Great baseball games all day long at World Series in Taylor

TAYLOR, MICHIGAN – If you’re a fan of games in which either team can win, you’ll love the 26th annual Junior League World Series taking place at Taylor’s Heritage Park.

It’s anybody’s guess who will win from day to day, especially in the USA Pool, in which each of the five regional champions has at least one win and at least one loss.

Four more games are scheduled Wednesday between the best teams of 13- and 14-year-old baseball players from around the world:

11 a.m. Nepean, Ontario, Canada (1-2) vs. Ramstein AFB, Germany (1-1)
2 p.m. Jakarta, Indonesia (0-2) vs. Maracaibo, Venezuela (2-0)
5 p.m. El Campo, Texas (1-1) vs. South Bend, Indiana (1-1)
8 p.m. Alexandria, Virginia (1-2) vs. Pearl City, Hawaii (1-1)
Upper Deerfield, New Jersey (2-1) and Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico (2-1) have the day off and resume action Thursday.

Four more games were played Tuesday:

Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, turned a four-run first inning into an important 6-3 win over Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany. The Mexican national champions (2-1) had only three hits, but one was a two-run double by Judas Gallardo. Winning pitcher Jesus Hernandez gave up two runs in five innings. Stephen Braden and Christopher Johnson were both 3-for-4 for Germany (1-1), the champions of the Europe/Middle East/Africa region.

Kahana Neal’s three-run double in the top of the seventh inning gave Pearl City, Hawaii, a come-from-behind 5-4 win over Upper Deerfield, New Jersey. Robert Brown had three hits for the USA West champs (1-1). Winning pitcher Ian Sato was 2-for-3 and scored twice. Barry Larro went 3-for-3, homered and knocked in three runs for the USA East champs (2-1).

Maracaibo, Venezuela (2-0), is the only unbeaten team in the World Series after defeating Nepean, Ontario, Canada, 6-1. The Latin America champions scored three in the first and three more in the third to support Dickson Paz’s six-hitter. Douglas Cueto had two hits and Paz knocked in two runs for Venezuela. The Canadian national champions got two hits each from Phillippe Brunet and Tyler Evans, but fell to 1-2 in the tournament.

South Bend, Indiana became the fifth team in the USA Pool to win at least one game by defeating Alexandria, Virginia, 7-4. Both teams had six hits, but the USA Central champions (1-1) got them when they needed them, scoring four times in the fourth, once in the fifth and two more runs in the sixth. Justin Williams scored two of the runs and Jimmy Szucs knocked in two as Mike Cass – one of four Indiana pitchers – earned the victory. Graham Henry had two hits for the USA South champs (1-2), while Andrew Stable knocked in two. Virginia had its chances, but left nine runners on base.

Other Highlights: Several teams will visit Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, for tours on Wednesday… The Taylor Senior fast-pitch softball team was honored prior to the start of the 8 p.m. game Tuesday for winning the Michigan State Tournament at the Senior Division. The team consists of 12 young Taylor residents between the ages of 13 and 16 from the Taylor Northwest and Taylor South leagues. Jennifer Hall, the first girl to play in the World Series (1987), managed the Taylor team this year.

Pool Play Standings
USA Pool

Upper Deerfield, New Jersey 2-1
El Campo, Texas   1-1
Pearl City, Hawaii   1-1
South Bend, Indiana  1-1
Alexandria, Virginia   1-2

International Pool
Maracaibo, Venezuela  2-0
Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico 2-1
Ramstein AFB, Germany  1-1
Nepean, Ontario, Canada  1-2
Jakarta, Indonesia   0-2

How it works

The Taylor World Series is considered the “big brother” of the famous Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Boys play for the love of the sport and to become world champions. Heritage Park is located at 12111 Pardee Road between Goddard and Northline roads.

Teams compete in round-robin format in either the International or USA pool. Four games are scheduled Sunday through Thursday. The top two teams in each pool play for the International championship at 5 p.m. Friday and the USA championship at 8 p.m.

The International and USA champions play for the world championship at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Admission is only $4 per day per carload or $7 for a pass for the entire week. Both fees include parking. Heritage Park is located at 12111 Pardee Road, between Goddard and Northline roads, one mile east of Telegraph Road.

All four of Tuesday’s games are scheduled to be broadcast over the Internet at www.cityoftaylor.com/listen. Dan Neil will broadcast the 11 a.m. game, followed by Kirkland Crawford at 2 p.m., Andrew Law at 5 p.m. and Herb Mentzer at 5 p.m.

The world championship game on Saturday will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis by ESPN.

Taylor has hosted the Junior League World Series since its inception in 1981. Greg Bzura founded the event and has been director ever since.

Stars of Tomorrow

A number of current and former Major League players once competed in the Junior League World Series. They include Gary Sheffield, Eric Bedard, Brett Myers, brothers Jose and Javier Valentin, Erubiel Durazo, Chad Hermansen, Derek Bell, Delino DeShields and Shannon Withem.

Sheffield and Bell were teammates on the Belmont Heights team from Tampa, Florida, that won the Junior League world championship in 1982.

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. 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 defensive coordinator at Louisiana State University.

They’re Already Champions

Each of the USA champions had to beat other all-star teams in their own state, then win a state championship and then defeat other state champions in regional tournaments in various sections of the country.

The teams from Canada and Mexico emerged as national champions after defeating the best teams in other provinces or states. Canada plays in the World Series every year. Mexico – celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first appearance in Taylor – receives an automatic berth every other year, alternating with Puerto Rico.

The teams from Indonesia, Germany and Venezuela beat national champions from other countries to make it to Taylor.

To date, teams have come from 27 different states. Indonesia debuted this year and became the 16th country to play in the World Series.

Umpires in the series also meet the challenging qualifications to participate in the series. An umpire cannot participate until such time as he or she has previously umpired in state and regional championships. Prior to this year, umpires had come to Taylor from 31 states and 10 other countries.

Those with Internet access can also find the complete schedule, results, team profiles, history and photos of the World Series on www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries.