World Series Final Four are set; USA, International championship games are Friday night

Junior League World Series Final Four are set for tonight in Taylor: It’s Chinese Taipei vs. Guatemala for the International championship; California vs. Texas for the USA championship

TAYLOR, MICHIGAN – The final four teams are set in the 30th annual Junior League World Series at Taylor’s Heritage Park.

The Asia-Pacific champions from Chinese Taipei will meet the Latin America champs from Guatemala for the International championship at 5 p.m. Friday.

The USA West champs from El Monte, California, will play the USA Southwest champs from Tyler, Texas, for the United States championship at 8 p.m.

The winners of those two games will go on to play for the world championship of the 13- and 14-year-old division of Little League Baseball at 4 p.m. Saturday. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Heritage Park is located at 12111 Pardee Road in Taylor. Admission is $5 per carload of spectators per day.

The all-stars from the Chung-Ching Junior Little League of Taipei City, Chinese Taipei (4-0), are the only undefeated team in the 10-team World Series. The all-stars from the Javier Little League in Guatemala City, Guatemala (3-1), finished runner-up in the International Pool.

This is the first time either country has played in the Junior League World Series for the best teams of 13- and 14-year-olds, which was founded in Taylor 30 years ago and has been played there since. Taipei, then known as Taiwan in Little League circles, played 24 times for the Little League championship for 12-year-olds in Williamsport, Pennsylvania – and won it a record 17 times. By contrast, this is the first world series anywhere for a team from Guatemala.

While this is the first time in Taylor for the all-stars from the El Monte Little League and the Rose Capital East League from Tyler, teams from California and Texas are among the most frequent visitors to the Junior League World Series.

Teams from California have represented the West in Taylor an average of every other year. This is the 15th appearance by a California team in the 30-year-old Junior League World Series. West region champions have won the JLWS world championship 10 times – more than any other region in the world. California teams have won it four times: Rowland Heights (1987), Thousand Oaks (1994), Mission Viejo (1998) and LaMirada (2003). Scottsdale, Arizona – another West region champion – won the World Series in 2009.

This is the 13th time a team from Texas is playing in the JLWS. Teams from Texas have won the world championship three times: Spring in 1991 and 1996 and El Campo in 2006.

The Junior League World Series is indeed the “big brother” of the storied Little League World Series for 12-year-olds played annually in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In Taylor, the 10 teams are divided into two pools: International and USA. The five teams in each pool play each other in a round-robin format with the top two teams playing again for the pool championship.

On opening day, August 15, Chinese Taipei gave Guatemala its only defeat, 7-2.

On August 18, California defeated Texas, 5-1. California’s only loss came August 16 against Jeffersonville, Indiana, 11-3. Texas defeated the same Indiana team, 7-0, on opening day.

Friday’s Games
International Championship: Chinese Taipei vs. Guatemala, 5 p.m.
United States Championship: California vs. Texas, 8 p.m.

Saturday’s Schedule
Home Run Derby, 12:15 p.m.
World Championship Game: International Champion vs. USA Champion, 4 p.m.

Final Pool Play Standings
USA Pool

California 3-1
Texas 3-1
Indiana    2-2
Virginia 1-3
New Jersey 1-3

International Pool
Chinese Taipei 4-0
Guatemala 3-1
Mexico 2-2
Ukraine 1-3
Canada 0-4

Thursday Highlights

Chinese Taipei led the Mexican national champions from Guaymas, Sonora,  from start to finish, although Mexico kept it closer than some expected and scored more runs in one game (five) than Taipei had allowed in its three previous games combined (two). In the first inning, Chun Yen doubled home Hsiu Chuan Hsieh and then Ting Chou Chen doubled in Yen and Kai Hsiang Yang. Mexico’s Luis Meza singled home Luis Cadena and Dario Macias in the second to make it 3-2. Taipei added solo runs in the third, fifth and sixth to make it 6-2. Cheng Yu Tsai homered in the third. Chen scored on a Kai Hsiang Yang groundout in the fifth and Sheng Hsuan Huang scored on a squeeze bunt by Hsieh in the sixth. Mexico cut the gap to one in the bottom of the fifth. Dario Macias doubled home Jose Suchilt and Gaston Villasenor and the other run scored on an error. But Taipei put it away with two more runs in the top of the seventh. Lin, Yen and Huang combined for six of their team’s eight hits. Macias had two hits for Mexico, which finished pool play 2-2.

Mexico’s loss meant that Guatemala was in the International championship game automatically, but the Latin America champions still pulled out a come-from-behind win over Coquitlam, British Columbia. The Canadian champs took a 4-0 lead in the fourth when Jonathan Keltie doubled home Brandon Becking and Javeed Kankashi smashed a three-run homer. Guatemala came back with two in the fifth and went ahead for good in the sixth. Carlos Estevez singled home Pablo Chacoj with what proved to be the winning run. Chacoj and Julio Alvarado had two hits apiece for the winner. Austin MacDonald had two hits for Canada, which finished pool play 0-4.

In the wildest game of the night, El Monte, California, overcame an 8-3 deficit to defeat Mechanicsville, Virginia, 12-9, and qualify for the USA finals. California took a 3-0 lead in the second inning when Gabriel Soto doubled home Fernando Rosales and Cesar Torres and then Soto scored on a groundout. Virginia stormed back, sending 12 batters to the plate in the third and scoring six runs. Matthew Corley’s two-run homer also scored Patrick Hollar II. Haiden Lamb singled home Adam Boyle and Brett Langhorne. Joshua Lam doubled home Lamb. And Jonathan Shepperd and scored on an error. By the end of the third, it was 8-3. Andrew Shepperd singled and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice. And Jonathan Shepperd scored on a bases-loaded walk to Holler. California came back with three runs in each of the fifth and sixth to take a 9-8 lead. In the fifth, Nicholas Brown doubled home Ricardo Perez and Torres doubled in Antonio Ruiz and Brown. In the sixth, Armando Verdugo walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch, Gabriel Juarez hit a solo home run and Ruiz singled and scored on a double by Brown. Virginia tied the score in the bottom of the sixth when Lamb singled home Taylor Campbell. But in the top of the seventh, California took advantage of walks, hit batsmen and two errors to score three times without a hit. Johnny Alvarez scored the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice.

The nightcap between Tyler, Texas, and Freehold Township, New Jersey, came down to the final pitch. The Southwest champs prevailed, 4-3, and earned a shot at the USA championship. Texas scored three times in the first inning, Mason Mallard singled, Ryan Cheatham was hit by a pitch, both advanced on a wild pitch and both scored on a single by Jake Parker. Parker advanced to third on a single by Patrick Day and scored on a sacrifice fly by Michael Caruso. New Jersey came back with a run in the bottom of the second when Joseph Lodispoto walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a single by Robert Roth before scoring on a squeeze bunt by Gianni Magliaro. Texas scored what would amount to the winning run in the fourth. Day singled, went to second on an error, stole third and scored on a single by Christopher Davis. New Jersey pecked away with a run in the fifth and another in the sixth. Magliaro’s bases-loaded single scored Drew Intile in the fifth and Anthony Yaccarine belted a lead-off home run in the sixth. In their last chance in the bottom of the seventh, the New Jersey all-stars waited out pitcher Day for two walks, but the youngster bore down and struck out the other three batters he faced and secured the victory for Texas. New Jersey stranded 13 runners in the game and finished pool play with a 1-3 record.

From Taylor to the Pros
A number of Junior League World Series players have gone on to become even more famous. At least 11 players went on to play Major League baseball: Gary Sheffield, Brett Myers, Erik Bedard, Derek Bell, Jose and Javier Valentin, Erubial Durazo, Delino DeShields. Chad Hermanson, Shannon Withem and Adam Loewen. Others are University of Nebraska football Coach Bo Pelini, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel and National Hockey League players Chris Dingman and Steve Reinprecht.

More Information

The Junior League World Series website features up-to-date news throughout the World Series and a profile and rosters for each team. For information, visit www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries. The World Series also offers regular updates via the social networking site Facebook. Search for JLWS – Junior League World Series – Taylor Michigan.