Familiar win for Mexico earns advance
Brothers Rodriguez continue unbeaten streak in Williamsport
WIILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Sergio Rodriguez, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Eduardo Rodriguez and their teammates from Matamoros, Mexico, didn't just send unbeaten Mexico into the next round of the Little League World Series.
Their performance here Monday afternoon was more than a simple send-off -- plenty more. For the second game in a row, they used their bats to send a message to the other elite teams that remain in the World Series title picture.
"Sooner or later, I had confidence that our bats could explode," Mexico coach Gustavo Gomez said. "They did."
In a game that got out of control early, Mexico beat Guam, the Asia-Pacific Region champs, 10-0, in a shortened game because of the 10-run rule.
The Rodriguez boys were at the heart of the victory. Sergio and Emmanuel each homered, and Eduardo dazzled on the mound. He struck out seven and held Guam to two hits. It was a performance that could likely be giving other teams reason for concern.
"We're hitting the ball well," Sergio said. "We also have good pitching."
The pitching showed itself in the first and second. The hitting didn't explode until the second. It made a lot of noise, too.
Pitching for Guam, right-hander Parish Reyes hit Eduardo to open the inning. One out later, catcher Fernando Villegas doubled, and first baseman Eleazar Rojas singled in both runners. Second baseman Octavio Salinas worked Reyes for a walk.
That brought Tomas Castillo to the plate to face Reyes. Castillo cleared the bases with a homer, putting Mexico ahead, 5-0.
Before the inning ended, Sergio and Emmanuel hit solo homers back to back, supplying Eduardo with as much offense as he would need.
With the victory, Mexico gets the next two days off. It has a slot cemented in the next round, where the Rodriguez & Co., now able to relax a bit in the International Grove, will be facing tougher opposition [Japan or Venezuela] than they found in Pool C.
"It's really a matter of us wanting to win this World Series no matter what, regardless of the rival," Gomez said. "We know that we have to face these teams eventually, so we have to prepare ourselves to try to win the whole thing."
Gomez said he can't let his boys worry about those strong teams. Whoever is next is next, but he's in a position to prepare his team well. He said he plans to keep running his ballplayers through practice drills and to offer motivation.
"We have to be ready for our next opponent," he said.
Northwest 15, Mid-Atlantic 5: In a game the Northwest Region champs needed to win, coach Scott Mahlum's boys for Mill Creek, Wash., did just that.
They jumped ahead of Hagerstown, 5-0, in the first and continued to pile on the runs to keep themselves in contention for a berth in the next round. Coming into the game, Mill Creek had been winless, and a loss would have made its next game meaningless.
Now it will face winless Jeffersonville, Ind., in Pool A play, and a win will send Northwest into the next round. Mid-Atlantic finds a similar situation, but its task is more daunting now after the loss to Mill Creek.
Hagerstown, the Mid-Atlantic Region champs, must play unbeaten Lake Charles, La. But Hagerstown will need to play better than it did against Mill Creek.
"We were still in it early," Hagerstown coach Bill Abeles Jr. said. But when his team gave up seven runs in the fifth, it created a deficit that looked impossible to erase.
"That'll close a lot of doors," Adeles said. "It's tough to keep your chin up there."
In winning, Mill Creek got a pair of homers from Alec Kisena, who had five RBIs. Jason Todd went 4-for-4 with four RBIs to keep Mill Creek alive for a spot in the next round.
West 6, Midwest 4: Hawaii coach Timo Donahue knew his West Region champs had sown up a spot in the next round of the Series, which afforded him a luxury few teams had.
"We tried to save our arms," Donahue said. He used seven pitchers, and the move forced Hawaii to fight hard to remain unbeaten in the World Series.
His team needed the fifth-inning homer from Keelen Obedoza to beat winless Rapid City, S.D., winners of the Midwest Region.
"I haven't had a hit in a long time," Obedoza said. "I was excited about the home run." His homer broke a 4-4 tie.
In all, Hawaii recorded nine hits, breaking open the game against reliever Jesse Riddle.
Rapid City made good use of its four hits, which included Cale Fierro's homer. "We kept on battling," coach Doug Simons said. "Hawaii's a good team."
Caribbean 14, Europe 1: The team from Curacao scored runs early and often, as it sent Italy, winners of the Europe Region, home winless.
Curacao scored seven runs in the first two innings, but broke the game open with seven runs in the third. Juremi Profar paced the Curacao offense with a pair of homers. He knocked in a total of seven runs in biggest individual performance of the Series.
But Profar got plenty of support. Teammates Tivon Faneyte and Hemsley Martha also homered to back the two hit pitching of Claycandy Hariquez and Jayson Libert, who picked up the win with 2 1/3 innings of relief.
The game was called because of the 10-run rule, giving Curacao its first win with one game to play.
Southeast 8, New England 2: In a game that Shelton, Conn. looked as if it had won, 2-1, its victory turned into extra innings on Danny Lastra's leadoff home run in the top of the sixth.
What seemed to be a victory turned to defeat in the top of the seventh when Citrus Park, Fla., winners of the Southeast Region, revved up its offense and scored six times.
In this win-or-go-home ballgame, coach Joe McGuire's boys will stay, thanks to a barrage of late homers. But for much of the game, they had been handcuffed by the strong work of right-hander Tyler Tice, who dueled Wyatt Reid for the better part of the game.
"I knew the other pitcher was getting tired," Citrus Park coach Joe McGuire said. "We started hitting the ball harder and harder."
Lastra's homer, which tied the game, was an example of a ball that had been tattooed. Once Tice tried to carry on into the seventh, Citrus Park took its offense out of cold storage. It scored runs on Kevin Merrill's second homer of the game and on Brett Wilkosz's homer to advance to next round of the tournament.
Justice B. Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.