Ukraine player's first homer ousts Ramstein from tourney
July 26, 2003
VILSECK, Germany — Shortstop Maxim Kiyanchenko’s leadoff home run to left field in the ninth inning Friday capped an unexpected series of late inning events and propelled Ukraine to a 7-6 victory over Ramstein in Little League Baseball’s Big League regional tournament.
“It was his first home run ever,” Ukraine coach Oleg Boyko of said of the light-hitting shortstop’s homer that sent the Ukrainians to Saturday’s 10 a.m. final against South Africa.
Saturday’s winner of the tournament for 16-19-year-olds advances to the Big League World Series in Easley, S.C., Aug. 2-9.
Ramstein trailed 3-1 after four innings but scored five runs in the fifth, three on Michael Brubaker’s homer off Ukraine pitcher Maxym Lesnytsky.
Ramstein pitcher Dustin Linger, who was limited to two innings Friday so he could pitch Saturday if his team reached the title game, gave up a leadoff single to Volodymyr Chechotkin and two-out doubles to Vitaliy Rybalko and Artem Palamarchuk that cut Ramstein’s lead to 6-5. Ukraine tied the game in the top of the seventh, the final inning of regulation play, when Linger hit leadoff batter Denys Ivanets. Ivanets scored on Chechotkin’s single to right.
“I was surprised Dustin couldn’t hold them,” said Ramstein coach Ken Linger, the pitcher’s father, who had pitcher John Torris start the eighth.
Torris, who limited Ukraine to four hits in the first five innings, gave up one hit in the final two innings — Kiyanchenko’s game-winning homer.
The run stood up because of the game’s third unlikely circumstance: the late-inning dominance of winning pitcher Lesnytsky.
“He had back surgery just six weeks ago,” Ukraine manager Boyko said. “We didn’t know whether or not we’d have him for this tournament.”
Lysnytsky gave up nine hits, five of them in Ramstein’s five- run fifth. Boyko relieved him for the final two outs of the fifth, then brought him back in the sixth.
“He’s our best pitcher,” Boyko said. “There was no question. We had to put him back in.”
Lesnytsky responded by allowing a single in the sixth to Anthony Franz, the Ramstein shortstop’s fourth hit of the day, and then retiring Ramstein in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth. He struck out seven of the final nine batters he faced, mostly on a baffling breaking ball that got more effective in the late innings.
“We were overanxious,” Ramstein first baseman Rafael Rodriguez said of his team’s inability to lay off the breaking ball in the dirt.
“He got stronger as the game went on,” added Brubaker, whose home run came off one of the last fast balls Lesnytsky threw.
Ramstein lost in extra innings to both of this season’s finalists, but hopes to even the score the next time around.
“We have everyone coming back except Rodriguez and Brubaker,” manager Linger said. “We’ll be back.”