A Little Big Man Lifts Florida

Associated Press

Brandon Brewer kept the emphasis on "little" in the Little League World Series.

Brewer--all 4 feet 10, 81 pounds of him--hit a three-run homer and Apopka, Fla., defeated the Rolando Paulino team from the Bronx, N.Y., 8-2, in the U.S. championship game Saturday.

Brewer hit the first pitch he saw in the third inning over the center-field wall for his second home run of the tournament, bringing home Tyler Scanlon and Stuart Tapley and giving Florida a 3-1 lead. The outfield wall at Howard J. Lamade stadium is 205 feet.

"I just try to hit the ball hard every time I'm up to bat. I guess I hit that one pretty good," Brewer said.

Scanlon followed with another three-run shot--his first hit of the tournament--in the fourth inning, a 240-foot fly over the left-field wall that scored Ryan Markell and Jeff Lovejoy and put Florida ahead, 6-1.

"I hadn't been hitting well for the entire series," Scanlon said. "It really feels good. I just about had a heart attack."

Tapley (2-1) got the victory, striking out 12 and avenging an earlier loss to the Bronx. Luilli Vinas (1-1) took the loss.

In their previous meeting, Tapley came out nervous, loading the bases and walking in the first run before giving up a grand slam in the first inning. After that, he gave up only one hit in the 5-0 loss.

"I think he's thrown the ball pretty consistently for us ever since we started this run," said Apopka Coach Ken Tapley, Stuart's father.

Apopka (4-1) will play Japan, a 2-1 winner over Netherlands Antilles, in today's championship game.

When the Bronx defeated Apopka in the first meeting, Danny Almonte threw a perfect game with 16 strikeouts.

But Almonte couldn't pitch Saturday--Little League rules prohibit pitchers from throwing consecutive games in the tourna-ment--and Vinas was vulnerable. Before Brewer's go-ahead run, Tapley hit a third-inning double to right field that bounced high off the wall. Will Blankenship, who has four home runs in the tournament, also hit a ball to the warning track in the third.

"When their big kid isn't on the mound, it becomes a completely different ballgame," Ken Tapley said.

Vinas gave up five hits and two walks before being relieved.

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