Curacao, Connecticut move on at Little League World Series
Willemstad, Curacao players and coaches tip their hats to the crowd after a pool play baseball game against Ramstein, Germany at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012. (AP / Matt Slocum)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, August 18, 2012 7:36PM EDT
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Kevin Oricoli finally has bragging rights over his big brother.
Not many 12-year-old boys can say they hit a two-run single at the Little League World Series.
Oricoli's two-out clutch hit keyed a three-run third inning, and Matt Kubel silenced Nebraska's bats to help Fairfield, Conn., avoid elimination Saturday at the Little League World Series with a 12-0 victory.
Oricoli is savoring the moment -- and not just because his team is one step closer to a Little League title.
His 14-year-old brother, Jack, played on the Fairfield American All-Star team last year that lost in the regional semifinals. Egged on by his manager, Bill Meury, Oricoli didn't waste an opportunity to talk smack following Saturday's win after a reporter asked who was getting the last laugh in the Oricoli family.
"Right now, right now, everyone except my brother. As you know, I made it farther than him," Oricoli said, smiling, as Meury laughed. "Now, he's jealous of me and now it's kind of awkward around him now because he's jealous."
The kids from Curacao were feeling pretty good, too, after staying in contention with a 14-2 victory over Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The Kearney, Neb., team and Germany will play Monday in a consolation game after both teams were eliminated.
Mexico and the adopted hometown favourites from Uganda were playing later Saturday, with New Jersey and Oregon facing off in the nightcap.
Connecticut gets a well-earned day off before returning to the diamond Monday. Kubel, a 13-year-old lefty whose favourite player is Yankees ace lefthander C.C. Sabathia, frustrated his foes with well-placed fastballs and about a half-dozen harmless bouncers to third.
Kubel, who struck out six over 4 2-3 innings, was a little anxious coming into the elimination game.
"Obviously, you get a little nervous looking at 10,000 people in the stands, but I just tried to focus and play my game," he said with an ice pack strapped to his left elbow.
Nebraska's strategy to swing early in the count to avoid falling behind to Kubel and his big curve didn't work.
After Connecticut's own slow start, the offence exploded for three runs in the third and six in the fourth. Both times, the bottom of Connecticut's order got the rallies going.
Ninth-place hitter Patrick Steed reached base on a walk in the third before coming home on Oricoli's single. Steed also doubled in a run in the fourth. Will Lucas added a homer and five RBIs.
Nebraska manager Brad Wegner hoped to get his team refocused to leave South Williamsport with a win in Monday's consolation game.
"They've had a great time, but they're hugely disappointed," Wegner said. "It's been an awesome experience."
One that Jack Oricoli was able to share with his little brother after cheering him on from the stands. He took Kevin's good-natured ribbing in stride.
"He was with me last year during regionals and I'm here with him in Williamsport," Jack said as the boys' father, Steve, smiled nearby. "And yeah, he's gotten farther than me and he's teasing me about it."
CURACAO 14, GERMANY 2
Christopher Koeiman had the big blow in an eight-run first inning for the winners from Willemstad, Curacao with a three-run homer to centre. Rallison Bentura added a two-run single, and Curacao also took advantage of four errors in the inning by the Europe region champions, comprised of children whose parents serve or work at the U.S. military installation in Germany.
Justin Wilson and Kyle Glenn each had RBI singles for Germany in the third.
The Ramstein team already has a date to attend a Yankees game in New York after the tournament, but manager Eric Vincent wants his players focusing on one last game together Monday, in front of family and friends who made the trip.
"They burnt up a lot of leave and vacations," Vincent said. "Some winter vacations are going to be lost, but it's all worth it to make it here."