Washington state team moves on at Little League WS


A towel draped around his neck, Jason Todd flashed a smile from ear to ear.

Faced with elimination from the Little League World Series for the second straight game, Mill Creek, Wash., came through in the clutch. Alex Jondal drove home Todd on a deep single to left field with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to give Washington a thrilling 3-2 win Tuesday to advance to the U.S. semifinals.

"I was just ecstatic, going on off a walk-off at the Little League World Series," the 12-year-old Todd said about scoring the winning run. "I'll remember it the rest of my life."

Tivon Faneyte took a starring role too, pitching five innings of hitless relief and adding an RBI single to help Willemstad, Curacao, shut out Yona, Guam, 3-0 to advance to the international semifinals. Guam was eliminated.

Curacao's opponent today will be Tokyo, which won a wild 5-4 game in seven innings over Maracaibo, Venezuela. Mexico and Venezuela will play in the other international semifinal on Thursday.

Hagerstown, Md., beat Lake Charles, La., 6-4 but still got eliminated Tuesday night. Louisiana and Washington advanced on tiebreakers after matching Maryland with 2-1 records in Pool A.

Maryland outfielder Mark Grunberg, who made a spectacular catch in the first to save a hit, isn't ready to let his summer end. School starts for him today.

Is he ready to go back? "No," he said with wide grin. "It's still baseball season."

Washington plays Hawaii in one U.S. semifinal tonight, with Louisiana and Florida playing the other semifinal Thursday.

The boys from Washington have become experts at staving off elimination. They beat Maryland 15-5 in a crucial game Monday when Todd went 4-for-4 and added four RBIs.

On Tuesday, he teamed with Jondal to form a potent duo at the plate and on the field. Todd started the game and threw 11 strikeouts to Jondal, the catcher.

Down 2-1, Jondal doubled home Todd with two outs in the bottom of the fifth for the tying run.

Two innings later they were in the same situation.

Todd walked, then went to second on a wild pitch and reached third on a throwing error. After Indiana reliever Christopher Wenger got a strikeout, Jondal came up and hit his deep single to the warning track that fell just out of reach of left fielder Brad Koerner.

Todd pumped his fist as he crossed the plate while jubilant teammates mobbed Jondal at first base.

"I was thinking that I had to shorten up my swing and get a hit so we could win," Jondal said with a grin.

Indiana finished 0-3, but manager Derek Ellis said just getting to the World Series was a big enough accomplishment.

"Not many kids can say they played at the Little League World Series playing against the top teams in the United States," Ellis said.

Yutaka Takeshita's sacrifice fly in the two-run seventh proved to be the decisive run in Japan's win. Venezuela had chances to tie or win late in this back-and-forth game but fell short on the basepaths.

Aroldo Sanchez homered in the bottom of the seventh to close the lead to 5-4, but the potential tying run was later thrown out at the plate.

Venezuela's apparent winning run in the bottom of the sixth was disallowed after an umpire ruled that runner Jesus Tremont had left second base before the pitch crossed the plate, a Little League baserunning rule.

For Curacao, the win fulfilled expectations in baseball-crazy Willemstad. But Faneyte thought he could have been better despite striking out nine.

"I know I didn't give up a hit, but I did not have 100 percent control of my (pitches) so I'm not satisfied," Faneyte said through interpreter Alecto Nicholaas.

Also Tuesday, White Rock, British Columbia, scored five runs in the fifth to rally past Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 7-5. Both teams had already been eliminated from title contention.

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