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.
Jacob Thompsen doubled in the second inning for Denver's only hit.
Prince George's perfect, too
Prince George's County (4-0) closed out a perfect week of pool play, beating Danbury, Conn., 5-2, at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
Javon Hernandez hit a two-run home run in the first inning to put Danbury ahead. The lead stuck into the fourth, but Prince George's scored two to tie and then added three in the fifth to win.
Noel Aristy, Jason Mackall and Ramel Washington each had one hit and one RBI for the winners.
Japan still unbeaten
Japan moved to 4-0 and claimed the top spot in Group C, beating previously unbeaten Puerto Rico, 6-2, at Nationals Park Wednesday. Puerto Rico is 3-1.
Puerto Rico took a 2-0 lead in the top of inning two on a long home run from Yediel Rodriguez. Angel Andrades had drawn a walk and scored on the blast.
Taiyo Hayashi answered for Japan leading off the bottom of the second, ripping a home run to left-center field. Japan added five more unanswered runs – four in the third inning and one in the fifth – to close out the game.
Ryusei Okamoto was the lone Japanese player with two hits. Luis Miranda had two hits to lead Puerto Rico.
Yusuke Kawanaka pitched three innings for the win, with relief from Ryusei Takeoka and Kosuke Nishjima. Rafy Gomez took the loss.
Mexican pitcher Fernando Villicana tossed a five-inning no-hitter Wednesday to lead Mexico past Korea, 13-0, and into the semifinals. The game was played at Nationals Park.
Villicana struck out nine and walked two in the win. Roque Salinas and Jesus Castillo supplied all the offense the winners might need.
Salinas homered and had a team-high three hits and four RBIs. Castillo also hit a long ball and finished with two hits and three RBIs. Alex Ballesteros was the only other Mexican player with multiple hits, collecting two and driving in three runs.
Korea used four pitchers in the game with Min Park taking the loss.
Canada gets win
Canada scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and added another in the fifth, on just two hits, to beat Dominican Republic, 4-2, Wednesday at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
The game was started Tuesday, with Canada leading 3-1 in the first inning when rain halted play. The result left both teams with 1-3 records.
Ryan McFarland had both Canadian hits and Matthew Dobberthien scored two runs. Justin Portes had an RBI and scored a run to pace the Dominicans.
Lukas Frers pitched into the sixth for the win, striking out seven. Johan Ferreira suffered the loss.
Prince George's beats Meridian
Prince George's County was outhit, 8-6, by Meridan, Idaho, Wednesday, but the Maryland champs won the scoring battle and the game, 5-1, at Citizens Bank Park.
The winners scored a single run in the first, before blowing open the game with four runs in the third. Noel Aristy singled in the first inning run and then belted a two-run shot in the third inning rally. Jack Bulger and Tremayne Cobb Jr. also had RBI singles in the third.
Gabriel Hughes, who led both teams with three hits, had Meridian's lone RBI in the sixth. Christopher Osorio threw five scoreless innings for the win, while Isaiah Vega, who had two hits, took the loss.
Bear wins two
Ten was the magic number for the boys from Bear, Del., Wednesday. Bear defeated Denver, Colo., 10-8, in nine innings at Citizens Bank Park and followed that with a 10-0 shutout of Homewood, Ill., on Cal Sr.'s Yard. The wins gave Bear a 2-2 record.
In the win over Denver, Bear overcame a 7-0 deficit as Denver scored three runs in the first inning and four more in the second. Denver added its eighth run in the fourth, while Bear scored three in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the sixth to extend the game. Bear then scored twice in the top of the ninth to win.
Garrett Casey and Jakob Hoffman had RBI singles in the ninth inning to give Bear the win. Hoffman finished with three hits and five RBIs. Hoffman and Shawn Haut Jr. hit home runs for Bear, and Jarrett Weglarz had three hits.
Fisher Mahoney (two RBIs) and Nathan Dinges led Denver with three hits apiece. John Michalek (two RBIs), Caleb Monroe and Blake Beauchene each had two hits.
In the win over Homewood, Bear pitcher Hoffman tossed a five-inning, one-hitter. He struck out five and walked three.
Offensively, Bear hitters pounded out 14 hits, six of them doubles. Hoffman homered, hit a double and drove in four runs. Noah Finocchiaro hit two doubles, while other doubles were hit by Mason Keene, Zachery Pritchard and Jarrett Weglarz.
Homewood's only hit came from Cecil Archbold III with one out in the top of the fourth.
Hanford edges Little Rock
Hanford, Calif., played its way into Thursday's semifinals on Wednesday, but needed a come-from-behind effort. Trailing 2-1 with one out in its last bat, Hanford rallied for two runs to beat Little Rock, Ark., 3-2, at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
Gavin Gamble ignited the winning rally with a bunt single. Will Springer followed with a single and Gavin Vangronigen added an infield single and on the play, an error allowed Gamble to score and both Springer and Vangronigen moved up a base.
Vince Rangel was intentionally walked to set up a force and Mathew Aguirre ended it with a single to left, scoring Springer. Aguirre homered for Hanford's other run.
Zac White led Little Rock with two hits. Rangel pitched five and a third innings, striking out six, but Springer pitched the final two-thirds to get the win.
Aussies edge New Zealand
Australia (3-1overall) scored 10 runs over a three innings to defeat New Zealand, 11-10, in a comeback win at Nationals Park Wednesday.
New Zealand, winless at 0-4 in its first ever series, held a 6-1 lead through three innings, but Australia scored five in the fourth and five in the sixth.
Down 11-7 in the bottom of the sixth, New Zealand made things interesting on Min Jae Kim's three-run home run. Jackson Schofield singled in the inning, but Australian pitcher Michael Tovey struck out the next two hitters to end the game.
Ky Jackson had two hits, including a home run and four RBIs to lead the Aussies. Ethan Stacey added two doubles and three RBIs and Travis Bazzana finished with a team-best three hits.
Kazuya Yasue had three hits for New Zealand.
Meridian beats Little Rock
Meridian closed out the pool play Wednesday with 12-1, five-inning win over Little Rock, at Cal Sr.'s Yard. Meridian finished at 2-2 and Little Rock, 0-4.
Through two innings the game was tight, with Meridian holding a 2-1 lead. Meridian, however, scored five in the third, one in the fourth and four in the fifth to win the game.
Hayden Cantrill and Braden Guerrero each had two hits and RBIs, while Braxton Mills and Tristan Ray had a hit and two RBIs apiece.
Joey McCracken and Evan Stewart had Little Rock's two hits and Stewart scored the run.
Noah Kraft, one of three Meridian pitchers, worked two innings for the win. Four pitchers worked for Little Rock, with McCracken taking the loss.