LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES : Offense Deserts Northridge, 4-2
Steve Kruger pitched a one-hitter and had the game-winning hit Monday night as Brooklyn Center, Minn., beat Northridge, 4-2, in the first round of the Little League World Series.
Springfield, Va., beat Middleboro, Mass., 2-1, in the other American first round game when Ethan Lare homered to lead off the eighth.
Taiwan, back in the World Series for the first time since 1991, beat Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, 4-1, in the international opener and Eduardo Ferrer pitched a one-hitter and homered as Venezuela beat Saudi Arabia, 5-1.
Since tournament play began last month, Kruger has been used exclusively as a reliever, working the sixth inning of most games and seldom working more than three innings.
“He’s our best pitcher. He has potentially the best stuff,” manager Larry Wendell said. “We usually use him the sixth inning of every game, but we are at the end of the line.”
Kruger’s fifth-inning single broke a 1-1 tie, scoring Chris DeMars, who doubled and moved to third on a passed ball. Eric Tauscheck followed with a two-run homer.
Northridge scored a run in the sixth on Matthew Cunningham’s groundout after Michael Frost walked and moved to third on a sacrifice and an error.
Cunningham homered in the first to give Northridge a 1-0 lead. Brooklyn Center tied the game in the fourth on Tauscheck’s single, Krissy Wendell’s grounder to second and two wild pitches.
Kruger (1-0) struck out six. Nathaniel Dunlap (0-1) had 13 strikeouts for Northridge, which lost for the first time in 18 tournament games.
“To heck with those guys getting paid,” Springfield manager Jim Hamilton said of striking major-league players after Lare won the game for the Southern champions. “This was a great ball game.”
Lare lined a fastball over the fence in left-center to win the game for Paul Weishar (1-0), who replaced Lare as the starting pitcher for Springfield. Lare was moved to shortstop so he can pitch later this week.
Kevin Brower (0-1) pitched a complete game in a losing effort.
Middleboro manufactured a run in the third after Patrick Hannon walked and Jake Kutzy singled to left. Brandon Soule sacrificed, and Hannon scored on Christian Perry’s grounder.
In the fourth inning, Andrews walked and reached third, but came home without tagging up on Eric Miller’s fly to right. When Andrews realized his mistake, it was too late for him to retreat to third.
“He just took off. They’re 12-year-olds. They’re going to make mistakes,” Hamilton said.
One batter later, Middleboro first baseman Brandon Brower threw home after fielding Roberto Carrero’s grounder, but catcher Daryl Bradford didn’t attempt a tag as Andrews slid beneath him safely.
Andrews’ mistake, however, kept pinch-runner Richie Kyle from taking third on Miller’s fly ball. Otherwise, he could have scored on Carrero’s grounder.
As both pitchers worked overtime, batters began to hit the ball more sharply. Carrero flied out to the wall for the final out in the sixth.
Weishar struck out 14 and Brower had eight strikeouts.