SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Looking ahead to the U.S.
championship game almost cost Conejo Valley in the semifinals of
the Little League World Series.
Sean McIntyre drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning and
finished with two RBI, leading Thousand Oaks, Calif., to a 3-1
victory over South Caroline of Preston, Md., Thursday night to
advance to the U.S. championship.
But it was a lot closer than most expected, including California's players.
"I think everyone expected way too much out of this game,"
said John Lister, whose sixth-inning homer added an insurance run
for California (4-0). "We had predictions, over 10 runs and stuff
like that. We were just too cocky, I think, coming into this game.
It was a wake-up call for us."
As it turned out, California needed a little luck to get that
go-ahead run against Maryland (1-3).
With two outs in the fifth, Maryland third baseman Ryan Hood
dropped a fly ball in the infield, allowing Danny Leon to reach
second base. McIntyre's line drive to center field brought Leon
home to make it 2-1.
Lister's solo homer in the sixth padded the lead for California,
which next faces Richmond, Texas, in Saturday's U.S. championship.
The world championship is on Sunday.
"We held them to three runs, but they smoked the ball,"
Maryland manager Curtis Payne said.
Earlier Thursday, Guadalupe, Mexico, (3-1) advanced to the
international championship with a 6-2, 10-inning, victory over
Panama City, Panama, (3-1) in the longest game in Little League
World Series history.
California went up 1-0 in the third when McIntyre hit a line
drive to right field to score Timmy Ginther.
"I really felt confident at the plate today," McIntyre said.
"I just saw the ball well."
Maryland tied the score in the fourth on Thomas Howe's infield
single. With two outs and Ben LaNeve on third base, McIntyre
fielded Howe's hit, but lost the foot race to first base, allowing
LaNeve to score.
"We had blown coverage there," California manager Tommy
Ginther said. "Things like that can get you down. It was a mental
mistake on our part, on the defense, but we battled back."
"I think they wanted it more than us," Lister said. "They
just came out fighting."
McIntyre (2-0) also struck out five, and Cody Thompson struck
out two in the sixth to earn the save. Robbie Payne (0-2) took the
Mexico 6, Panama 2, 10 innings
Alan Camarillo's first homer of the series -- a three-run shot in
the 10th inning -- came at a perfect time, propelling Mexico into
the international championship game.
"I made great contact with it and there it went," said
Camarillo, who hit only the fourth homer of the series for Mexico.
Mexico will play Willem Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands
Antilles, in the international championship on Saturday.
The game lasted 3 hours, 50 minutes, breaking the record of 3:11
in a game between New Jersey and Michigan in 1998. That game -- and
one between Kentucky and Texas in 2002 -- set the record for innings
played with 11.
In the 10th, Daniel Loranzo reached on an error and Oscar Garza
singled to left. Camarillo followed with a homer to center off
reliever Brian Rodriguez (0-1), giving Mexico a 5-2 lead.
Victor Gonzalez added an RBI single to cap the scoring.
Panama (3-1) had one last rally in the bottom of the 10th,
putting runners on first and second before Garza came back to
strike out the next three batters.
Garza (2-0) was mobbed his teammates as members of the U.S.
semifinal game immediately hurried onto the field to warm up and
start the game by the Little League cutoff time of 8:30 p.m.
"I had a high level of confidence in Oscar," Leal said.
Garza and starter Walter Montemayor combined for 25 strikeouts.