Troy Gilliland K's 6 to lift Georgia
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- His team idled Monday night because of rain, Matthew Lang didn't waste a pitch when he got to the plate Tuesday.
Called on to pinch hit, the cheerful 13-year-old sent the first pitch he saw the opposite way for a homer to left-center to help keep Columbus, Ga., unbeaten at the Little League World Series with a 6-0 shutout of Hamilton, Ohio.
He's got something to boast about to his big brother, Ryan, who played on the Georgia team that won the 2006 title.
"Um, I just wanted to get my pitch, first pitch," said Lang, who smiled from cheek to cheek. "I was sitting fastball. It was fastball. ... I turned on it and hit it over."
His homer gave Georgia a 5-0 lead in the fourth, more than enough cushion for the stellar pitching of Troy Gilliland. He struck out six and tossed a five-hit shutout against a potent offense that had scored 16 runs in its previous game.
"Wow, you can't pitch any better than that," said Georgia manager Randy Morris, who also coached the 2006 team. "He probably didn't miss his spots three times all game."
In other games Tuesday, Toms River, N.J., shut out Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 10-0 in a consolation game; Chitre, Panama, eliminated Vancouver, British Columbia, after a 4-2 win; Auburn, Wash., eliminated Fairfield, Conn., after a 9-5 victory; and Tokyo clinched a berth in Saturday's international final with a 3-2 win Tuesday night over Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
Gilliland escaped a potential jam in the fifth after when a runner was thrown out at third with nobody out, and he got a popup and flyout to end the inning. Georgia's bats came up big instead all game, with Kobie Buglioli and Blake Hicks also hitting homers.
There was a little intrigue later when Ohio manager Ken Coomer said his team had some trouble in Georgia's three-run first inning because Georgia was stealing signs.
Hicks, who doubled to lead off the game, admitted to giving his team an advantage -- though he wasn't doing a good job of being discreet.
"It was pretty obvious," the 12-year-old catcher joked. "Might as well say, 'Hey, I'm giving the signs."
Japan 3, Mexico 2
Kaname Shinozaki's solo homer in the fourth inning broke a tie, and Tokyo, Japan, clinched a spot in the Little League World Series international finals with a win over Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
Japan turned aside two late threats, with the potential go-ahead run at the plate each time. After a leadoff walk in the fifth, first baseman Konan Tomori caught a line drive and stepped on first for a double play.
In the sixth, a walk to Ricardo Puga brought Eduardo Mata to the plate, who just missed the game-winning homer after flying out to the right field warning track.
Closer Ichiro Ogasawara ended the game with consecutive strikeouts.
"Because of Mexico's power, I wasn't trying to throw any easy balls," the 13-year-old lefty said. "I was really scared because I thought that ball was going out."
Enrique Penaloza and Puga each homered for Mexico, which was eliminated.
Washington 9, Connecticut 5
Reliever Isaiah Hatch got Auburn, Wash., out of a fifth-inning jam, then homered in the sixth to help the Northwest champs to a win over Fairfield, Conn.
Hatch was Washington's 5-foot-6 triple threat, involved in three double plays at shortstop before moving to the mound with his team ahead one with one out in the bottom of the fifth and runners on second and third. He got a strikeout and groundout to end the threat.
"I was kind of nervous, but I knew our defense had my back," Hatch said, showing his braces while smiling.
Hatch padded the lead with a two-run homer to left in the sixth. He also recorded the final out after being moved back to shortstop from the mound, stepping on second for a forceout on a grounder.
Nick Nardone homered and went 3 for 4 for Connecticut, which was eliminated.
Washington's Casey Manning added a homer and five RBIs, while Hatch finished 4 for 4 with four runs.
"Yeah, that was, by far, my best game," Hatch said.
New Jersey 10, Saudi Arabia 0
Kevin Blum homered, tripled twice and struck out eight to lead Toms River, N.J., to a win over Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in a Little League World Series consolation game.
Russell Petranto, Patrick Marinaccio and Joey Rose also homered to give New Jersey its first World Series win.
Blum was sharp on the mound against the Saudi Arabia squad comprised mainly of children of Americans living abroad that finished 0-3. The 13-year-old righty allowed just a single each to Braden Barnett and Julian Kinney over five innings before Anthony Deceglie finished the shutout.
After a home run in the second, Blum tripled to right in the fifth and darted home off an errant throw by Christopher Griman. Originally, Danyal Rashid was charged with the error, but Little League vice president Lance Van Auken said the official scoring was changed Wednesday to remove the error from Rashid.
Blum and Marinaccio each went 3 for 4 and scored three runs.
"We knew the bus ride home would be a lot [more fun] with a win," the 12-year-old Marinaccio said.
While the games were fun, the players said they would also remember the friendships they made with the Japan team, who lived next door in the dorms. Blum and Russell Petranto both proudly said they beat Japan players in table tennis.
"And I always want to remember running out on the field the first time at the Little League World Series," the 13-year-old Petranto said.
It was the 11th straight year the league from Dhahran advanced to South Williamsport.
This year's squad was a little overwhelmed by the World Series hype, manager Jeffrey Barnett said.
"I think they've been rather star-struck all week," Barnett said. "I mean, they're 11 and 12."
Panama 4, Canada 2
Luis Bazan struck out nine and Chitre, Panama, took advantage of sloppy fielding by Vancouver, British Columbia, to stay alive at the Little League World Series.
With the score 1-1, Panama took the lead in the third when Abel Gallardo scored on an error. Two more runs scored in the fourth after a bad throw off Alberto Quintero's grounder to third sailed into right field. Two runners scored, making it 4-1.
Canada added a run in the sixth when Lucas Soper tripled and scored on a passed ball. Bazan struck out the game's final two batters.
Zach Chaba also homered for Canada.
After an opening-day loss to Canada, Panama won the rematch and advanced to play Taiwan on Wednesday evening.
It's a daunting task to beat Taiwan, which has outscored opponents 41-0 over its first two games. Panama will have to beat them twice to get to the international finals Saturday.
Manager Cristobal Salerno displayed some Little League bravado.
"I think if we win the first game, they will crumble a little bit," Salerno said through interpreter Luis Sanchez.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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