Northridge Is Lifted by Tuber : Baseball: Right-hander strikes out 13 in 6-4 victory over Middleboro, Mass., in Little League World Series.
Peter Tuber caught the scent of victory the moment he took the mound Tuesday, and the Northridge right-hander proceeded to make hitters from Middleboro, Mass., whiff at his pitches for six innings.
Tuber struck out 13, leading Northridge to a 6-4 victory before 10,000 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium. It was Northridge’s first victory in Little League World Series play.
“I walked onto this field I had been dreaming about for so long, and it just smelled so good,” Tuber said. “I felt relaxed and pitched my game.”
After being held to one hit in a 4-2 first-round loss to Brooklyn Center, Minn., Monday, Northridge broke loose offensively in the third inning, scoring four runs.
After Spencer Gordon drove in the first run with a single off the center-field fence, first baseman Matt Cassel smacked a three-run home run with one out. Cassel, who missed the Western Regional championship game Friday because of a cut on his left hand that required seven stitches, also had Northridge’s first hit, a single in the second.
“The first hit gave me confidence and when I came up again I knew we needed a big hit,” he said.
Middleboro came back with three runs in the fourth, but Northridge second baseman Justin Gentile countered with a home run on the first pitch of the bottom of the inning. Northridge scored in the sixth on a run-scoring single by Gregg Wallis.
Northridge will complete pool play today at 4:30 p.m. PDT against Springfield, Va., the Southern Region champion. ESPN will televise the game. Springfield, the only unbeaten U.S. team, defeated Brooklyn Center on Tuesday, 4-1, after beating Middleboro, 2-1, in eight innings Monday.
Northridge can advance to the U.S. championship on Thursday two ways. If Middleboro defeats Brooklyn Center today at 10 a.m. PDT, Northridge must defeat Springfield, enabling Northridge and Springfield to advance.
If Brooklyn Center defeats Middleboro, Northridge must defeat Springfield by more than six runs and allow three fewer runs than Brooklyn Center does in its victory against Middleboro. That would also enable Northridge and Springfield to advance.
Coming off its first setback in two months of tournament play, Northridge (18-1) needed a solid performance from Tuber, who retired 10 of the first 11 batters and at one point struck out five in a row.
The league in Middleboro prohibits pitchers from throwing curveballs. Tuber showed them what they’d been missing, and miss they did, flailing away futilely at the 5-foot-9 hurler’s breaking pitches. Mixing in fastballs that registered 66 m.p.h. on a radar gun, Tuber ran into trouble only in the fourth.
Middleboro strung together four hits in a row with one out, including back-to-back doubles by identical twins Kevin and Brandon Brower. Gentile made a nice play to his left on a ground ball for the second out, but a run scored on the play to cut Northridge’s lead to 4-3. Tuber struck out Jake Kutzy to end the inning.
The runs in the fourth and fifth innings gave Tuber some breathing room. Brandon Brower hit a solo home run to lead off the sixth, but Tuber kept his poise and struck out the side.
“We knew they hadn’t seen many curveballs, and Peter really had command of his curve today,” said Northridge Manager Larry Baca, who calls the pitches from the dugout. “I didn’t even consider having anyone come on in relief.”
Winning provided the entire Northridge contingent with an overwhelming sense of relief. The fact that the game was played so early--it ended at noon PDT--enhanced the feeling.
“It’s sunny out, life changes day to day,” Coach George Saul said, looking skyward and squinting. “Yesterday we were hurting, but now we have all day to enjoy this.”
In second-round games matching foreign teams, Maracaibo, Venezuela, defeated Chinese Taipei, 4-1, and Dhahrain, Saudi Arabia, defeated Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, 6-2. Pool play will conclude today with Chinese Taipei (1-1 in series play) facing Dhahrain (1-1) at 7 a.m. PDT and Maracaibo (2-0) facing Nova Scotia (0-2) at 1 p.m. PDT.
With its victory over Taipei, Maracaibo has emerged as the favorite to represent the foreign teams in the World Series championship Saturday. Cesar Hidalgo pitched a two-hitter, striking out 15 and walking three, and Elio Perez homered for Maracaibo.