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KUTNO, Poland — Joseph “Fish” Patrick proved himself a keeper Thursday by closing out Stuttgart-Wiesbaden’s 5-4 victory over Dubai to clinch a semifinal berth in Little League Baseball’s Transatlantic Regional tournament.

Taking over the Bulldogs’ pitching duties to start the fifth inning, Patrick saw his team’s 5-1 lead shrink to 5-3 after the first two batters he faced beat out infield grounders and moved around the bases to score on a wild pitch followed by a wild throw into the outfield.

Nail-biting time? Not for this cool Fish.

“I thought I could stop them,” Patrick, a lefty, said as he munched a postgame snack. “I’d seen them play before.”

Patrick’s confidence was well-founded. He followed his wild pitch by striking out the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 hitters in the Dubai batting order.

Patrick was back in touble in the sixth and final inning, after a lead-off single by Adam Holz and a two-out error resulted in Dubai’s fourth run and put the speedy Danny Ferris at third with the potential game-tying run.

Again, the situation was no problem. Fish calmly ended the game by fanning Brock Keener, fittingly, with a pitcher’s pitch, an offspeed offering in the dirt.

“I love to pitch,” said Patrick, a .333 hitter here who played first base in his team’s first two games and the first four innings of this one. “I consider myself a pitcher-first baseman.”

Offensively, Chris Byrd singled, doubled and drew an intentional walk to raise his batting average to .429, and second baseman Scooter Bynum, whose family has already left Gemany for Alaska, rapped two singles in two at-bats, scoring both times and driving in a run.

The victory by Stuttgart-Wiesbaden (2-1) kept Naples in the running for a semifinal berth in this six-day event, which determines which team of Americans living in Europe and the Middle East advances to the Little League World Series at Williamsport, Pa. The Italy champs, idle Thursday, and Dubai, both 0-3, are scheduled to play each other in the tourney’s final round-robin game at 3 p.m. Friday. The winner advances to a semifinal game Saturday against Saudi Arabia, the top team in the standings; the loser is eliminated.

Next up for the Bulldogs is England at 10 a.m. Friday. That will be a preview for a semifinal matchup on Saturday.

Thursday’s final game: Saudi Arabia 7, England 4 Saudi (4-0) jumped out to a 5-0 first-inning lead and claimed the top seed for Saturday’s semifinals despite surrendering their first runs in four games.

With his team trailing 7-0 in the bottom of the final inning, Joey Walter, who had tripled in his previous at-bat for the only extra-base hit given up by Saudi pitching here so far, opened with a single, and moved to third on Clay Dudek’s double to center field. After an intentional walk to Timmy Davison, J.T. Green walked to drive in a run.

Luke Wilson then forced Dudek at the plate on a comebacker to the pitcher before England starter Brett Fitzpatrick delivered a two-run single that ended the scoring.

Saudi is idle Friday and will play the winner of Friday’s showdown between Dubai and Naples in Saturday’s semis.


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