Two-hit pitching from a player who just recently took up the game of baseball and two home runs from a player who had a broken leg earlier this season propelled Cypress into the Thursday's U.S. final of the Little League World Series.
Kerrie Cordero struck out 12, including seven of the first nine he faced, and walked two while getting strong support from Eddie Zamora in Cypress' 9-0 victory over Brooklyn, Mich., in Tuesday's first round. Cypress is the Western Regional champion; Brooklyn won the Central Regional.
Earlier Tuesday, Canadian champion Trail, British Columbia, downed Latin American titlist Matamoros, Mexico, 8-3. The next opponent for Cypress will be the winner of today's game between East champ Shippensburg, Pa., and South champ Mobile, Ala.
Bob Brito, who caught Cordero's shutout Tuesday, is scheduled to be the starting pitcher in Thursday's game (11 a.m., PDT).
Kelly Craig, a 12-year-old girl who was the starting pitcher for Trail, lasted only three batters, giving up two singles and a walk. Craig went to first base and David Caron, who started the game at catcher, pitched six innings in relief for Trail.
Trail will play the winner of today's game between European champ Ramstein Air Force Base, West Germany, and Far East titlist Tainan County, Chinese Taipei, in Thursday's 2 p.m. game.
Cordero moved to Cypress with his family from Brooklyn, N.Y., two years ago and had never played baseball until last season, when he was taken in the eighth round of his Federal League's draft.
"He's a natural," Cypress Manager Gary Shelton said of Cordero. "He had a deadly breaking ball (Tuesday), and he can spot his fastball. When he's got both of them going, he's uncanny."
The right-hander had a no-hitter for 4 2/3 innings before Chris Chesney blooped a single to left.
"Kerrie's first question when he came off the field was, 'Was that a hit?' " Shelton said. Brooklyn's only other hit was a one-out double in the sixth by pinch-hitter Danny Lewis. In four previous games, the Central champs had struck out only 19 times.
"He did a nice job controlling his pitches," said Central Manager Dave Slusher. "He moved them around and just had an outstanding day. A pitcher that's on is tough to hit. He was on today."
Cypress built a 5-0 lead after two innings. In the first, Brito had a run-scoring double, Cordero added an RBI groundout and Jake Koziel drove in a run with a single.
Cypress scored two unearned runs in the second when Mark Slevcove and Damon Katz reached base on fielder's choices and scored on a throwing error to first by pitcher Brad Allen.
Cypress' remaining runs came on homers. Pat Murphy and Zamora hit back-to-back shots over the center-field fence leading off the fourth and Zamora added a two-run blast to center in the fifth.
"This is the middle of his season, now," said Shelton of Zamora, who missed 12 of his team's 28-game regular-season schedule after suffering a broken leg. "He's strong, and not only is he strong, he's the fastest kid on the team."
When asked why they had Zamora hitting eighth in the lineup, Cypress Coach Ron MacDonald said, "He's a feast or famine hitter. Eddie can hit it a long way, but when he strikes out, he's way off."