory's run came after McIlhenney singled. He then scooted to third on a passed ball and scored on another passed ball.
A Schimming single and Tyler Leach double were Hickory's other two hits for the game.
Bobby Duffy took the loss, working two innings in relief of starter Austin Rohlfing. Schimming also pitched two innings.
McClean pitched four innings to earn the win, striking out six. Willadsen threw two innings in relief.
West Raleigh finishes unbeaten
West Raleigh (4-0) closed out pool play with a 10-0, four inning win over Denver at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
Winning pitcher Carter Holjes and Willadsen combined on a one-hitter to complete the pool play perfect.
Koen Moreno belted a home run in the win, while Holjes, Garrett McCraw, Nolan McLean (two) and Paul Rider (two) all hit doubles.