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|Thursday, August 23
Updated: August 24, 12:17 PM ET
|Almonte hurls one-hitter to advance Bronx|
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Danny Almonte wasn't perfect, but he was as close as you can get.
The 12-year-old left-hander followed his earlier perfect game by striking out 16 in a one-hitter Thursday night and the Rolando Paulino team from the Bronx, N.Y., will play for the U.S. championship in the Little League World Series.
Most of the talk after the Bronx team's 1-0 victory over Oceanside, Calif., however, was about a no-call that led to the game's only run.
Pinch hitting for Reynaldo Guava with two outs in the fifth inning, Santo Sierra singled to left for the New York team. Guava came back in as a pinch runner and advanced to third on a hit over first base by Kenny Espinal.
Television replays showed Guava missed second base, and after conferring with his manager, pitcher Thomas Eukovich appealed at second, but the second-base umpire ruled Guava safe.
Eukovich then intentionally walked Tommy Guzman to load the bases. Guava scored on Torres' hit that barely went 10 feet in front of home plate.
Guava said after the game that he felt he touched the bag, but even Bronx manager Alberto Gonzalez said Guava probably should have been called out.
"From my view, I didn't see it, but I didn't think he touched it," Gonzalez said.
Some of the parents of the Oceanside players in the stands were called on cell phones and told the runner missed the base.
"I did not see the runner miss the bag. I went out to settle down my pitcher and heard all the parents yelling," Oceanside manager Daryl Wasano said. "The call is a judgment call, and the umpire clearly called him safe, so you move on. I took a chance and loaded the bases, and who would have thought what amounted to a swinging bunt would determine the outcome."
After the game, second-base umpire Bill Stains said: "I'd rather not talk to the media. I felt, in my judgment, he got the base."
Still, there was no taking anything away from Almonte, who allowed just a first-inning single and did not go to a three-ball count on any batter. His pitches reached 77 mph.
"He really brings it," Wasano said. "We swung at some high pitches, then he would come back with off-speed inside."
New York (4-0) will have a rematch against Apopka, Fla., (3-1) in Saturday's U.S. championship.
Apopka, which beat Brownsburg, Ind., 6-1 in Wednesday's semifinal, was the victim of Almonte's perfect game, just the third in Little League World Series history.
Netherlands Antilles (3-1) will face Tokyo Kitasuna (3-1) in Saturday's international championship. Japan advanced with a 15-5 semifinal win over Mexico on Wednesday and Netherlands Antilles beat Guam 4-3 Thursday.
The winners meet Sunday for the Little League World Series championship.
Almonte also struck out 16 in the perfect game, including the first 15 batters. He will not be able to face them again because Little League rules prohibit pitchers from throwing consecutive games.
Against Oceanside, a team that came in batting .333, with five batters at .500 or better, the only two outs that weren't strikeouts came in the fourth inning - a popup caught by Almonte and a grounder to third.
Johnny Jimenez spoiled Almonte's bid for a second perfect game in the bottom of the first with a clean single to right.
"I just let it hang," Almonte said of the pitch. "I felt great I did my job for the team."
As impressive as Almonte was on the mound, Oceanside was almost as good in the field. After Guzman walked start the game, Eukovich then started the 1-4-3 double play. Josh Harris then took a hit away from Almonte with a leaping catch at second base to end the inning. In the fourth, left fielder Tyler Varnals made a rolling catch on a ball hit by Guzman.
Almonte had the first hit for the Bronx, a fourth-inning chopper to center with two outs. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, but Luilly Vinas grounded out to second to end the inning. ^Netherlands Antilles 4, Guam 3=
Netherlands Antilles 4, Guam 3
In the top of the fifth, Prinstonyor Paulina of Netherlands Antilles was on first base when Dinyor Antonia laid down a sacrifice bunt. Guam first baseman Henry Salas didn't have his foot on the base when he took the throw and Antonia was called safe. When Paulina rounded second, Salas overthrew third base, allowing Paulina to score and Antonia to advance to second as Netherlands Antilles took a 2-1 lead.
Richendro Martis followed with another sacrifice bunt, and the scene repeated itself, with Salas missing the bag and then throwing the ball away, allowing Antonia to score and make it 3-1. Martis scored on Michelangelo Trinidad's double to put Netherlands Antilles up 4-1.
Guam (3-1) closed within 4-2 in the bottom of the inning when Kristopher Kaneshiro scored on Kurt Diaz's double. Guam made it 4-3 in the sixth when Derwin Aguon scored on a groundout.
Trinidad (2-0) struck out nine and walked one. Freddy Abanes Cepeda Jr. (0-1) took the loss.
The game started about an hour late because of rain. Prinstonyor Paulina and Dinyor Antonia scored on a bizarre series of fifth-inning errors as Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, rallied for a 4-3 victory over Guam Central in an international semifinal at the Little League World Series.