LLWS: California, Connecticut, Curacao, Mexico advance
Will Lucas threw a no-hitter to lead Fairfield, Conn., past New Castle, Ind., 4-0 Monday night at the Little League World Series.
The 12-year-old right-hander struck out 13 and also had a two-run single in the fifth. When it was over, he pumped his fist high in the air before falling to the ground as his teammates piled on top of him near the mound.
"Once I saw him in the bullpen, I knew it was going to be a good night," catcher Biagio Paoletta said.
Matt Kubel homered for Connecticut, which will play California in a rematch on Tuesday night. Connecticut lost the first matchup 6-4 last week.
Lucas said he was aware of his no-hit bid during the game, in part because Kubel mentioned it to him in the dugout during the game.
"You know you're not supposed to do that, right," manager Bill Meury said as he looked over at Kubel. The 13-year-old first baseman grinned as he nodded sheepishly.
One out away from completing the no-hitter, Lucas was surrounded by his infielders for an impromptu conference on the mound.
Lucas changed speeds effectively all night, and third baseman Kevin Oricoli dared him to mix it up even more by throwing a knuckleball.
Not a chance, Lucas said.
"If it was hit, he'd probably run out ... and tackle me to the ground," said Lucas, an ice pack strapped to his potent right shoulder.
Indiana was eliminated with the loss.
"I think we did some really good things here," manager Tim Porter said. "At the end of the day life is a lot bigger than baseball. ... We would have liked to win this thing, but we didn't."
Danny Marzo was thinking about his manager's advice as he walked to the plate in the eighth inning: Concentrate on making a good swing, not hitting a home run.
He listened and went deep anyway - for one memorable game-ending shot.
The 12-year-old Marzo drove a breaking ball to the grassy hill beyond the right-field wall to help Petaluma, Calif., advance in the Little League World Series with a 5-4 victory over Parsippany, N.J., on Monday.
Manager Eric Smith "told me you can't go up there thinking walk-off home run," Marzo said. "You have to be thinking base hit. A walk-off comes off a good base-hit swing."
California's next game is a rematch against Fairfield, Conn.
Marzo's giddy teammates started lining up around the plate to pat him on his helmet before he even reached second. Their frantic fans started chanting "Petaluma!"
The skipper's son, 13-year-old shortstop Hance Smith, knew the ball was headed out when he saw Marzo's swing.
"I didn't really (see the ball) leave the park," Hance Smith said with a smile. "I just came out to greet him."
Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, the winners from Willemstad had runners on second and third when Christopher Koeiman hit a fly ball to left with one out. Carter Kada-Wong fell backward to make the catch, but both runners had enough time to score.
Jansen then homered to give Curacao the lead for good against Vancouver, British Columbia.
Reliever Rallison Bentura pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings to get the win.
"I had the attitude that nobody could hit me," the 12-year-old right-hander said through an interpreter.
Cole Dalla-Zanna was the hard-luck loser for Canada, striking out nine.
Canada was eliminated but manager Vito Bordignon wants his players to be proud of their showing this year, which included a 13-9 win over formidable Mexico.
Next up for Canada: a little sightseeing in Pennsylvania.
"I just told them they had a great tournament and to keep their heads up," Bordignon said. "They represented Canada well."
Kearney earned Nebraska's first-ever win at the Little League World Series - and set a tournament record, too, with the 15-run second inning.
Thirteen-year-old Jared Wegner went 3 for 4 with a homer and five RBIs in the game delayed by rain and played under sometimes sloppy conditions.
Both teams had fun in the dugouts during the delay, where Nebraska second baseman Matt Masker, 13, showed off his dance moves to the hip-hop song "Teach Me How to Dougie" by Cali Swag District.
"They also wanted to go out on the tarp and do some sliding," manager Brad Wegner said. "All fun all the time."
Mexico scored three runs in the third to take the lead, including two on a throwing error, and went on to the victory against Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Mexico loaded the bases after tying it at 2 on an error. In the next at-bat, Taiwan's catcher tried to run back a runner who had strayed off first, but the ball slipped from his hand on a fake throw and dribbled into right field. Two runs scored to give Mexico a 4-2 lead.
Chun-Hsiao Chen hit an RBI single in the fourth, but Mexico center fielder Fernando Benavides cut down the potential tying run at the plate.
Taiwan's Cheng-Feng Lee struck out 10 in a complete-game loss.
Felix Diaz struck out five in 4 1-3 innings for the win, and Ramon Ballina retired the side in order in the sixth for the save.
"I was a little nervous to come into the game, but I wanted to throw really well," the 13-year-old Ballina said through an interpreter. "I saw the team was winning and really up, I didn't want to disappoint them."