LLWS dream ends for Preston, Md., in U.S. semis

Thousand Oaks, Calif., gets scare, then 3-1 win

Little League World Series

August 27, 2004|By Chris Masse | Chris Masse,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Thousand Oaks, Calif., ended the summer-long pursuit of a world championship last night for Preston, Md., at the Little League Baseball World Series - but not before Preston put a scare into the U.S. West champions.

Thomas Howe scored Ben LaNeve with a game-tying infield single in the fourth inning before the West champions scored runs in the fifth and sixth innings and pulled away for a 3-1 win in the U.S. semifinals at Lamade Stadium.

Thousand Oaks (21-0) advances to tomorrow's U.S. championship to play Richmond, Texas, an 8-2 winner over Morganton, N.C., on Wednesday night.

Preston ended its historic season with a 14-5 record. The Maryland state champions exceeded the expectations of manager Curtis Payne and won their first Mid-Atlantic Regional championship.

"I thought we could play very well and be competitive at the state level." Payne said after last Tuesday's loss to Richmond, Texas. "Everything else we got was extra. We played above and beyond our potential at the regionals, and that got us here. We played very well. We were up against some excellent competition, and we gave it our best."

Ryan Hood's error paved the way for Thousand Oaks" game- winning rally. Hood misplayed Danny Leon's two-out pop fly in the top of the fifth inning, and Leon reached second when the ball rolled into shallow left field.

One batter later, winning pitcher Sean McIntyre scored Leon with a single to left field. DaVonta DeShields prevented another run from scoring two batters later on Tyler Karp's single to center. DeShields relayed to Bennett, who threw out pinch runner James Brady trying to score from second.

Payne's son, Robbie, pitched a solid game against a Thousand Oaks team that outscored its 21 previous opponents, 156-23. Payne scattered nine hits over six innings and struck out three.

Thousand Oaks had scored 22 runs in its first three Series wins.

Preston had opportunities to take the lead throughout the game, leaving runners on base in every inning. Preston's last chance to take the lead came in the bottom of the fifth when Hunter Bennett hit a two-out double down the left-field line. McIntyre, though, ended the threat, getting Brady Hare to fly out to center.

One inning earlier, Preston threatened to take the lead after Howe hit his two-out infield single between first and second base. McIntyre ended the rally moments later, striking out Wil Staton.

Preston left runners in scoring position in the second, third and fifth innings. The Mid-Atlantic champions had a series-best seven hits through five innings but managed just one run.

John Lister provided relief pitcher Cody Thomson with an insurance run, leading off the top of the sixth inning with a home run to center.

Thomson entered to start the sixth inning and walked leadoff hitter Chad Hicks. Thomson, though, retired the next three batters and ended the game by striking out Nikolaus Nowottnick.

Thousand Oaks 001 011 - 3 9 0

Preston 000 100 - 1 7 2

Robbie Payne and Brady Hare. Sean McIntyre, Cody Thomson (6) and John Lister. W-McIntyre. L-Payne. S-Thomson.

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