Defending champion Mexico avoided a major upset yesterday, edging the fourth-seeded Republic of Korea, 3-2, on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning in the single-elimination round of the Cal Ripken 12-and-Under World Series in Aberdeen.
Seeking its third consecutive World Series title, Mexico will face another tough opponent today when it takes on the Dominican Republic, an 8-0 winner over Australia, in the international championship game at 1:05 p.m.
Oahu, Hawaii, advanced to a third straight United States championship game by outlasting the Bronx, N.Y., 6-3, yesterday. Oahu will face Southeast Lexington, Ky., at 3:35 today. Southeast Lexington beat Willamette Valley, Ore., 5-0.
Oahu lost to West Raleigh, N.C., in last year's U.S. final.
Seung-Hen Song pitched as well as anybody has against Mexico in the last three years, but came up a hard-luck loser.
Song gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Islava in the bottom of the second inning, but his teammates tied it with two unearned runs in the top of the fourth.
"I hit a curve ball for the homer and it's the first time I've ever done that [curve for a home run]," said Islava through an interpreter about his shot that hit the scoreboard in right-center 275 feet away.
"I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it. I was very, very happy."
After getting an unassisted putout at first base for the second out in the fourth, Mexico first baseman Kiko Mendoza made an unecessary throw to third that went into the dugout, scoring two runs and tying the game.
Song, who went all the way for Korea (1-3 in pool play), giving up four hits and striking out 11, gave up a one-out double to Ray Orosco in the bottom of the fifth. A couple of wild pitches gave Mexico its winning run.
In the Dominican Republic's win, Amiro Santana pitched a four-hitter with nine strikeouts and one walk and was supported by a nine-hit attack. Santana and Marcos Mejias drove in two runs each, and Steven Paredes had two hits for the victors.
Oahu scored all six of its runs in its first at-bat and made them stand up behind three innings of relief by Jordan Deponte and two inning-ending double plays.
"We came out smoking and didn't score again, but that's baseball," said Oahu manager Gerald Oda.
Kewby Meyer, who came to pitch the sixth and earned a save, started it off for Oahu with a run-scoring triple. Gavin Okada and Cory Quiamzon also drove in single runs and catcher Kash Kalohelani tripled in the other two.
The Bronx pecked away, but hit into double plays in the fourth and fifth innings.
Trevor Gott and Devin Jackson combined on a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts to lead Southeast Lexington to its win. Gott worked the first two innings with five strikeuts and Jackson the final four.
Ripken World Series
W L Pct. GB
SE Lexington, Ky. 3 1 .750 -
Bronx, N.Y. 3 1 .750 -
West Raleigh, N.C. 2 2 .500 1
Jackson, Mo. 2 2 .500 1
Hickory Fountain Green 0 4 .000 3
W L Pct. GB
Oahu, Hawaii 4 0 1.000 -
Willamette Valley, Ore. 3 1 .750 1
Meridian, Miss. 2 2 .500 2
Calvert County 1 3 .250 3
Marblehead, Mass. 0 4 .000 4
W L Pct. GB
Mexico 4 0 1.000 -
Dominican Republic 3 1 .750 1
Australia 2 2 .500 2
Republic of Korea 1 3 .250 3
Canada 0 4 .000 4
Single-elimination playoffs At Cal Sr.'s Yard International games Dominican Republic 8, Australia 0 Mexico 3, Republic of Korea 2 United States games Oahu, Hawaii 6, Bronx, N.Y. 3 SE Lexington, Ky. 5, Willamette Valley, Ore. 0
At Cal Sr.'s Yard International championship Dominican Republic vs. Mexico, 1:05 p.m. United States championship Oahu, Hawaii vs. SE Lexington, Ky., 3:35 p.m.
At Cal Sr.'s Yard World Series title game International champion vs. U.S. champion, 7:05 p.m.