Northridge Falls to Venezuela, 4-3 : Baseball: Three-hour rain delay doesn’t deter South American team in final game of Little League World Series.
Venezuela ended the United States’ two-year run as Little League champion, beating the California team whose city was ravaged by an earthquake seven months ago.
Venezuela came back after a three-hour rain delay Saturday and defeated Northridge, 4-3, to become the first Latin American team to win the title since 1958.
The game was scoreless in the third inning when rain, hail and lightning stopped play.
The storm left 18 inches of water in the outfield and when the game resumed 3 hours 5 minutes later, it was 7:20 p.m. EDT and ABC had cut away from its telecast in the East.
Northridge pitcher Justin Gentile, whose palm ball worked well before the break, and Venezuela pitcher Cesar Hidalgo each were in control when the severe weather hit. But after the game resumed, Gentile threw five wild pitches and gave up seven hits.
Gentile had a 3-2 count on Effinson Mora with two out in the top of the third when the storm came. After the delay and after a foul tip, Mora doubled to right field, where more than a foot of water had stood only two hours earlier. Mora took third when the next pitch sailed over catcher Matthew Cunningham’s head and scored two pitches later on Esteban Avila’s single to right.
The Venezuelans picked up another run in the fourth when Guillermo Quiroz reached on an error, moved to second on Hidalgo’s single and scored two wild pitches later.
Northridge tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth.
Mathew Fisher walked, then Matthew Cassel and Peter Tuber singled to load the bases. Michael Frost’s grounder to second forced Tuber at second, but Mora’s throw to first for the double play was off the mark and let Cassel score behind Fisher.
In the Venezuela fifth, Elio Perez singled to right, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored the go-ahead run on Avila’s second run-scoring single. Avila himself scored--on a wild pitch--after Erik Villalobos walked and Hildago singled.
Spencer Gordon hit his second home run of the Series in the bottom of the fifth, dropping the ball just over Avila’s glove in center field. Gordon’s three-run homer in Thursday’s semifinal put Northridge in the title game.
Cassel, Tuber and Frost went in order in the sixth to end the game.
Northridge was attempting to become the third California team in a row to win a World Series title. Long Beach won the last two.
Little League’s Latin American region hadn’t won a World Series championship since Monterrey, Mexico, won consecutive titles in 1957 and 1958. U.S. teams hadn’t won three consecutive titles since they won eight in a row after Monterrey’s last title.
The game marked Venezuela’s first appearance in a championship game.
Three California teams--El Cajon, San Jose and Granada Hills--won consecutive championships from 1961-63. Pennsylvania, with titles in the first two World Series, 1947 and 1948, is the only other state with titles in consecutive years.
Torrents of rain, then hail, inundated Lamade Stadium for 30 minutes. Fire station pumpers had water off the field in another hour.
The National Weather Service at Williamsport recorded three-quarters of an inch of rain within 25 minutes--a rate of nearly two inches per hour--and hail up to half an inch in diameter.
Lightning became so vivid that the public address announcer warned fans not to take shelter beneath the outfield scoreboard or stand too close to the 60-foot flagpole past the right field fence.