California, Texas, dig long ball at Little League (2024)

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa.SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa.— Like any good Little League coach, California manager Oscar Castro urges his players to make good contact, jump on mistakes and swing for line drives.

Unfortunately for their opponents, too many of those liners are landing over the outfield fence – 10 already over their first two games at the World Series.

No wonder the southern California sluggers from Chula Vista are a favorite to take this year’s title.

Their winning streak through the Little League playoffs continued Sunday with a 14-0 shutout of Peabody, Mass., a tight game that became wide open with a 12-run sixth inning – 11 scoring with two outs.

“We all said to ourselves, ‘Finally, we woke up,'” said 13-year-old pitcher-first baseman Luke Ramirez. “Everyone kept hitting, hitting, hitting.”

The 6-foot, 212-pound Ramirez usually leads the way on offense – he hit two homers in a 15-0 win over Kentucky on Saturday night that traveled well past the outfield fences 225 feet from the plate.

But Ramirez went 0 for 2 on Sunday, striking out twice. Instead, the imposing slugger chipped in on the mound, striking out 11 over four innings in combining with two other relievers to shut out Peabody.

“I’m not used to looking up at somebody,” said 12-year-old Steven Cardone, the 5-foot-9, power-hitting infielder who is the tallest player on his team from San Antonio, Texas.

Texas used the long ball, too, on Sunday, with Cardone and teammate Nicholas Smisek both going deep in a 12-run third inning to shut out Russellville, Ky., 12-0. The game ended after four innings because of the 10-run rule.

Texas’ next game is Tuesday night against California. Both teams have clinched berths into the next round.

In early games Sunday, Urbandale, Iowa, rallied from three runs down with a five-run fifth to beat Mercer Island, Wash., 5-3; and Taoyuan, Taiwan, shut out Vancouver, British Columbia, 8-0.

Willemstad, Curacao, won a wild game in the evening, beating Chiba City, Japan, 12-11 after Richendly Bicentini scored from third on a bunt in the bottom of the sixth.

No team has shown it can rival California’s pint-sized Murderer’s Row.

California’s seven homers Saturday night were the most for one Little League team at the series since the tournament expanded from eight to 16 teams in 2001. They also hit 39 homers over six games in winning the West regional tournament to get them to South Williamsport.

But that imposing lineup could barely break through early Sunday against Massachusetts starter Matt Hosman, who struck out 10 in four-plus innings.

The tide swung in the sixth, with Hosman out because he had reached his 85 pitch-count limit.

It was 3-0 with two outs in the sixth when Andy Rios hit the first of his two homers.

By the time Kiko Garcia flied out to the warning track in right to end the inning, the score was 14-0 and Volunteer Stadium had emptied out.

“I told them we almost pulled it off, almost got it done,” Massachusetts manager David Batchelor said. “The score didn’t indicate the type of game it was.”

Castro has said his players don’t come to the plate looking for home runs, but for pitching mistakes they can turn into line drives – a philosophy that finally paid off.

“Eventually I knew our team was going to have to wake up because we are a tremendous hitting team,” Ramirez said. He speaks with the polished demeanor of someone twice his age, and hits like a big leaguer.”

Iowa 5, Washington 3

With a slightly cheeky grin, 12-year-old Jake Quirk leaned back and described the highlight of his baseball career.

His opposite-field homer to right drove in three runs and helped Iowa overcome an early 3-0 deficit during the decisive five-run fifth inning.

“Um, well, it was the first pitch. I knew I was waiting for the perfect one to come,” Quirk said. “Nothing like that has ever happened to me to put us ahead.”

Leading 3-0, Washington starter Keegan Ogard allowed just one hit until the fifth, when Iowa started making solid contact. Ross Kramer began the rally with a pinch-hit double and, three batters later, Quirk went deep.

The winner of Iowa’s next game, Monday night against Staten Island, N.Y., advances to the next round.

Taiwan 8, Canada 0

Wen Hua Sung and Hung Yuan Lin each homered, and three pitchers combined on a two-hitter for Taiwan, which stands a good chance of advancing to the tournament’s next round.

Lin also pitched, striking out five and going four-plus innings of one-hit ball in relief to earn the victory.

Winless Canada’s only hits came on a double by Matteo Vincelli and triple by Ian Creamore.

Curacao 12, Japan 11

Trailing 11-10, Bicentini tied the game with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth. After moving to third, the 12-year-old broke for home after Japan threw to first for an out on a bunt attempt. Bicentini beat the throw back home by a half-step, setting off a Curacao celebration at the plate.

California, Texas, dig long ball at Little League (2024)


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