Saudi Arabia falls to Venezuela; both advance to semis

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The teams from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela had already advanced to the next round of the Little League World Series game, but they played like they were fighting just to stay alive on Tuesday.

Jose Martinez singled with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, lifting the Latin American champion, Lara, to a 1-0 victory over Dhahran in the final game of Pool C play for both teams.

With the game scoreless, Danger Freitez doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth. After a wild pitch sent him to third, the Saudi Arabians intentionally walked the next two hitters, setting up Martinez's game-winning single.

"I am very proud to help my team," Martinez said through a interpretor. "I was just looking for any ball to hit or a fly ball so I could get the run home."

With the win, Lara (3-0) advances to play the Mexican champion from Matamoros -- the second seed from Pool D -- in the first game of the knockout round. Dhahran (2-1) plays the Japanese champion from Kawaguchi City, the top seed in Pool D.

"This is a very important victory because it raises their [the players'] hopes and desires to play well the rest of the way," Venezuelan manager Domingo Carrasquel said. "Perhaps that [last inning] will wake them up offensively."

Along with his heroics at the plate, Martinez had an impressive performance on the mound, pitching six innings, giving up three hits and striking out 13. Alexander Ramirez pitched two innings of relief to pick up the win.

Dhahran starter Andrew Holden pitched six innings, allowing only one hit with 17 strikeouts. Nate Barnett pitched one inning in relief, picking up the loss.