Hector Mejias made the throw of his young life yesterday in the final inning to enable the Dominican Republic to edge South Korea, 4-3, and clinch one of the four berths from the International Division in the Cal Ripken World Series for 12-year-olds in Aberdeen.
The Dominican Republic (2-2) backed South Korea, the World Series runner-up the past three years, against the wall.
To make it to tomorrow's single-elimination playoffs, South Korea (0-3) must defeat Canada (1-2) in today's 6 p.m. game at Ripken Stadium to advance by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Mejias cut down the potential tying run at third base in South Korea's final at-bat in the sixth inning. Down by 4-2, South Korea got a leadoff single from Jong Ho Park, and Young Gi Lee followed with a liner to right that got past Mejias.
Park scored to make it 4-3, and Lee set sail for third base as Mejias retrieved the ball in deep right. Mejias uncorked a high-arcing throw to third baseman Cristobal Diaz Jr. Diaz put the tag on the sliding Lee for a big first out, as Jeong Hun Kim's ensuing single would have tied the game were it not for Mejias' heave.
"I've done it before, but I still don't believe it," said a beaming Mejias. "It was kind of a rainbow, but it got there, and I'm very, very happy."
The Dominican Republic had tied the game with two runs in the third after Korea got a pair in its initial at-bat. An error and RBI single by William Pichardo gave the Dominican Republic a 4-2 lead in the fourth.
Pichardo came on to face pinch hitter Seok Joo Lee after Kim's one-out single in the sixth. Kim went to second on a wild pitch, but Pichardo got Joo Lee to ground to Diaz, who checked Kim back to second before throwing to first.
Ki Sang Lee then ripped a shot at second baseman Francisco Contreras, who charged the ball and trapped the in-between hop as he slipped to his knees. He got up and had plenty of time to throw to first for the final out.
"Pichardo has not given up a run in six innings of relief in the series," coach Cristobal Diaz Sr. said of his left-hander, who preserved Jorge Zorilla's second win.
Around the horn
Former major leaguer Brian McRae arrived to conduct interviews for mlb.com and will throw out the first pitch before today's 1 p.m. game between Glen Allen, Va. (3-0) and Egg Harbor, N.J. (1-1). ... Host Aberdeen got its first hits and run in Tuesday's late 11-1 loss to South County, Mo. (1-2) after two shutouts. Conner Jones and Scott Burdick had singles, and Kevin Remines scored on an error in the fourth. ... Hilo, Hawaii (3-0) clinched a berth from the American League division with a 15-0 rout of Keene, N.H. (1-2). Jaycen-Cann Ferreira went 4-for-4 with two doubles, two triples and three RBIs.
Cal Ripken World Series
Team W L
Hilo, Hawaii 3 0
Upper Montgomery, Md. 2 1
Sylvan Hills, Ark. 1 2
West Linn, Ore. 1 2
Keene, N.H. 1 3
Glen Allen, Va. 3 0
Lexington, Ky. 2 1
Egg Harbor, N.J. 2 1
Scott County, Mo. 1 2
Aberdeen 0 4
Mexico 4 0
Australia 2 2
Dominican Republic 2 2
Canada 1 2
South Korea 0 3
Hilo, Hawaii 15, Keene, N.H. 0
Dominican Republic 4, South Korea 3
Mexico 14, Australia 0
Upper Montgomery 2, Sylvan Hills, Ark. 0
Egg Harbor, N.J. 21, Aberdeen 0
West Linn, Ore. vs. Sylvan Hills, Ark., 11 a.m.
Egg Harbor, N.J. vs. Glen Allen, Va., 1 p.m.
Scott County, Mo. vs. Lexington, Ky., 3 p.m.
Canada vs. South Korea, 6 p.m.
Upper Montgomery vs. Hilo, Hawaii, 8 p.m.