Bellinger, Arizona ride five homers past Maryland in LLWS opener

Updated: August 18, 2007, 11:03 PM ET
Associated Press

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Clay Bellinger played in the World Series with the New York Yankees, but the utility man was never really known for his bat.

His son, though, can sure pound the ball.

Twelve-year-old Cody Bellinger went 4-for-5, including an impressive opposite-field two-run homer to left, and Chandler, Ariz. pounded out five home runs in a 16-6 win Saturday over Salisbury, Md., at the Little League World Series.

Clay Bellinger even got to stand on the same field as his sweet-swinging son -- he's the first-base coach for Chandler.

"He went to the World Series, so I thought it would be really cool if I could go to the Little League World Series," said Cody, his voice raspy from all the yelling he's been doing on the field.

The early games Saturday in South Williamsport were all high-scoring affairs: Mexico defeated the Netherlands 11-1; and Canada beat Saudi Arabia 13-5.

But no team put on a display like Chandler (1-0), which had 17 hits, including 10 for extra bases.

The first three batters in Chandler's lineup resemble a Little League Murderer's Row. Seth Fretheim led off the game with a homer and followed with another shot in the sixth. No. 3 hitter Luke Parrish was 4-for-5, including a homer and a double.

Cody Bellinger was sandwiched in between them in the lineup. Listed at 5-foot-1 and 87 pounds, the second baseman hardly looks imposing at the plate.

But appearances can be deceiving. Cody said his father took him to the batting cage regularly before tournament season.

Clay Bellinger hit .193 over four seasons in his major league career. He played in two World Series for New York, winning in 2000 against the Mets and losing the following season against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

His hitting advice and major league experience are paying off with Chandler.

"One of the great things about him, despite being a major league player and having a World Series ring, he ultimately knows that we're here for the kids, and it's really about them,'' Arizona coach Chris McCann said.

Bellinger has been able to help soothe the team's nerves, telling them to block out the bright lights in South Williamsport.

"I was more nervous in regionals," his son said with a sheepish grin. "I don't know why though."

Salisbury kept rallying Saturday after falling behind early. Craig East hit a three-run shot in the second and Ryan Aebly added a solo shot over the hedges in left field to cut the lead to 9-4, pumping his fist as he rounded first and bumping fists with his third-base coach before being greeted by several teammates at the plate.

They scored again in the fifth before loading the bases with two outs, but Seth Windmuller popped out to first to end the threat.

"This team, they can come back," manager Chris Yingling said. "They got a lot of heart, a lot of determination. They know they got some good bats."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press