Poland, Belgium, Dazakhstan and Saudi Arabia Advance To Semifinal Round of Little League European Tournament
WILLIAMSPORT, PA – Poland, Belgium, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia advanced on Friday to the semifinal round of the Little League European Regional Tournament at Ed Piszek Stadium in Kutno, Poland at the site of the Little League Baseball European Leadership Training Center. A trip to Williamsport for the 54th Little League Baseball World Series is at stake for the tournament champion after Monday’s final game.
Twenty teams from 16 countries began pool play in Kutno on Aug. 5, 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, defeated a team from Sumy, Ukraine, 10-1, on Friday in the quarterfinal round. Poland 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, with a 4-1 record in European Region Tournament play, faces Waterloo, Belgium (3-2) on Saturday. Belgium, composed partly of players whose parents work at Supreme Headquarters Allied Personnel Europe (SHAPE), advanced with an 11-1 victory over Moscow, Russia (4-1).
In the other semifinal on Saturday, Almaty Little League of Almaty, Kazakhstan (5-0), plays Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Kazakhstan advanced with a 10-0 victory against Naples, Italy (3-2). Saudi Arabia (5-0), made up primarily of dependents of oil company workers, eliminated Minna, Nigeria, 15-0. Nigeria (3-2) is playing outside Africa for the first time, and is the first African team to compete in the European Regional Tournament.
Two of the teams in Saturday’s semifinals are composed of native Europeans: Poland and Kazakhstan. 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 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 Musashi Fuchu Little League of Tokyo, Japan, the Far East champion. The U.S. Regional Tournaments are all under way.
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). The Canada Regional Tournament in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, began Wednesday and ends Monday.
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.