MINNEAPOLIS -- Kerry Kelley had spent two years playing for the Venice, Calif., Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) senior baseball team and was ready for this first year of college. Kelley was in his first year at California State-San Bernardino and was asked to return to the Venice RBI team by the coaches.
"I love the RBI program," Kelley said. "When the coach asked me to come back for a third year, I told him, 'Of course.' I loved the experience. We didn't make it last year. We lost in the regionals and came back this year strong. I thought the team was really close. I knew we were going to win it."
Kelley's return paid off in a big way on Sunday, as Venice won the 2011 RBI World Series senior division title with a 10-0 win against Harrisburg, Pa. It's the second title in three years for Venice.
Kelley was named the championship game MVP after pitching a one-hit shutout, throwing six innings. He walked two batters and struck out one.
He was also named the MVP in 2009 with another complete-game performance. But after having pitched each previous day of the tournament, Kelley wasn't sure he would get the ball for the championship game.
"When we went down to breakfast this morning, he asked me who was pitching," Venice coach James Bishop said. "I was kidding with him, telling him I didn't know. He looked at me and said, 'Come on coach, give me the ball.' I gave him the baseball and he did an outstanding job. One-hitter -- what more could you ask for?"
While Kelley wasn't sure he would be the game's starter, Bishop didn't have much doubt.
"Of course not -- that's my guy," Bishop said. "Big games like that, he always comes through."
Venice's Juan Avena finished 4-for-4 Sunday with two runs and two RBIs. Alex Newman added a two-run home run into the left-field seats for just his second hit of the tournament.
"Alex is a five-tool player," Bishop said. "He's just a little green right now. He just needs a little more work, a lot more game situations. He's going to be an outstanding player, I guarantee you."
Avena came through with the big performance after dedicating the game to his sister, who passed away earlier this year.
"I did this game for her," Avena said. "I played my butt off. We got the championship and now we go back to Compton."
Kelley was throwing strikes from the beginning of the game and used a stellar defense to set down Harrisburg.
Harrisburg's Tyler Sinkovitz had a first-inning single for the only hit Kelley would allow.
"I trust my defense," Kelley said. "That's what you have to do as a pitcher. I don't try and strike everyone out. I know they are going to make a diving catch or make a great play on the infield. I've played with all these guys at the Academy for four years and it's great to play with them."
Steve Pascual's two-run single in the sixth inning ended the game due to the run rule.
Even in the loss, Harrisburg coach Robert Martin knows his team has come a long way this season.
"As they fly back, perspective will seep in," Martin said. "They will realize we've only been a program for three years, and to be on this field against Compton -- a storied program -- in only three years is an unbelievable accomplishment."
James Wix took the loss for Harrisburg, pitching three innings while giving up four hits and two earned runs. He struck out three.
In the junior division, the Dominican Republic won its second straight RBI World Series title with a 9-6 win against Los Angeles.
"They worked hard for this," Dominican Republic coach Christian Pimentel said through interpreter Marcos Medina. "They have all got together and worked together to form good teams that are going to represent the Dominican Republic here in the United States."
Gustavo Cabrera won the championship game MVP award with two hits, three RBIs and a run scored. Ricardo Soriano earned the win, pitching 6 1/3 innings, giving up six runs (four earned ) on five hits and three walks. He struck out seven.
As soon as the Dominican team finished off the defense of their title, players and coaches were on cell phones, calling back home. In the baseball-enthusiastic Dominican Republic, the junior players and coaches know they will go home to a big welcome.
"As soon as they get home, they are like stars," Pimentel said. "Television, newspaper are all going to be there waiting for them.
"The difference there is the juniors are the future Major Leaguers that will be signing next year."
This year's Dominican junior team was vastly different from last year, with only three players returning. Pimentel had said this year's team was more well-rounded, and it showed in Sunday's finals.
The teams were tied, 2-2, after three innings, but the Dominican offense took control in the fourth. Juan Arias hit an RBI triple over the Los Angeles center fielder's head that bounced to the wall over 400 feet from home plate.
In the bottom of the fifth, Domingo Leyba from the Dominican Republic hit another triple over the center fielder's head, scoring two runs.
Los Angeles was playing without starting center fielder Tyree Davis -- who was one of the fastest players during Wednesday's workout day -- due to a wrist injury.
"It made a big difference not having our speed guy out there," Los Angeles coach Shannon Williams said. "They were squaring the ball up. When we missed our spots, they hit the ball pretty hard."
Cabrera followed with an RBI single, as the Dominican Republic put together a three-run fifth. Cabrera entered championship game hitting .412 in the tournament with a home run, seven RBIs and three stolen bases.
"He says it's an honor for him, because it shows he can play," Cabrera said, through Medina.
Reiny Beltre had a two-run double in the sixth, followed by a two-run single by Cabrera to finish the Dominican scoring.
Los Angeles had trailed in four straight games during the tournament, and again closed the gap with four runs in the top of the seventh.
"We were the comeback kids, so to speak," Williams said. "We've batted around three times in one inning, put up 20 runs in one inning. So we told them to believe, because I've seen it happen a couple of times. They battled."
Christopher Castellano had two hits and two RBIs for Los Angeles.
Starter Julian Perez took the loss, allowing five earned runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
It was the first loss of the season for Los Angeles.
"It comes at the most inopportune moment," Williams said.
Brian Hall is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.