- In one of the all-time classic pitching performances seen at the Cal Ripken World Series, the Dominican Republic's Leudy Santana struck out 14 batters en route to no-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Mexico in Friday's International semifinal match-up at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
As the series moves into its division championship round Saturday, Dominican Republic will face Japan, a 10-1 winner over Korea Friday, for the tournament's international championship. That game will start at 11 a.m. at Cal Sr.'s yard.
The U.S. championship game will follow at 2 p.m. pitting Oahu, Hawaii, against Lexington, Ky., also at Cal Sr.'s Yard. Hawaii defeated Clifton Park, N.Y., 9-1, in another Friday semifinal, while earlier in the day, Lexington topped Maryland's Charles County team, 11-5.
The international and U.S. champions will meet Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Cal Sr.'s Yard for the 2011 Cal Ripken World Series championship.
Dominicana wins pitching masterpiece
Friday's performance was validation for Santana, who struck out 16 hitters in the Dominican team's earlier pool play contest with Mexico Monday, but had to swallow a loss when the reigning champs eked out four runs on three hits in a 4-0 victory.
As in the earlier contest between the two teams, Gerardo Duarte was on the mound for Mexico Friday, and he very nearly matched his Dominican counterpart's performance, allowing just two hits, striking out eight and issuing two walks.
The game's only run was scored in the top half of the third, and it probably would not have occurred were it not for a pair of costly mishaps by Mexico.
Dominican Republic's Alejandro Guerrero led off the frame by hitting a bouncer to the left side of the infield. Mexico's third basemen Luis Maldonado juggled the ball and then sent his throw into the stands, allowing Guerrero to reach second.
After an attempted sacrifice bunt was popped up to Duarte, Santana moved his teammate over to third with a groundout to first base.
With Gilberto Celestino at the plate, Duarte got a swinging third strike that would have ended the inning, but the high fastball went sailing past the Mexico catcher all the way to the backstop, allowing Guerrero to scamper home for what would be the winning run.
Santana's most challenging inning turned out to be the final one, in which Mexico got a runner past first base for the first time all day.
After striking out the first two hitters, Santana walked the third hitter of the inning, Ernesto Granadas, on four straight pitches. After Granadas stole second, Santana ran the count full on Mexico's Martin Madrid, but then ended the game by blowing a fastball past the opposing hitter.
Over six innings, Santana issued just two walks.
Dominican Republic's win ended the tournament for Mexico's defending champions.
Maryland squad eliminated
In Friday's first American semifinal match-up at the Cal Ripken World Series, the Ohio Valley squad from Lexington, Ky., topped the Maryland team from Charles County, 11-5, at Cal Sr.'s Yard.
In its first at-bat, the Charles County squad exploded for four tallies. Brant Butler led off the inning with a walk, then promptly scored on Ryan Oglesby's double to the right field wall.
After advancing to third in a groundout, Oglesby motored home for his team's second run on Davis Larson's base hit up the middle.
Larson moved to second when Brian Hennessey singled, then made the lead 3-0, by scoring from second when Nathaniel Stewart's bouncer to the second baseman was misplayed. On third after the error, Hennessey made it home on Jake Hanks' RBI groundout to third.
In the bottom of the first, Lexington got a leadoff walk from Kainen Bibb, who stole second and third base, then scored on a Kaelen Covington's grounder to short. With two men on, Aiden Elias put the home team just one run behind Charles County, belting a two-RBI double to center.
The bottom of the second saw Lexington go up 5-4 when throw in from Austin Dick's bases-loaded flyout went into the Maryland dugout, allowing two runs to cross the plate.
The game was tied up 5-5 in short order during the top of the fourth frame, as Maryland's Bryce Nicolau knocked a two-out home run over the wall in left-center field.
In the home half of the fourth, Lexington came up with a three-run rally, which was highlighted by C.J. Bush's two-RBI double over the head of the Charles County left fielder.
Lexington wasn't finished, however. The bottom of the fifth began with Elias doubling to center. After he stole second, Elias motored home on Parker McCoy's squeeze bunt, making the score 9-5.
Lexington would go on to score two more runs before Maryland could escape the inning.
Japan rolls into final
Japan continued its dominance in International play of the 2011 Cal Ripken World Series Friday night, beating the Republic of Korea 10-1 in a International semifinal that was a bit closer than the final score might indicate.
Japan jumped on top in the first on Kosuke Nagata's two-run shot to center.
Had it not been for two base runners picked off by Korea starting pitcher Jong Bum Kim, the Japan lead may have been greater. Kim nailed Masaharu Niwa at first base after a leadoff single and then got Taisei Takeoka at third for the final out, picking him off second.
Korea got a run back in the second, but if not for a quality relay, Korea may have scored more.
Do Kuang Nam drew a leadoff walk from Japanese starter Takeoka. Do Hyun Lee followed with a fly ball down the right field line, that Japan's Nagata was unable to catch or keep in front of him. The ball rolled to the wall, but a hustling Nagata retrieved the ball, fired to cutoff man Ryuki Urano, the second baseman.
Urano then threw a perfect relay to catcher Sora Morimoto, who tagged out Nam. Lee strolled into third on the throw home.
Takeoka then struck out Keon Hee Choi, but the third strike was dropped and Choi headed for first. Morimoto's throw hit Choi in the back, allowing Lee to score from third.
Japan challenged the call, believing Choi was inside the base line, but the umpires ruled otherwise.
Japan got that run back in the bottom of the second on a pinch hit RBI single by Takumi Okada, but like the first inning, more potential runs were missed by a base running issue. Hayate Nakatsuji was called out on coaches interference at third base, or the Okada hit could have driven in two.
Moments later the foul weather returned to the Ripken Baseball Academy and both teams and its fans endured a 2 hour and 28 minute rain delay.
When play resumed, Japan took full control. Japan pushed across two runs in the fourth on a single and two Korea fielding miscues, but then made the game purely one-sided with five additional runs in the fifth.
Pinch hitter Seiya Estuda capped off the night, belting a grand slam to deep center field.
Takeoka pitched the first two innings for Japan, striking out four and walking two. Kazuki Sakurai also pitched two hitless innings, striking out four. Nagata struck out two in one inning of relief, while Ryuki Urano pitched two-thirds of an inning and Reo Matsuo pitched the final out, a strikeout.
Korea's Kim took the loss, pitching an inning plus one batter, while Choi finished out the game. Choi allowed six hits, while striking out three.
Hawaii tops News York
Pacific Southwest champ Oahu, Hawaii became the last team into Saturday's championship action after a 9-1 win over Mid-Atlantic champion Clifton Park, New York Friday night in Cal Sr.'s Yard.
Hawaii led 4-1 for half the game and blew it open with a display of power in the fifth inning, sending 11 men to the plate and scoring five runs to highlight the win.
Hawaii didn't waste any time getting to New York starting pitcher Nik Malachowski, putting three runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. Blaine DeMello grounded a stand-up, one-out double down the left field line and scored a batter later on Ryne Yamashiro's two-out single.
Nick Benner followed with a ground ball single into right and both runners came around to score on a Micah McNicoll double that one-hopped the wall in straightaway center field.
Yamashiro added a RBI double in the third, matching the run scored by New York in the top half of the inning. New York's Kevin Huerter did the honors, hitting a solo home run to center field off Yamashiro, the Hawaii starting and winning pitcher who pitched a complete game.
Kaimana Paaluhi and Yamashiro hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning rally. Nick Benner had a single in the inning, as did Trevin Tengan and Dustin Imanaka, Tengan and Imanaka had RBIs.
Yamashiro allowed four hits, walked one and struck out two.
Malachowski took the loss, lasting four and a third innings, giving up 10 hits and seven runs and striking out two. Huerter pitched the final two-thirds of an inning, giving up two hits and two runs.