In the Cal Ripken 12-and-under World Series' five years in Aberdeen, the one constant has been Mexico playing in the International championship game.
Mexico, which has won the previous four International titles here, advanced again yesterday, surviving a scare from Japan (2-3) for a hard-earned 3-1 victory at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
Mexico (5-0) will face the Dominican Republic (4-1) in the International final today at 3 p.m.
Southeast Lexington, Ky. (4-1) will play Tampa, Fla. (4-1) in the U.S. title game today at 5:30 p.m.
The International and U.S. winners will meet tomorrow at 5 p.m. for the championship.
Mexico 3, Japan 1 --Hoping to avenge a 12-1 loss in pool play, Japan came out bunting in the first inning to manufacture a run for pitcher Yuno Nakamura.
Mexico took a 2-1 lead in the third inning on a triple to right-center by Gerardo Briones and a double by winning pitcher Miguel Rodriguez.
Rodriguez pitched into the fifth inning before giving way to Jose Rivera, who couldn't make a play on a bunt by Ryo Okamoto that loaded the bases with one out. Rivera then started as if to wind up and instead wheeled around to pick the runner off second to end the inning.
"We talked about getting the runner on second; thought we had a chance," Rivera said through coach and interpreter Anwar Perez. "We were very confident, but they played very well and not like the first time we played."
Rivera is expected to start today against the Dominicans, whom he limited to two hits with 13 strikeouts in a 6-0 tournament-opening win.
Dominican Republic 4, Australia 3 --Australia (2-3) was on the verge of making its first International final, but throwing errors in the bottom of the sixth inning allowed the Dominicans (4-1) to score three runs with two outs and earn their first berth in the final.
Australian left-hander Daniel McGrath took a five-hitter and a 3-1 lead into the sixth and final inning, but after getting the first two batters to ground out, he gave up back-to-back doubles to Richi Sanchez and Eduardo Castro to make it 3-2.
Ramon Laureano, who homered in the second inning, then hit a grounder that resulted in a throwing error by the shortstop to score Castro's pinch runner, Renner Toledo, to tie the game at 3.
Mitchell Simon relieved McGrath and gave up a swinging bunt to Crisford Adames. Australia's catcher picked up the ball but threw it into right field.
Lauereano, who took Player of the Game honors, came around from second base to end it.
Southeast Lexington, Ky. 10, Olympia, Wash. 1 --Southeast Lexington rolled into its first U.S. final in its five years playing in Aberdeen. Nick Richmond pitched a three-hitter with five strikeouts and two walks.
"We've been here every year, but have never gotten ... to the [U.S.] final," said Lexington manager Rick Redmon, whose son, Brandt, led the offense, with two doubles and four RBIs. "Our kids played about as good as you can hope for today. It was definitely our best game here."
Tampa, Fla. 6, Bryant, Ark. 1 --Left-hander Ty Cherry allowed three hits in five innings and Bubba Olivera pitched the sixth and final inning, giving up no hits and an unearned run, as Tampa advanced.