ABERDEEN, MD. - — With pool play wrapped up Wednesday and a day off Thursday for all teams, the schedule for Championship Weekend at the 2011 Cal Ripken World Series is set.
Eight teams, four foreign and four from the United States, will begin their respective drives Friday toward the ultimate goal, a World Series Championship, while the eight others in the tournament that were eliminated have either left town or are making plans to head back home.
"It has been another terrific year at the Cal Ripken World Series," tournament host Cal Ripke Jr. said Friday. "The kids seemed to have had a wonderful time and the community continues to embrace and support the event. I am very appreciative of the people in my hometown of Aberdeen and throughout Harford County. Their enthusiasm about the World Series makes it that much more special for the kids and their families."
International and United States semifinals will be the first order of business Friday, which will cut the field down to four for Championship Saturday.
All games played this weekend will be on the turf of Cal Sr.'s Yard, the centerpiece of the Ripken Youth Baseball Complex.
In Friday's first semifinal contest, second seed Mexico, the 2010 World Series champion and the only team to win the International Championship in the series' previous eight years in Aberdeen, will face third seed Dominican Republic at noon.
The two teams had a good match-up in pool play Monday night in Cal Sr.'s Yard. The Dominican's Leudy Santana struck out 15 batters, but Mexico scratched out four runs to win 4-0, behind a two-hit pitching performance by Gerardo Duarte.
The other International semifinal will pit top seed Japan against fourth seed Republic of Korea. Japan, which rolled through pool play unbeaten for a second straight year this week, was a upset loser in the semifinals last year.
Republic of Korea played its way into the semifinals Wednesday, shutting out Australia 7-0 in a winner in, loser out contest. Japan and Korea will meet at 5 p.m.
The U.S. semifinals will feature teams from Oahu, Hawaii and Charles County, Md., one and two seeds respectively, from the American Pool and Southeastern Lexington, Kentucky and Clifton Park, New York, one and two seeds respectively, from the National Pool.
Kentucky and New York both played their way in Wednesday, as each won pool games that were of the win or go home variety.
Charles County will meet Kentucky at 2:30 p.m. in the first U.S. semifinal, while Hawaii will face New York in the nightcap at 8 p.m.
Following the final out of the 8 p.m. game, fans can view a movie from the confines of Ripken Stadium with an approximate start of 10 p.m.
Semifinal winners will play for their respective championship contests on Saturday, International at 11 a.m. and the U.S. at 2 p.m.
Saturday evening, teenagers can enjoy a Teen Community Dance Party on the Ripken complex's Eutaw Street between 6 and 9 p.m.
The winners of Saturday's division championship games will meet at 2 p.m Sunday for the 2011 Cal Ripken World Series Championship.