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KUTNO, Poland — For the fifth straight year, the Arabian American Little League All-Stars are on their way to the Little League World Series.

And for at least one of the players who made the trip last year, expectations are high.

“This time will be better,” predicted Joel Reimer, 12, after he and his teammates earned their latest ticket to Williamsport, Pa., with an 8-3 victory over Ramstein in Friday’s title game of the 2004 Transatlantic Regional.

Reimer, a pitcher/shortstop, got the Saudis started with a two-run homer off Ramstein starter Augustin Ortiz. It was Reimer’s fifth home run of the tournament and jump-started Saudi’s seven-run first inning. Natt Timoney had the big blow, a bases-clearing triple.

Ortiz struck out two of the nine batters he faced in the first, but was taken out of the game after a 45-minute rain delay. He gave way to Chris Johnson, who gave up a single to the first batter he faced, but then struck out Reimer to retire the side.

Johnson went the rest of the way for Ramstein, striking out nine, while allowing one run and one hit.

Ramstein could have mailed it in after the day’s first rain delay, facing a 7-0 deficit before they even got to bat. But Johnson made sure they didn’t fold, ripping a double to left center against ace Josh Amado in his first at-bat. Ramstein failed to score, but coach Andre Murray thought his team made a point.

“These guys never gave up,” Murray said. “We’re very proud of them.”

The day’s second rain delay, a 90-minute pause in the third inning, had no effect on Johnson, but seemed to cause Amado to lose his control and his teammates to lose their concentration.

Two walks, a hit batter, two wild pitches and Saudi Arabia’s first error of the tournament led to three runs, two of them unearned, in the Ramstein fourth.

Mark Lumpa put the rally down, and closed out the game without further difficulty.

Amado and Lumpa each allowed one hit. The Saudis outscored their opponents 103-4 in the tournament. Saudi pitchers threw four no-hitters.

“We want to wish Saudi Arabia all the best in the Little League World Series,” Murray said as he led his team off the field. “We hope they win.”

London 8, Naples 3 (4, rain): London took home the third-place trophy with a victory over Naples.

The game, which was called after four innings because of rain, ended on a controversial call.

Home plate umpire Lee Batterman ruled that Naples runner Devon Mitchell missed home plate in the bottom of the fourth, negating two Naples runs and ending the contest.

“The catcher [Matt Braun] noticed it right away,” said Batterman, “and started yelling, ‘He missed the plate,’ and called for the ball.”

The call brought a few boos from the Naples’ fans.

“They were yelling at me because I was in blue,” Batterman said with a smile. “They tend to see the game with the hearts as well as their eyes.”

London took a 2-0 lead in the second on a two-run homer by Josh Halvorson. London added four runs in the third.


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