Little League: Ramstein, Saudi Arabia to play for title
August 13, 2004
KUTNO, Poland — Saudi Arabia and Ramstein moved into Friday’s title game of Little League Baseball’s Transatlantic Regional tournament with decisive victories in Thursday’s semifinals.
Saudi Arabia, the No. 1 seed after pool play, crushed Naples 22-0 and Ramstein defeated London 6-2.
For the second straight year, Saudi Arabia and Ramstein will play at 2 p.m. Friday for a berth in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Saudi Arabia is the four-time defending champ in the event.
Ramstein 6, London 2: “Now all we’ve got to do is slay the dragon,” Ramstein assistant Gus Ortiz said after pitcher Andrew Bossert went the distance against London in 80-degree sunshine that again graced play here.
Bossert, who had been scheduled to rest his injured foot another day, was pressed into service when a dispute over how many innings another Ramstein pitcher, Stephen Braden, had worked made him ineligible to throw Thursday.
Bossert responded by shutting down London, giving up six hits and striking out four.
“I wasn’t tired, but it’s hard pitching a whole game,” said Bossert, who read about this tournament as a new arrival in Ramstein last August and made playing here his goal.
“I’ve never pitched more than four innings before.”
Bossert used his curveball to keep the London hitters off balance. A two-run double to Matt Braun was the only threat London could muster.
Ramstein’s defense was solid, too.
“We played great defense,” coach Andre Murray said as he hugged his players after the game, “and our hitters came alive.”
Jacob Groth had three singles and two RBIs. Groth had the benefit of having runners on base each time because London chose to intentionally walk Chris Johnson, who leads the tournament with five home runs.
“There was no pressure,” Groth said of having to extract the price for walking Johnson. “It was fun.”
So determined were the London coaches not to let Johnson beat them that they intentionally walked him twice with the bases loaded.
Johnson said he wasn’t too upset about not getting the chance to hit.
“Kind of,” he said, “but it’s a sign of respect.”
Ramstein now has to take on Saudi Arabia, which beat the German champs 12-1 earlier in the week.
“Forget that 12-1 game,” Ramstein’s Dreshawn Murray said. “We’re going to Pennsylvania and eat at Red Lobster.”
Saudi Arabia 22, Italy 0: Naples — a 20-0 loser to Saudi Arabia earlier in the week — tried to make defensive changes to slow their opponents on Thursday.
Naples coaches moved acrobatic shortstop Devon Mitchell to left field, catcher Tyler Hall to third and turned short over to Tyler Jacobson.
“We know where the ball’s going to go,” Naples assistant coach Dwight Smalls said as the game got under way.
Getting to it was another matter.
Catcher Colt Hankamer ripped a shot into the left field corner to open the game and Saudi Arabia was on its way. Before the first inning was over, Saudi Arabia had sent 15 batters to the plate, scoring 10 runs.
Mark Lumpa hit a three-run homer in the frame and finished the game 4-for-4.
In the third inning, Saudi manager Tommy Bumstead began giving every batter the bunt sign to keep the scoring down. Saudi ARabia still scored nine runs in the inning, helped by five Naples errors.
The last 22 Saudi batters of the game were instructed to bunt.
Naples managed four singles in the game.
“I told our last three batters to get on their heels and swing for the fences,” Smalls said. “You never know, you might hit it.”
They’ll get another chance to pull the trigger at 11 a.m. Friday when they play for third place against London.