International, USA championships set for Friday in Junior League World Series in Taylor

TAYLOR, MICHIGAN – The final four is set in the Junior League Baseball World Series at Taylor’s Heritage Park.

At 5 p.m. Friday, the national champions of Mexico from San Nicolas de Los Garza, Nuevo Leon (4-0), will play the Latin America champions from Oranjestad, Aruba (3-1), for the International championship.

At 8 p.m., the USA Southeast champions from Rockledge, Florida (4-0) will play the USA Southwest champions from Corpus Christi, Texas (3-1) for the USA championship.

The winners of Friday’s games will play each other for the world championship at 11 a.m. Saturday. The World Series finale will be televised live on ESPN2.

A Florida team, the Palma Ceia/Bayshore Little League all-stars from Tampa, won the world title a year ago.

The Junior League World Series for teams of 13- and 14-year-old players from around the globe started in Taylor in 1981 and has been here ever since. Founder Greg Bzura has remained tournament director since the beginning.

Taylor’s World Series is the “older brother” of the storied Little League World Series for 12-year-olds held annually in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

In the Junior League World Series, the 10 teams compete in two pools and play games in a round-robin format for the first five days. The top two teams in the International and USA pools advance to Friday’s final four.

World Series Field is located at Heritage Park, 12111 Pardee Road. Admission is a modest $5 per carload per day, including parking.

Final Pool Standings

USA Pool
Florida 4-0
Texas 3-1
New York 1-3
Ohio 1-3
California 1-3

International Pool
Mexico 4-0
Aruba 3-1
Chinese Taipei 2-2
Italy 1-3
Canada 0-4

Friday’s Schedule
5 PM – International Championship Game: Mexico vs. Aruba
8 PM – USA Championship Game: Florida vs. Texas

Saturday’s Schedule
9 AM – Best Buy Home Run Derby
11 AM – World Championship Game: International Champ vs. USA Champ

To Follow the Games:

•Friday night’s games will be broadcast live on the Internet on streaming video with play by play at www.justin.tv/jlws2012.
•Statistics can be found at http://juniorlbws2012.bbstats.pointstreak.com.
•The World Series website is www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries. The site features the complete schedule, results and history of the series.
•The World Series Facebook page, which has more than 2,000 fans, is www.facebook.com/juniorleagueworldseries.

Thursday’s Game Recaps

On Thursday, the Junior all-stars from the Oil Belt Little League in Corpus Christi, Texas, became the final team to qualify to play on Friday with a 12-4 win over North Canton, Ohio. The Southwest champs never trailed, taking a 5-0 lead in the second when Joshua Baltierra stroked a three-run homer, his second of the World Series. Corpus Christi’s lead-off hitter went 2-for-4 and scored twice. Michael Hellums, Nathan Rabe and Mason Weber had two hits apiece, while Ricky Arevalo II knocked in two runs. Tyler Drabick went 3-for-4 for Ohio (1-3), while teammates Jarid Seemann and Zachary McHenry chipped in two hits each.

Earlier in the day, the Mexico national champions from San Nicolas de Los Garza, Nuevo Leon, warmed up for their International title game with a 13-1 victory over Lazio, Italy, the champions of the Europe/Middle East/Africa region. Mexico (4-0) led 6-0 after half an inning and 10-0 heading into the bottom of the second. The game was halted after five innings by the 10-run mercy rule. Mexico had 13 hits, with Eddie Villarreal, Rodrigo Medina, Jose Diaz and Jorge Leo getting two apiece. Villarreal (three runs, three RBI), Leo (four RBI) and Carlos Iruegas hit home runs. Pitchers Victor Guanajuato, Pedro Tovar and Irvin Valenzuela combined on a three-hitter. Italy finished the tournament 1-3.

Tainan City, Chinese Taipei evened its World Series record at 2-2 with a 10-0 victory over the Canadian national champions of Calgary, Alberta (0-4). The Asia-Pacific champs finished third in the International Pool behind Mexico and Aruba. Canada finished fifth. Chinese Taipei scored twice the first inning, four runs in the second and four more in the fifth, when the game was halted by the 10-run mercy rule. The winners had just five hits, but took advantage of errors, passed balls and misplays. Min Hsiu Tsai went 2-for-3, scored a run and had two RBI. Teammate Chieh Wei was 1-for-2, scored a run and knocked in two.

The nightcap was the closest game of the day. Rockledge, Florida (4-0) defeated Franklin Square, New York (1-3). The USA East champions were leading 10-6 after 5½ innings when the USA Southeast champs stormed back with six runs in the bottom of the sixth – all with two outs. Singles by Andrew Parrish and Trevor Payne, four walks, an infield error accounted for five of the runs. Payne scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Both teams had plenty of hits. Florida’s Mason Studstill hit two more home runs (he has four for the series), went 3-for-3, scored three runs and knocked in four runs. After playing stellar at shortstop, Studstill came in to pitch the last inning, struck out the first two batters he faced and got the last batter to ground out to first base. Parrish and Payne had two hits apiece in the game. For New York, Julio Lizardo Jr. had a home run, two hits and four RBI. Michael Catanese had two of New York’s nine hits.

From Junior League All-Stars to the Major League

A number of current or past professional baseball players played for teams in the Junior League World Series before making it as stars in the big leagues. They include Gary Sheffield, Eric Bedard, Brett Myers, brothers Jose and Javier Valentin, Erubiel Durazo, Chad Hermansen, Derek Bell, Delino DeShields, Shannon Withem, Adam Loewen and Chris Brock. Sheffield and Bell were teammates on the Belmont Heights junior team from Tampa, Florida, that won the Junior League world championship in 1982. Some future major leaguers may be on the rosters in 2012.

Other future stars to play in Taylor have included Chris Dingman and Steve Reinprecht, Junior League teammates in 1989 with Edmonton, Alberta, who went on to play in the National Hockey League. Matt Cassel (Northridge, California, 1995) is a quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. Mark “Bo” Pelini, a member of the 1981 champions from Boardman, Ohio, went on to play safety for Ohio State University’s football team and is now head football coach at the University of Nebraska.

Crossover Consolation Games

Three crossover consolation games are scheduled for Friday on the Taylor South Senior Field at Heritage Park: Canada vs. New York, 9 a.m.; Italy vs. Ohio, 11:30 a.m. and Chinese Taipei vs. California, 2 p.m.