EUROPEAN TOURNAMENT MOVES INTO QUARTERFINAL ROUND
WILLIAMSPORT, PA (August 10, 2000) Five native European teams have survived the largest field in the history of the Little League European Regional Tournament to reach the quarterfinals at Ed Piszek Stadium in Kutno, Poland, with a trip to Williamsport for the Little League Baseball World Series ultimately at stake.
Twenty teams from 16 countries began pool play in Kutno on Saturday, when the stadium was named for Mr. Piszek of Fort Washington, Pa., trustee of the Little League Foundation and founder of Mrs. Paul’s Kitchens. On the same day, a conventional-size field and stadium in Kutno at the Little League Baseball European Leadership Training Center was named for Baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial. Mr. Piszek and Mr. Musial have been recognized by the Polish government for their efforts in promoting international goodwill and Polish-American causes.
Kutno Little League, the Polish national champion, scored one of the biggest upsets of the tournament on Monday when it defeated International Germany, a team composed of U.S. military dependents from Spandalhem Air Base in Eifel, Germany, 4-3. Poland (3-1 in pool play) will play a team from Sumy, Ukraine (3-1), in today’s first quarterfinal game at 2 p.m. local time.
In the other quarterfinals today: A team from Moscow, Russia (4-0), squares off against Waterloo, Belgium (2-2); Almaty Little League of Almaty, Kazakhstan (4-0), plays a team from Naples, Italy (3-1); and Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (4-0), plays a team from Minna, Nigeria (3-1). Players for the team from Belgium include dependents of Americans working at Supreme Headquarters Allied Personnel Europe.
The Minna Royals Little League of Nigeria, composed completely of Nigerian children, is making the first trip outside the African continent by any African Little League team. Four other teams (Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland and Ukraine) are made up of children native to their countries. The other three teams are composed primarily of America children living abroad. No native European team has earned a trip to the Little League Baseball World Series since European leagues began entering the International Tournament in 1959.
The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, and the finals are on Monday. The winner advances to the Little League Baseball World Series, Aug. 20-26, at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in Williamsport. Scores and stories on all the regional tournaments of Little League are available at www.littleleague.org.
Two teams have already been determined for the eight-team Little League Baseball World Series field: Sierra Maestra Little League of Maracaibo, Venezuela, the Latin America Region champion, and Masashi Fuchu Little League of Tokyo, Japan, the Far East champion.
The U.S. Regional Tournaments are all under way. The Canada Regional Tournament in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, began Wednesday and ends Monday.
The championship games of the U.S. regional tournaments can be seen live on ESPN2. The schedule follows: U.S. South, Tuesday, 8 p.m.; U.S. Central, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.; U.S. East, Thursday, 8 p.m.; U.S. West, Thursday, 11 p.m. (All times Eastern).
Nine Little League World Series games will be televised live on ESPN or ESPN2, as well as a hitting contest and all-star game. The championship game on Aug. 26 will be televised live on ABC Wide World of Sports at 4:30 p.m.
About 15,000 games in six weeks are played nationwide in Little League Division tournaments leading up to the regional tournaments. Teams representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia advance to the four U.S. regional tournaments, where tournament play continues for a week or more. Thirty-six states and 21 countries have sent teams to the Little League World Series since the first Series was played in 1947. Little League Baseball is the largest organized youth sports program in the world, with nearly 3 million participants in all 50 states and 103 other countries.