|ESPN.com: Little League World Series 2009||[Print without images]|
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Like any good Little League coach, California manager Oscar Castro urges his players to make good contact, jump on mistakes and swing for line drives.
Unfortunately for their opponents, too many of those liners are landing over the outfield fence -- 10 already over their first two games at the World Series.
No wonder the southern California sluggers from Chula Vista are a favorite to take this year's title.
Their winning streak through the Little League playoffs continued Sunday with a 14-0 shutout of Peabody, Mass., a tight game that became wide open with a 12-run sixth inning -- 11 scoring with two outs.
"We all said to ourselves, 'Finally, we woke up,'" said 13-year-old pitcher-first baseman Luke Ramirez. "Everyone kept hitting, hitting, hitting."
The 6-foot, 212-pound Ramirez usually leads the way on offense -- he hit two homers in a 15-0 win over Kentucky on Saturday night that traveled well past the outfield fences 225 feet from the plate.
But Ramirez went 0 for 2 on Sunday, striking out twice. Instead, the imposing slugger chipped in on the mound, striking out 11 over four innings in combining with two other relievers to shut out Peabody.
No team has shown it can rival California's pint-sized Murderer's Row.
California's seven homers Saturday night were the most for one Little League team at the series since the tournament expanded from eight to 16 teams in 2001. They also hit 39 homers over six games in winning the West regional tournament to get them to South Williamsport.
But that imposing lineup could barely break through early Sunday against Massachusetts starter Matt Hosman, who struck out 10 in four-plus innings.
The tide swung in the sixth, with Hosman out because he had reached his 85 pitch-count limit.
It was 3-0 with two outs in the sixth when Andy Rios hit the first of his two homers.
By the time Kiko Garcia flied out to the warning track in right to end the inning, the score was 14-0 and Volunteer Stadium had emptied out.
"I told them we almost pulled it off, almost got it done," Massachusetts manager David Batchelor said. "The score didn't indicate the type of game it was."
Castro has said his players don't come to the plate looking for home runs, but for pitching mistakes they can turn into line drives -- a philosophy that finally paid off.
"Eventually I knew our team was going to have to wake up because we are a tremendous hitting team," Ramirez said. "He speaks with the polished demeanor of someone twice his age, and hits like a big leaguer."
Leading 3-0, Washington starter Keegan Ogard allowed just one hit until the fifth, when Iowa started making solid contact. Ross Kramer doubled, moved to third on Spencer Sturges' single and scored on Robert Vanderlinden's two-base hit.
That set up Quirk's dramatic homer over the right-field wall. Giddy teammates greeted him with high-fives at home plate.
The winner of Iowa's next game, Monday night against Staten Island, N.Y., advances to the next round.
Aidan Plummer tripled and scored twice to lead winless Washington.
Nicholas Smisek hit a grand slam and Steven Cardone added a three-run homer to help San Antonio, Texas, score 12 runs in the third inning Sunday and beat Russellville, Ky.
The win, coupled with California's 14-0 victory later Sunday over Massachusetts, allowed Texas to clinch a berth in the second round.
Drew Brooks doubled to start the outburst and advanced to third on an error. John Shull followed with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead. Later, Smisek greeted reliever Zach Denney with a grand slam just inside the left-field foul pole for an 8-0 lead.
Smisek was questionable for the game after getting sick Friday night.
Kentucky tried to rally in the first when Barrett Croslin and Caleb Brunner each singled and an error loaded the bases. Shull got a groundout to end the threat.
The game ended after four innings because of the 10-run rule.
Wen Hua Sung and Hung Yuan Lin each homered and three pitchers combined on a two-hitter to lead Taoyuan, Taiwan, past Vancouver, British Columbia.
Hao Yu Lin added two hits and two RBIs for unbeaten Taiwan.
Canada starter Matteo Vincelli escaped jams in the first and second innings before Taiwan broke through in the third. Yuan Ting Tai led off with a walk before Sung's homer to left-center gave Taiwan a 2-0 lead.
Hung Yuan Lin came on in relief in the first to pitch four-plus innings, allowing one hit and striking out five for the victory.
Winless Canada's only hits came on a double by Vincelli and a triple by Ian Creamore.
Japan took an 11-10 lead in the top of the sixth after Curacao committed two errors on the same play with two outs to allow Naoto Ogura to score from second.
But Curacao tied it in the bottom of the sixth on Bicentini's RBI double. After a single sent him to third, Libert bunted to the first baseman, and Bicentini broke for home on the throw to first for the out.
The 12 year-old then beat the throw home by a half-step, setting off a Curacao celebration at the plate.
Motoki Takashima had a two-run homer for Japan.Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.