Florida team and Mexico to play for world title

Ripken World Series

August 16, 2008|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun reporter

It took 11 1/2 innings and the first error of the night, but Mexico finally got the break it needed to beat Japan, 4-0, and win the international championship of the Cal Ripken World Series last night in Aberdeen.

Mexico, the defending champion, will play U.S. champion Jupiter, Fla., at 3 p.m. today for the world championship here in cozy Cal Sr.'s Yard, a petite replica of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Jupiter came back from a two-run deficit to beat Lexington, Ky., 7-2, last night, led by Kevin Fry, who had a home run, two runs and two RBIs. Fry also pitched all six innings, allowing just three hits and two runs. He struck out eight and ended the night with a 1.95 ERA.

The international game was also supposed to be six innings, just like the U.S. game. But it took 12 innings over three hours and 24 minutes to determine a winner, making it the longest game in Major/70 (12-year-olds and under competition and 70-foot base paths).

The pros might be envious of the perfection Mexico and Japan showed.

It wasn't until the top of the 12th that either team stumbled. With one out, Japan's pitcher Gaisho Kosuga walked Mexico's second baseman, David Salcido. Stepping to the plate, Mario Rodriguez, who pitched the final 4 2/3 innings, hit a grounder to third that allowed Salcido to advance to second. The speedy second baseman then went to third on the throw to first. Rodriguez was out, but Japan's first baseman, Taisuke Egawa, hurried a throw back to third in an attempt to stop Salcido, only to overthrow the third baseman, allowing Salcido to score and break the 0-0 tie and the heart of Japan's pitcher.

Kosuga then gave up a walk and a single and watched in horror as Mexico's center fielder Emilio Arvizu hit a home run over the 263-foot center-field fence.

"During the last few innings, we were just playing for one run," Mexico manager Bernardo Tapja Huerrero said. "Obviously, we're happy to get a win in a game like that, but it's just a shame that their pitcher who had a perfect game had to come away empty-handed."

Japan's starting pitcher, Shogo Sakai, pitched a perfect six innings, striking out nine. He threw 60 pitches, 41 for strikes.

Mexico's Jesus Rios, who hit two batters, was just as effective. He allowed one hit in regulation, and Japan's three base runners never got home.

"We did the best we could," Japan's manager Koji Kondo said. "Our starting pitcher had a perfect game, so we can't complain about that. It was a great game all around and we are honored to play a great team like Mexico."

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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