Tampa, Mexico reach final

The Baltimore Sun

Teams from Tampa, Fla., and Mexico advanced yesterday to the Cal Ripken 12-and-under World Series championship game, which will be held today at 5 p.m. at Cal Sr.'s Yard in Aberdeen.

This is the fifth consecutive series final for Mexico, which won the title in 2003 and 2004.

Christian Arroyo, Tampa's outstanding shortstop, is aware of Mexico's toughness and tradition, but he said, "Bring 'em on. We can take them."

Today's title game will be televised on Versus, with Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother, former Oriole Bill Ripken, as analysts.

U.S. final

Tampa, Fla. 2, Southeast Lexington, Ky. 0 --The hex continued for Southeast Lexington (4-2), which lost the U.S. final for the third time in five years, as Tampa (5-1) avenged a 10-2 loss in pool play.

Tampa starter Ty Cherry, who pitched two innings in Thursday night's 6-1 playoff win over Bryant, Ark., allowed no runs in four innings.

"I throw a fastball, change and curve and have a fantastic defense behind me," Cherry said.

Shane Jeffcoat relieved Cherry and retired the side in order in the fifth inning. Jeffcoat hit a batter and walked one in the sixth before pitching out of the jam. He hasn't given up a run in 10 2/3 innings in the series.

Tampa scored its runs in the first and third innings on a single by Cherry and a double by Arroyo over the center fielder's head.

"I knew the kids had it in them to come back and win," Tampa manager Vince Miniet said. "Cherry has been our workhorse all year and Shane has totally stepped it up and closed some very big games for us."

International final

Mexico 7, Dominican Republic 1 --Mexico was held to six hits, but two of them were two-run homers by Miguel Rodriguez and Gerardo Briones.

It was the third time in five years that the Dominicans have lost to Mexico in the International championship game.

Mexico (6-0) took a 5-0 lead after two innings. Carlos Munoz started things in a three-run first with an RBI single, and Rodriguez followed with his home run.

Briones hit his two-run shot in the second inning to make it 5-0, and Munoz closed out the scoring with a two-run single in the fourth.

Jose Rivera pitched the first four innings and Briones the last two as the duo combined on a five-hitter with 12 strikeouts to shut down the Dominicans (4-2).

Richi Sanchez had two hits for the Domincans, including a home run in the fourth.

"It's great to be in the final again, but it's very difficult to win," Mexico manager Bernardo Tapia said through an interpreter.

Tapia and Australia's Bob Nilsson are the only managers to bring teams to Aberdeen all five years.

"We are hitting and pitching very well right now," Tapia added.

Briones is certainly one of the Mexican players Tapia was talking about.

"It was my best game [yesterday]," said Briones, who was named Player of the Game after going 2-for-2 and hitting his fourth homer of the series and the team's 13th.

"I'm 100 percent sure we can win it [today] because I have lot of faith in my teammates."


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