Texas also advances to semis in rout

Updated: August 24, 2004, 11:01 PM ET
Associated Press

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Sidearm curveballs, regular fastballs and even some knuckleballs. No matter the direction or the spin, Jordan Brower was nearly unhittable.

Brower struck out eight and knocked in the winning run to lead Thousand Oaks, Calif., into the United States semifinals with a 3-1 win over Lincoln, R.I., at the Little League World Series on Tuesday.

"We're the best team in our bracket," said first baseman Danny Leon. "I think we're the team to beat."

In other games Tuesday: Curacao beat Saipan 3-0; Canada beat Poland 5-1; Richmond, Texas, beat Preston, Md. 13-1; Panama beat Taiwan 6-2; and Owensboro, Ky., defeated Redmond, Wash., 3-2.

Panama, Taiwan, Mexico and Curacao have all clinched spots in the semifinals. Richmond, Texas, plays Morganton, N.C., in one United States semifinal on Wednesday and Thousand Oaks, Calif., plays Preston, Md., on Thursday.

Brower settled down after a shaky first inning, retiring 10 straight and looking dominant against a Rhode Island team playing about 12 hours after a 5-4 loss to Morganton, N.C.

"I just came out and threw strikes," said Brower, who effectively mixed his wide array of pitches.

Did he ever. Forty-five of his 59 pitches were strikes. Brower walked none and Rhode Island batters in the late innings were taking weak cuts.

Cody Thomson struck out one in the sixth and earned his first save.

Manager Tom Ginther said Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson, a Thousand Oaks native, called and offered the team VIP treatment for Tuesday's night game against Arizona.

But with an already loaded schedule and a four-hour bus ride to Pittsburgh, Ginther declined.

California snapped a 1-all tie in the third, capitalizing on some sloppy play. After Rhode Island starter Chris Costantino retired the first two batters, he allowed a single to Sean McIntyre. McIntyre advanced to second when center fielder Damon Divozzi misplayed the ball.

Pinch-runner Adam Justiniano scooted to third on a wild pitch and scored on Brower's opposite-field single to left.

With two outs in the fifth, Leon singled, but ended up on third after a two-base error by right fielder Steve Ricci. Leon scored on a passed ball, making it 3-1.

Costantino allowed three runs -- only one earned -- and struck out nine in five innings.

Rhode Island took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Costantino's RBI single.

California's Tyler Karp led off the second inning with a walk and then made it to third on a couple of wild pitches. Costantino struck out the next two hitters, but James Brady's RBI single tied the score.

"We ran out of gas," Rhode Island coach Steve Rhault said. "They're the team to beat. I hope they go a long way up here because they deserve to."

Richmond, Texas 12, Preston, Maryland, 1
Matt Daniels had a homer and four RBIs, and tossed a two-hitter to lead Richmond, Texas, to a 13-1 win over Preston, Md., on Tuesday.

Texas (3-0) joined North Carolina and California in the United States semifinals. Maryland is 1-2 and needs help to advance.

Daniels went 3-for-4, adding a double and a run scored. He also struck out 12 and walked one.

Texas jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first. With two on and two out, Tyler Ford hit a low liner to right and J.T. Nagel tried to make a shoestring catch. Instead, the ball skipped by him and Ford had a two-run triple.

Ford scored on Daniels' RBI single to left.

Randal Grichuk, who also played in last year's Little League World Series, hit an RBI single and Daniels added his two-run homer to give Texas a 6-1 lead in the third.

Texas scored seven runs in the sixth and finished the game with 12 hits. Grichuk was 3-for-4.

Maryland's only run came on Davonta DeShields solo homer in the first.

Unlike Daniels, DeShields' success didn't carry over to the mound. He gave up 10 earned runs, eight hits and hit four batters in 5 1-3 innings.

Reliever Thomas Howe didn't record an out, giving up three runs. Ben LaNeve got the last two outs.

Curacao, Netherlands Antilles 3, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands 0
Carlos Pineda hit a solo home run in the sixth and contributed two singles to lead Curacao. Curacao finished pool play at 3-0 to secure the top seed for Wednesday's International semifinal round. Saipan went 0-3.

Canada 5, Poland 1
Nick Gazo struck out eight in four innings of relief and Alex Baldock hit a solo home run to lead Ottawa. The Canadian team finished pool play with a 1-2 record. Poland was 0-3.

Panama 6, Taiwan 2

Sergio Rivera struck out seven batters and allowed just three hits and also homered to lead Panama City, Panama. Panama (3-0) finished first in Pool C and will play the second place finisher in Pool D, Mexico (2-1), in the semifinal round Thursday.

Kentucky 3, Washington 2

Cole Sturgeon struck out 15 batters and homered to lead Owensboro, Ky., to a 3-2 win over Redmond, Wash., at the Little League World Series on Tuesday. Sturgeon, though, couldn't do enough to get Kentucky to the United States semifinals. Kentucky was eliminated and Maryland advanced thanks to Little League's scoring differential rules.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press