Excitement galore as Japan tops Mexico for top seed at Cal Ripken World Series

Japan relief pitcher Taisei Takeoka sends a pitch to the waiting Mexico batter during Wednesday night's international match up at Cal Sr.'s Yard. Takeoka had six strikeouts in the game and also hit the two- run home run that propelled Japan to the 2-1 win and the top seed in the tournament's international division semifinals.
Japan relief pitcher Taisei Takeoka sends a pitch to the waiting Mexico batter during Wednesday night's international match up at Cal Sr.'s Yard. Takeoka had six strikeouts in the game and also hit the two- run home run that propelled Japan to the 2-1 win and the top seed in the tournament's international division semifinals. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Patuxent Homestead)

ABERDEEN, MD. – — In final day of pool play at the 2011 Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series featured a number of key match-ups to determine which teams moved to the U.S. and international semifinal rounds capped off by an exciting game between two undefeated international teams.

Among those moving on is the tournament's Maryland representative from Charles County which didn't play Wednesday, but received a boost from some of those teams that did.


Japan tops Mexico

Japan (5-0) claimed the top seed in Friday's International semifinals after an exciting 2-1 win over Mexico in the final pool game of the 2011 World Series in Cal Sr.'s Yard.


Japan's Taisei Takeoka came into the game as a relief pitcher and left as a hero. Takeoka threw three and two-third innings of scoreless baseball to earn the win and had the hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.

With Japan trailing 1-0, Daisuke Sowa reached on a error by Mexico starting pitcher Martin Madrid, who had retired the first 10 batters he faced, striking out four.

Madrid then made his only mistake, leaving a pitch up in the strike zone that Takeoka, a left-hand hitter, hit the opposite way and out of Cal Sr's Yard for what turned out to be a game-winning home run.

Seemingly rattled, Madrid walked the next batter and was relieved by Luis Cruz. Cruz went on to retire all five batters he faced.

Mexico (4-1) took the lead in the top of the first with the rarest of long balls, as Madrid sent a high drive down the left field line that careened off the foul pole for a solo home run. There was a brief discussion among the umpires, but the play was correctly ruled a home run.

Mexico's best scoring chance the remainder of the game came in the fourth. Cruz and backup catcher Miguel Lopez hit consecutive singles to begin the inning. Both runners moved up a base on a passed ball, but Takeoka settled down and struck out the next two batters before getting the third out on a grounder to third.

Takeoka gave up a one-out single in the sixth, but again worked out of it with a strikeout and a grounder to second.

Madrid and Cruz each had two hits in the loss, the only players on either team with multiple hits.

Hawaii ousts Texas

Southwest champ Tri-Counties, Texas, had a chance to win the American Pool, but it had to defeat unbeaten Pacific Southwest champion Oahu, Hawaii, in the final American Pool game of the series earlier Wednesday.

Texas didn't win, however, as Hawaii overcame a 2-0 first inning deficit to win 4-2 at Wrigley Field. The win gave Hawaii a 4-0 mark and the American Pool top seed, while Texas slipped to 2-2 and out of Friday's U.S. semifinals.

The Texas loss was Charles County's gain, as the Maryland state champ grabbed the second seed from the American Division pool in Friday's semifinals. Hawaii will be the first seed.

Texas took a 2-0 lead over Hawaii in the bottom of the first.

Leadoff man Brody Gall singled to center and was sacrificed to second by Andrew Dvorak. Caleb Valchar then singled Gal to third and Ty Condel drew a walk to load the bases. Tanner Sembera also drew a walk to bring Gall in for a 1-0 lead.

Zach Smith then hit into a fielder's choice that plated Valchar for the 2-0 lead.

It didn't take Hawaii long to draw even. Nick Benner led off the top of the second inning with a single, and Micah McNicoll followed with a long blast over the left-center field fence to tie the game at 2-2.

Hawaii then went ahead with a single run in the third. Dustin Imanaka and Blaine DeMello opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Both stole a base to put runners at second and third as Kaimana Paaluhi struck out.

Imanaka then scored on Ryne Yamashiro's groundout to short, but DeMello was cut down at the plate on the same play, trying to score from second.

Hawaii added a big insurance run in the sixth when Yamashiro singled and later scored on a RBI single by Zach Kon. Kon also worked two and two-third innings on the mound, before giving way to Paaluhi who got the final out.

Texas used a Smith one-out single and two, two-out walks to load the bases in its final at bat, but a grounder to second ended the threat.

Michael Viola picked up the win with one inning of perfect relief, while Easton Migl suffered the loss in a gritty performance. Migl gave up eight hits, struck out five and did not walk a batter.

Kentucky moves into semis

In one of the day's early pivotal National Division pool play games, the Ohio Valley squad from Lexington, Ky., held off a late surge from the Southeast champ Raleigh, N.C., to come out with a 3-1 victory at Cal Sr.'s Yard on Wednesday.

The contest was important because heading into Wednesday, four of the five National Division squads were tied with 2-1 records, and a victory for either side meant moving on to Friday's elimination round, while the loser would be finished in the tournament.

The win gave Kentucky a 3-1 record in pool play and a berth in the next round. North Carolina finished with a 2-2 record.

Holding a narrow 2-1 advantage in the bottom of the fifth frame, the Lexington boys padded their lead by a run with some inventive base running.

With two outs and no one on base, Kainen Bibb kept Lexington alive by reaching base on an infield error. Then, with starting pitcher Austin Dick at the plate, Bibb swiped second base, and later stole third when Dick earned a walk.

Now at first base, Dick broke for second on the first pitch. Drawing a throw from the Raleigh catcher, Dick got himself involved in a rundown, giving Bibb enough time to scamper home for his team's third tally.

Raleigh refused to go down easily in the top of the sixth, and at one point had the tying runs in scoring position.

The frame started when Robert Frongello swatted one of Dick's offerings to the wall in left for a double. Alex Molden came up next and hit a scorcher up the third base line, but unfortunately for Raleigh the ball was hit directly at the chest of Lexington's third baseman Zach Bryant, who made the play.

Raleigh's Andrew Buchholz next earned a walk, and both he and Frongello moved over a base on a wild pitch. Dick, however, was able to work out of the jam, getting an infield fly out and a game-ending groundout to short.

Raleigh scored its one and only run in the opening frame, when Kyle Gensler was driven home from third when Buchholz earned a bases-loaded walk.

Lexington tied the game up in the opening inning, when Dick cranked a double, and later scored on a wild pitch. In the third inning Dick repeated his performance, and plated the winning run in the process, ripping a two-bagger and later coming around to score.

In a complete-game effort, Dick struck out five, walked three and scattered five hits.

Gensler was the lone Raleigh batter with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with a double.


New York advances


In the final game of National Division pool play on Wednesday, the Mid-Atlantic team from Clifton Park, N.Y. (3-1) stamped its ticket to Friday's elimination round with a 11-1 drubbing of the Midwest representatives from Waite Park, Minn (2-2).

The winners wasted little time putting the home-team Waite Park boys behind them, scoring four times in the opening inning.

The high point was Payton Johnson's three-run homer to the deepest part of the Cal Sr.'s Yard, which is configured likeOriole Park atCamden Yards.

Earlier in the inning, Michael Spulnick scored the first game's first run on a wild pitch, after getting on base via a one-out single.

Waite Park loaded the bags and had the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the first, but Clifton Park hurler Mike Jeffers exited the jam with an inning-ending strikeout.

Clifton Park went up 6-0 in the top of the second with a pair of runs on one hit.

In the top of the fourth, the winning side got a two RBI single off that bat of Nikolas Malachowski that made the score 8-0. Ian Anderson padded the Clifton Park lead with a run scoring base hit, and Johnson scored his team's 10th run, making it home from third on an error.

Waite Park, needing to score once to avoid having the game end early under the 10-run mercy rule, got its lone run of the game when Connor Schoborg hit a double that plated teammate Mike Petron from second.

Clifton Park added one more run in the top of the sixth.

Jeffers made the start for Clifton Park and picked up the win, going four innings in which he struck out seven, walked three and held his opponents to just three hits.

Korea tops Australia

In the penultimate International Division pool play game at the Ripken World Series, the Korean team earned a spot in Friday's elimination round, defeating Australia, 7-0, at Cal Sr.'s Yard Wednesday evening.

On Friday at 5 p.m., the Koreans will play the International Division's top finisher, which will be the winner of Wednesday's 8 p.m. contest between the undefeated Japanese and Mexican teams.

The game's winning run was scored in the first inning, as Korea's Do Kuang Nam slammed an RBI single. Korea (2-3) added one more run in the third frame.

Holding on to a slim 2-0 advantage with just one turn at bat remaining, the Koreans made the most of their final turn at the plate, scoring five times before the Australians could escape the inning.

Three of Korea's hurlers combined to toss a five-hit shutout.

Woo Jin An made the start and went four frames, striking out seven, walking none and scattering three hits. Keon Hee Choi came on in the fifth with two men on base and navigated Korea out of the inning without allowing a run.

Over two frames, Choi struck out four, held Australia to one hit and did not allow a walk. Won Min Park closed out the game for Korea, allowing one hit and striking out one hitter before retiring the side.

An was also potent at the plate, ripping a two RBI double in the sixth, and wrapping up the game 1-for-3 with one run scored and one walk.

Nam helped the winning cause with a one hit, one run, one RBI and one walk, while Choi scored a team-high two runs and earned a pair of walks. Hwan Kyung Lee went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and one run, while Jun Hui Lee had one run and one RBI. Ji Ho Lee scored once, and Hye Seong Oh picked up one RBI in the victory.

Joshua Diggins had two of Australia's five hits, going 2-for-3 with a double, while Isaac Whatson was 1-for-3 with a two-bagger.

Shane Keheller and Courtney Jones each hit a single for Australia, which finished the tournament with a 1-4 record.

Washington gets a win

Pacific Northwest champ Kennewick, Wash., picked up a 7-4 win over New England champ Hudson, N.H., atFenway Park. The result left both clubs with 1-3 records in American Division pool play.

Washington jumped ahead with three runs in the first, but New Hampshire scratched out four runs in the second to take a 4-3 lead.

For New Hampshire, however, there were no more runs, and Washington took advantage, scoring one in the third, one in the fifth and two in the sixth.

Dillon Plew led the winners with three hits and an RBI, while Bryce Grigg and Cavet Christ each had two hits. All three players had a double. Brycen Kelly had a two-run single, while Caleb Cope and Hunter Spiva added a hit and RBI each.

Tyler Christiansen and Nick Boudreau had New Hampshire's two hits and two RBIs.

Plew pitched the complete game two-hitter, striking out 11 and walking two. New Hampshire starter Matt McKinley took the loss, and Mike Simard pitched in relief.

Dominican Republic beats Canada

Dominican Republic assured itself of the number three seed in Friday's International semifinals by beating Canada 14-2 in four innings Wednesday atFenway Park.

The Dominicans ended pool play with a 3-2 mark. Canada finished winless at 0-5.

The winners scored all they needed in the first inning, plating nine runs after sending 14 men to the plate.

Huascar Inoa had the inning's big blow, sending a three-run home run well over the center field wall.

Winning pitcher Carlos Alcantara added a two-run single, while Henry Pujols and Leudy Santana each had RBI doubles. Cody Lee was the lone Dominican to collect two hits in the inning.

Dominican Republic added a run in the second when Santana doubled and scored on a David Diaz single. Santana then capped the game's final scoring with a three-run shot over the right field fence.

Canada avoided the shutout with two runs in the third. Brayden Unruh started the third by getting hit by a pitch. Hudson MacMillan followed with a double right down the third base line and two outs later, Tristan Rachman shot a two RBI double inside the bag at first, scoring Unruh and MacMillan.

Alcantara picked up the win, pitching three innings. He allowed just two hits and one hit batter and struck out one.

Nick Kutilin took loss, failing to get out of the first inning after allowing the first eight Dominican batters to reach base on six hits and two walks. MacMillan finished out the game, allowing seven hits, while striking out two.

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