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KUTNO, Poland — Ramstein pitchers found it a little hard to find the strike zone on Wednesday. But they were able to right the ship in time to pull out a 12-9 victory over Naples in Little League Baseball’s Transatlantic Regional tournament.

Ramstein — behind the two-hit pitching of Dreshawn Murray — jumped out to a 10-1 lead before Murray gave way to Jacob Groth to start the fifth inning.

After retiring Devon Mitchell on a popup, things got interesting.

Groth walked three batters to load the bases. He turned the ball over to Connor Vitek, who hit the first batter he faced, then walked the next five batters.

Vitek yielded to Augustin Ortiz, who hit Jorgio Richardson — who has been hit five times this week — and then walked Tyler Jacobson to force in the eighth run of the inning.

All scored without the benefit of a base hit.

“We just couldn’t get a strike,” Ramstein coach Andre Murray said. “We had a bad inning, but we adjusted and adapted.”

Ramstein adapted by re-inserting star slugger/pitcher Chris Johnson in the bottom of the fifth.

Johnson responded by cracking a two-run homer, then shutting down Naples in the top of the sixth to seal the victory.

Johnson’s homer was his tournament-leading fifth. Saudi Arabia’s Joel Reimer hit his fourth earlier in the day.

Because of the head-to-head tiebreaker, both teams had already qualified for today’s semifinals before their game started.

Ramstein nailed down the second seed with its 8-6 victory over England on Tuesday. Naples advanced because it beat Spain 6-4 in extra innings last Thursday.

Spain’s only chance to deprive Naples of a semifinal berth evaporated when England beat Spain 13-4 in Wednesday’s first game.

In Thursday’s semis, Naples (2-4) will face Saudi Arabia (6-0), which beat them 20-0 in pool play, and Ramstein (5-1) has a rematch against England (4-2).

England 13, Spain 4

The London Area Little League all-stars got to Madrid ace Bucky Ribbeck for four runs in each of the first three innings en route to the nine-run victory.

First baseman Jordan Pasche clubbed his second home run in as many days for England. Teammate John Dileo belted a pair of doubles on a 3-for-4 day.

Spain fell to 2-4.

Saudi Arabia 12, Belgium 0 (4)

Saudi pitchers threw their second straight no-hitter — and their fourth in six games.

Josh Amado, who struck out the side in the first, and Charles Fitzmaurice, who pitched the final three innings, combined to record 11 of Belgium’s 12 outs by strikeout. Fitzmaurice did walk two batters in the third.

Reimer hit a home run in an eight-run first for Saudi.

Belgium finished its tournament at 1-5.


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