Activities from the opening day of the 2015 Cal Ripken Jr. World Series. (Matt Button and Dan Griffin, Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Sunday's pool play in the 2015 Cal Ripken 12U/Major 70 World Series wrapped up in the evening with the series' most successful international teams over the past several years: Mexico and Japan.
They played back-to-back games at Cal Sr.' Yard and each came away a winner.
Mexico, aided by back-to-back home runs in its first at bat, defeated Republic of Korea, 3-1, in international group D play. Japan, meanwhile, knocked off Puerto Rico, 10-0, in four innings, in Group C play.
In Mexico's win, Jorge Ramos hit the third pitch he saw over the center field wall, where Joel Ibarra hit the very next pitch in his at-bat. Mexico (1-0) added a third run in the inning when Roque Salinas singled and came around to score on a wild pitch.
Mexican lefty Vidal Sotelo shut out the Korean batters for three straight innings. Korea appeared to have scored twice in the top of the first, but a runner's interference on a ground ball toward third wiped out the runs. Sotelo rolled on from there.
Korea (0-1) did push across a run in the fourth. Wooin Choi doubled with one away and moved to third on Yeongho Yoo's single. Choi then scored on the play after an error was charged to pitcher Sotelo.
Sotelo cruised into the sixth inning and was one out away from a complete game when Korea put together a serious scoring threat. Choi, Yoo and Mingyu Kim hit consecutive singles to load the bases, forcing Mexico manager Jose Valdez to make a change. Ibarra relieved Sotelo (eight strikeouts, two walks) and with one pitch, got Korean catcher Seonghun Jung to pop out to first to end the game.
Through translator Anwar Perez, Valdez said "I was very happy with the team today and that they played very hard today. After the game last night [8-2 win over Japan], I have confidence in this team. We struggled in that last inning, but it was very good for our team."
Both teams had five hits, with Choi and Yoo of Korea having multiple hits. Starting pitcher Jaeyoung Jang pitched three innings for Korea in the loss.
In Japan's win Sunday, the team's 8-9 hitters put the club ahead in the bottom of second inning. Yutaro Hamaguchi singled in the first run and Tatsuki Okamoto followed with a double, scoring two more.
Japan pitcher Ryu Taguchi was sharp on the mound early, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out seven through the first four innings. The defense also supported Taguchi in the fourth, turning a 6-4-3 double play, followed by a nifty grab and putout by first baseman Yushin Shimada.
Japan added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth off Puerto Rico reliever Josue Vasquez. The inning started with a walk to Shimada and quickly exploded into a seven-run, game-ending rally.
Okamoto doubled in the first run and then scored on Nao Kaneko's single. The third run scored on a throwing error. Akira Azuma and Shimada added RBI singles in the inning.
Sabin Ceballos and Luis Rodriguez had hits for Puerto Rico. Okamoto finished with two hits and three RBIs to lead Japan.
The Mid-Atlantic champ, East Brandywine, Pa., improved to 2-0 Sunday with a 5-2 National Division (Group B) win over Midwest champ, West Fargo, N.D., at Nationals Field. It was West Fargo's first game.
The winners had just four hits, but Cole Rupp's solo home run was one of them. Matt Turner had the other extra-base hit – an RBI double – for the Pennsylvania club. Two of the other three runs scored on West Fargo errors.
Brayden Jacobsen supplied West Fargo's scoring, belting a two-run homer in the fourth inning. The blast cut the East Brandywine lead to one, 3-2, but a two-run rally in the sixth secured the win.
Jacob Massa pitched three plus innings to get the win, while Jacobsen went the distance in the loss.
New Zealand knocks off Aussies
New Zealand, a newcomer to the series last year, earned its first-ever win Sunday, beating neighbor Australia, 7-3, in international group D play at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
New Zealand (1-0) broke up a 1-1 tie with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the third.
Marcus Feagaiga had the big hit, a two-run shot to put New Zealand up 3-1. Clayton Campbell and Harry Smillie both had RBI doubles in the rally. Campbell had homered in the second inning to get New Zealand on the scoreboard.
Adam Satie had one of Australia's (0-1) two hits and an RBI. Joshua Paull and Tyson Noel had the other RBIs and Dustin Brown had the other hit.
Huriwaka Repia pitched five innings for the win. Feagaiga came on in the sixth and struck out three straight batters with the bases loaded.
Brown took the loss for Australia.
Meridian walks off
Pacific Northwest champ Meridian, Idaho, (1-0) used two infield singles, a stolen base and a wild pitch to edge Maryland champion Charles County, 5-4, in eight innings of American Division (Group A) play on Nationals Field.
Tommy Whiles singled to shortstop and then stole second base. Jackson Reed's infield single to second moved Whiles to third, and he scored on the wild pitch.
Charles County, behind the bat of Marquill Barnes, had a 3-0 lead through four innings. Barnes doubled and homered and drove in three of his teams' four runs.
Meridian scored twice in the fifth and twice more in the sixth to force the extra innings. Charles County (0-2) had added a run in the top of the sixth to hold a 4-2 lead.
Brayden Rundell and substitute Brooks Rasmussen (2-for-2) drove in two runs each for Meridian. Reed had a three-hit game to lead the boys from Idaho.
Carson Bohning struck out eight over five innings to get the win. Shane Kirby was dealt the loss in an inning of relief.
Dominicans beat Canadiens
Leafer Yege de Jesus and Esmeraldo Perez both homered and both drove in three runs apiece to lead Dominican Republic past Canada, 10-2, in international Group C play at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
Dominican pitcher Maikol Escotto Beato had a tough first inning, walking three and hitting another. An error in the inning played into two runs for Canada (0-1). It was all Dominican Republic (1-0) from there.
The winners scored in the next five at bats, while Canada was limited to just two hits, a double by Ty Johnson and a single by Nolan Sparks.
Beato went three innings and was awarded the win, while Yudai Tanaka worked five innings, striking out nine, in the loss.
Hickory drops to 0-2
Harford County host Hickory dropped its second straight game in CRWS National Division (Group B) play Sunday morning, falling 13-3 in five innings to West Raleigh, N.C., the Southeast region champ, on Nationals Field.
Blake McCain, the series home run derby champion, doubled in a pair of runs for the winners, who scored six times in that first at bat to lead, 6-2.
McCain's solo blast in the second inning extended the lead to 7-2 and the West Raleigh (2-0) bunch cruised from there. They scored one more in the third, two in the fourth and three in the fifth to end it. Dominic Fritton also had two hits and three RBIs for West Raleigh.
Hickory did have its own fireworks early, as Charlie Hafer and Parker Smith hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning. Austin Carr, who had one of four Hickory hits, singled and scored in the fifth on a West Raleigh error for Hickory's third run.
Evan Wallace lasted just a third of an inning in taking the loss, while Sam Perez pitched two innings for the win.
Mobile, Ala., is 2-0
Southwest champ Mobile, Ala., won for a second straight day in American division (Group A) play, beating New England's Exeter, N.H., 7-6, on Cal Sr.'s Yard.
Exeter (0-2) jumped on top early, plating four runs in the bottom of the first inning, after Mobile had taken a 1-0 lead in the top half, courtesy of a bases loaded walk.
Mobile, though, scored in every inning except the fifth, pounding out 11 hits, including six for extra bases.
Drew Murray and Andrew Shirah led the barrage with a home run each. Brayden Brooks, who had one of three Mobile doubles, also led the team with three hits in three at bats. Rhett Daigle and Cade Wilson also hit doubles and Ethan Webber added a triple. Jay Seymour also had two hits for Mobile.
Josh Morissette homered in the loss for Exeter, which had the potential tie and winning runs on base in its last at bat, but Mobile pitcher Cade Wilson got the final two outs for the win.