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RUSSIAN TEAM EARNS BERTH IN LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL WORLD SERIES
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (August 10, 2001) - For the first time in the 55-year history of the Little League Baseball World Series, a team from Russia has earned a berth in the annual late summer event.
The Khovrino Little League of Moscow defeated Tbilisi (Georgia) YMCA Little League 12-2 today in the championship game of the Europe Region Tournament at Ed Piszek Stadium in Kutno, Poland, site of the Little League European Leadership Training Center. Moscow got five strong innings from winning pitcher Nikolai Lobanov, who gave up only four runs over 16 innings in the tournament.
The Little League Baseball World Series for 11-12-year-olds will be played in Williamsport Aug. 17-26. Sixteen teams from around the world will take part as the series expands from its traditional eight-team field.
Russia, which received its first Little League Baseball charter in 1991, will be the first native European team in the Little League World Series. European teams have been playing in the World Series since 1960, but have been composed mostly of dependents of U.S. military, diplomatic or business personnel living overseas. As part of the expansion, two tournaments were played in Poland this year, one for native teams (Europe Region) and one for those not native to the country in which they reside (Transatlantic Region).
Six other berths have been determined for the Little League Baseball World Series: Guam Central Little League, Hagatna, Guam (Pacific Region); Tokyo Kitasuna Little League of Tokyo, Japan (Asia Region); Club Activo 20-30 Little League of Santiago de Veraguas, Panama (Latin America Region); Pariba Little League of Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles (Caribbean Region); Matamoros Little League of Matamoros, Mexico (Mexico Region): and Arabian-American Little League of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (Transatlatic Region). Eight U.S. teams will be determined in the next few days, and the Canadian champion will be determined on Saturday.
Two games will be televised on ABC rather than the single championship game as has been the case since 1963. The championship game of the Little League Baseball World Series can be seen live on ABC-TV at 6:30 p.m., on Sunday, Aug. 26 - the first prime-time telecast of the Series final. ABC will also televise the U.S. Championship Game on Saturday, August 25, at 4:30 p.m. The total televised World Series games will be 19, compared to 11 last year. In addition, ESPN2 will carry all eight of the U.S. Regional Championship finals in the Little League Baseball Division. The regional finals have been televised by ESPN2 every year since 1997.
Little League Baseball is the largest organized youth sports program in the world, with nearly 3 million participants in all 50 states and 104 other countries.