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For teams bounced early, opportunity still abounds

| Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006

By most measures, an early exit from an international tournament is a disappointing performance. At the Little League World Series, there is more baseball to watch or play for the lesser teams.

Just because a team has been eliminated doesn't mean they have to go home. They can take in the rest of the tournament from the stands or even take the field against a squad from another part of the world in a friendly matchup.

Staten Island, N.Y., eliminated with a 4-1 loss to Phoenix, might stick around to take a shot at the club from Moscow.

"I'd like to play (an international team)," Staten Island manager Nick Doscher said following Tuesday's loss to Phoenix, which must wait until the night's final game between Columbus, Ga., vs. Lemont, Ill., to see if it will advance.

Phoenix got a strong effort from pitcher Shaun Chase, who struck out 10, hit a solo home run and drove in a run with a single in the win.

Moscow, the Europe, Middle East and African champ, is a hot target for exhibition games.

"We've been hanging out with the Russian coach, he seems like a lot of fun," Doscher said.

Doscher said his kids expressed interest in an exhibition game, but he would have to make sure.

"It's tough for them to realize it's really over and they have to go back to their lives. It's something they'll remember for the rest of their lives," Doscher said.

The Midwest regional champions from Columbia, Mo., are slated to play the Russians on Wednesday morning.

"The kids just don't want to come home," parent Jeff Ausmus said.

By sticking around for as long as they can, the Columbia players will enjoy an added perk — missing the first three days of school, which starts Wednesday.

"The kids especially will bounce back real quick," said Ausmus, whose son Jeffrey's home run in the regional final helped the team advance to the tournament. "It will take the parents a while longer."

Moscow coach Andrey Tselykovski said his team — which faces a long trip home just to return to school on Sept. 1 — looks forward to taking on all comers.

"We'll play every day," he said. "We want to play as much as we can."

The Canadian champs, from Surrey, British Columbia, got a lift with a 2-1 win over Saipan, the Pacific champions, on Tuesday. Surrey finished 1-2 in pool play and the win will make the rest of the stay at the tournament a little brighter.

Braeden Smith started the winning rally in the bottom of the sixth with a single with two strikes.

"When I got up, every part of my body was shaking," Smith said. "This was my first and last World Series, so I didn't want us to go out 0-3."

"We're just looking to have fun (the rest of the week)," Canadian manager Joe Burns said.

The Canadian team will face the Southwest team from Lake Charles, La., Wednesday morning at Lamade Stadium, the site of the finale, for an exhibition game.

"It should be fun," Burns said. "We haven't played on Lamade yet this World Series."

Japan 7, Curacao 2

Go Matsumoto struck out 12 and hit a grand slam yesterday to help Kawaguchi City, Japan, eliminate Willemstad, Curacao -- last year's international champion.

Japan (3-0) led, 3-1, in the top of the sixth before a single and a pair of walks loaded the bases for Matsumoto. Matsumoto drove the ball to deep center. Rayshelon Carolina had chance to make the catch, but the ball hit off his glove before bouncing over the fence.

Curacao (1-2) lost last year's championship game in extra innings and won the 2004 World Series. Seven players returned from last year's team.

Canada 2, Saipan 1

Justin Atkinson singled with one out in the bottom of the sixth to drive home the winning run in Canada's come-from-behind win.

With Surrey, British Columbia, trailing, 1-0, entering the sixth, Smith singled and later scored on an error to tie the game. Atkinson then singled to right to score Brody Hawkins and win it for Canada (1-2).

Saipan (0-3), the Pacific Regional champion, scored its lone run in the third when Richard Dela Cruz was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Venezuela 1, Saudi Arabia 0 (8 innings)

Jose Martinez singled in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning for Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

Both teams still move on to the semifinals.

Jordy Freitez doubled to start the eighth for Venezuela (3-0). After a wild pitch moved Freitez to third, Saudi Arabia opted to walk the next two hitters to load the bases with no outs. Martinez followed with a single up the middle on the first pitch to drive home the winning run.

Andrew Holden took a no-hitter into the sixth for Saudi Arabia (2-1), before allowing a single to Manuel Barrios with one out. He finished with 16 strikeouts.

Lemont, Ill., 2, Columbus, Ga., 0

Josh Ferry pitched a one-hit shutout as Lemont, Ill., topped Columbus, Ga., to move on to the U.S. semifinals.

Ferry struck out 13 -- including the first five Columbus batters he faced -- in a must-win situation. His victory forced a three-way tie with three 2-1 teams in Pool A.

Lemont scored both its runs in the second inning. Jeff Worsech was hit by a pitch and advanced on a wild pitch before scoring on a throwing error.

Austin Mastela, who was taken to the hospital after being hit in the head by a pitch Sunday night, walked and later scored on an RBI single by Michael Hall to make the score 2-0.

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