Connecticut, Curacao, New Jersey, Mexico avoid elimination at LLWS
Kevin Oricoli finally has bragging rights over his big brother.
Not many 12-year-old boys can say they hit a two-run single at the Little League World Series.
Oricoli's two-out clutch hit keyed a three-run third inning, and Matt Kubel silenced Nebraska's bats to help Fairfield, Conn., avoid elimination Saturday at the Little League World Series with a 12-0 victory.
Oricoli is savoring the moment - and not just because his team is one step closer to a Little League title.
His 14-year-old brother, Jack, played on the Fairfield American All-Star team last year that lost in the regional semifinals. Egged on by his manager, Bill Meury, Oricoli didn't waste an opportunity to talk smack following Saturday's win after a reporter asked who was getting the last laugh in the Oricoli family.
"Right now, right now, everyone except my brother. As you know, I made it farther than him," Oricoli said, smiling, as Meury laughed. "Now, he's jealous of me and now it's kind of awkward around him now because he's jealous."
The kids from Curacao were feeling pretty good, too, after staying in contention with a 14-2 victory over Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The Kearney, Neb., team and Germany will play Monday in a consolation game after both teams were eliminated.
Mexico also relied on the lumber in eliminating from contention the adopted hometown favorites from Uganda, 12-0. Three Mexico pitchers tossed the first combined perfect game in World Series history in a contest that ended after four innings due to Little League's 10-run rule.
New Jersey and Oregon were scheduled to face off in the nightcap, with the loser facing Uganda in another consolation game Tuesday.
Connecticut gets a well-earned day off before returning to the diamond Monday. Kubel, a 13-year-old lefty whose favorite player is Yankees ace lefthander C.C. Sabathia, frustrated his foes with well-placed fastballs and about a half-dozen harmless bouncers to third.
Kubel, who struck out six over 4 2-3 innings, was a little anxious coming into the elimination game.
"Obviously, you get a little nervous looking at 10,000 people in the stands, but I just tried to focus and play my game," he said with an ice pack strapped to his left elbow.
Nebraska's strategy to swing early in the count to avoid falling behind to Kubel and his big curve didn't work.
After Connecticut's own slow start, the offense exploded for three runs in the third and six in the fourth. Both times, the bottom of Connecticut's order got the rallies going.
Ninth-place hitter Patrick Steed reached base on a walk in the third before coming home on Oricoli's single. Steed also doubled in a run in the fourth. Will Lucas added a homer and five RBIs.
Nebraska manager Brad Wegner hoped to get his team refocused to leave South Williamsport with a win in Monday's consolation game.
"They've had a great time, but they're hugely disappointed," Wegner said. "It's been an awesome experience."
One that Jack Oricoli was able to share with his little brother after cheering him on from the stands. He took Kevin's good-natured ribbing in stride.
"He was with me last year during regionals and I'm here with him in Williamsport," Jack said as the boys' father, Steve, smiled nearby. "And yeah, he's gotten farther than me and he's teasing me about it."
Christopher Koeiman had the big blow in an eight-run first inning for the winners from Willemstad, Curacao with a three-run homer to center. Rallison Bentura added a two-run single, and Curacao also took advantage of four errors in the inning by the Europe region champions, comprised of children whose parents serve or work at the U.S. military installation in Germany.
Justin Wilson and Kyle Glenn each had RBI singles for Germany in the third.
The Ramstein team already has a date to attend a Yankees game in New York after the tournament, but manager Eric Vincent wants his players focusing on one last game together Monday, in front of family and friends who made the trip.
"They burnt up a lot of leave and vacations," Vincent said. "Some winter vacations are going to be lost, but it's all worth it to make it here."
The first team from Africa to advance to the World Series in the 66-year history of the tournament received a baseball lesson from Mexico's mini-mashers from Nuevo Laredo.
Joel Turrubiates homered and drove in three runs for Mexico, which avoided elimination. The sluggers have hit eight homers in two games at the World Series.
Saturday night's power surge was more than enough support for Mexico after Felix Diaz, Sebastian Cuellar and Turrubiates tossed the combined perfect game. It also was the first perfect game of any kind in the tournament since Mexico's Jesus Sauceda threw one in 2008.
Baseball is an emerging sport in Uganda, where soccer is more popular. The Little League program in Uganda began only several years ago, and organizers hope the World Series trip gets more children there interested in baseball and softball.
"This is a message to all of Africa, We can't be worried about results," Uganda manager Henry Odong said. "We have to get the kids to play the game.
A 13-year-old shortstop, Emil Matti did his best impersonation of Yankees leadoff hitter Derek Jeter for the New Jersey team from the New York suburb of Parsippany.
And New Jersey's vocal fans chanted the names of each of their favorite sons as they strode to the plate as if they were Yankee Stadium "Bleacher Creatures."
Matti, hit both his shots to center, including a blast to lead off the game that caromed off the top of the brick wall beyond the fence 225 feet away.
Trailing 5-0 in the second, the Gresham, Ore., squad rallied to within 5-4 on Tyler Linch's two-run single in the third.
But Linch was later tagged out at home by catcher Anthony Scannelli after trying to score the potential tying run on a grounder to second.
Oregon will play Uganda in a consolation game Tuesday after being eliminated from title contention.
Note: ESPN college basketball analyst and basketball Hall of Famer Dick Vitale was inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence before Saturday night's game between New Jersey and Oregon.