Published August 20, 2012
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Danny Marzo was thinking about his manager's advice as he walked to the plate in the eighth inning: Concentrate on making a good swing, not hitting a home run.
He listened and went deep anyway — for one memorable game-ending shot.
The 12-year-old Marzo drove a breaking ball to the grassy hill beyond the right-field wall to help Petaluma, Calif., advance in the Little League World Series with a 5-4 victory over Parsippany, N.J., on Monday.
Manager Eric Smith "told me you can't go up there thinking walk-off home run," Marzo said. "You have to be thinking base hit. A walk-off comes off a good base-hit swing."
California's next game is a rematch against Fairfield, Conn., which advanced when Will Lucas tossed a no-hitter in a 2-0 victory over New Castle, Ind. Petaluma beat Fairfield 6-4 on Thursday on Day 1 of the World Series.
Marzo's giddy teammates started lining up around the plate to pat him on his helmet before he even reached second. Their frantic fans started chanting "Petaluma!"
The skipper's son, 13-year-old shortstop Hance Smith, knew the ball was headed out when he saw Marzo's swing.
"I didn't really (see the ball) leave the park," Hance Smith said with a smile. "I just came out to greet him."
Curacao also packed a punch Monday, scoring three times in the fifth inning to rally for a 4-3 victory over Canada in an elimination game. Mychellon Jansen's solo homer provided the go-ahead run.
Also, Mexico edged Taiwan 4-3, and Nebraska will return home with a win after scoring 15 runs in the second inning of a 17-1 victory over Ramstein, Germany in a consolation game. The 15 runs were a World Series record for one inning.
Canada, New Jersey, Taiwan and Indiana were eliminated.
Parsippany pushed across two runs in the sixth to tie it at 4. Emil Matti homered and David Ton had an RBI single.
California's Logan Douglas struck out four in 2 1-3 scoreless innings to set up Marzo's winning homer. Smith went 2 for 3 with a two-run single in the fourth.
Petaluma's victory sparked a celebration in Oakland's clubhouse before a night game against Minnesota. Third baseman Brandon Inge planted a whipped cream pie on teammate Jonny Gomes after the Athletics watched Marzo's big hit. Gomes, who's from Petaluma, proudly wore a Petaluma Little League T-shirt.
The California kids have a flair for dramatic victories, just like the A's, who have a major league-leading 20 wins in their final at-bat.
"I don't know if we're watching them or they're watching us," said Gomes, a longtime financial supporter of the local league. "It must be in the water up here."
Despite the loss, New Jersey fulfilled the goal the team set from the first day of practice: Get to South Williamsport.
"Like I told the kids, you came to visit," manager Mike Ruggiero said. "You're on the best field in the world and you played on it."
CURACAO 4, CANADA 3
Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, the winners from Willemstad had runners on second and third when Christopher Koeiman hit a fly ball to left with one out. Carter Kada-Wong fell backward to make the catch, but both runners had enough time to score.
Jansen then homered to give Curacao the lead for good against Vancouver, British Columbia.
Reliever Rallison Bentura pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings to get the win.
"I had the attitude that nobody could hit me," the 12-year-old right-hander said through an interpreter.
Cole Dalla-Zanna was the hard-luck loser for Canada, striking out nine.
Canada was eliminated but manager Vito Bordignon wants his players to be proud of their showing this year, which included a 13-9 win over formidable Mexico.
Next up for Canada: a little sightseeing in Pennsylvania.
"I just told them they had a great tournament and to keep their heads up," Bordignon said. "They represented Canada well."
NEBRASKA 17, GERMANY 1
Kearney earned Nebraska's first-ever win at the Little League World Series — and set a tournament record, too, with the 15-run second inning.
Thirteen-year-old Jared Wegner went 3 for 4 with a homer and five RBIs in the game delayed by rain and played under sometimes sloppy conditions.
Both teams had fun in the dugouts during the delay, where Nebraska second baseman Matt Masker, 13, showed off his dance moves to the hip-hop song "Teach Me How to Dougie" by Cali Swag District.
"They also wanted to go out on the tarp and do some sliding," manager Brad Wegner said. "All fun all the time."
MEXICO 4, TAIWAN 3
Mexico scored three runs in the third to take the lead, including two on a throwing error, and went on to the victory against Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Mexico loaded the bases after tying it at 2 on an error. In the next at-bat, Taiwan's catcher tried to run back a runner who had strayed off first, but the ball slipped from his hand on a fake throw and dribbled into right field. Two runs scored to give Mexico a 4-2 lead.
Chun-Hsiao Chen hit an RBI single in the fourth, but Mexico center fielder Fernando Benavides cut down the potential tying run at the plate.
Taiwan's Cheng-Feng Lee struck out 10 in a complete-game loss.
Felix Diaz struck out five in 4 1-3 innings for the win, and Ramon Ballina retired the side in order in the sixth for the save.
"I was a little nervous to come into the game, but I wanted to throw really well," the 13-year-old Ballina said through an interpreter. "I saw the team was winning and really up, I didn't want to disappoint them."
CONNECTICUT 4, INDIANA 0
One out away from a no-hitter, Lucas was surrounded by his infielders for an impromptu conference on the mound.
The 12-year-old Lucas cruised through Indiana's lineup by changing speeds all night, and third baseman Kevin Oricoli dared him to mix it up even more by throwing a knuckleball.
Not a chance, Lucas said.
"If it was hit, he'd probably run out ... and tackle me to the ground," said Lucas, an ice pack strapped to his potent right shoulder.
His teammates piled on top of him anyway in celebration after Lucas recorded his 13th strikeout to end the game.
Lucas also had a two-run single in the fifth, and Matt Kubel homered.
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this story.
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