WEST GETS BEST OF NEW ENGLAND
The players from the Oceanside American Little League All-Star team know how to fill in for each other when needed.
In the California state tournament, Taylor DeMille and a few other teammates were not present. The team, however, swept through the competition.
In today’s Little League World Series opener between Oceanside and Lincoln, Rhode Island (New England Region champion), DeMille was present, but had to sit out with a bruised right thumb. The hurler would have been today’s starter if it weren’t for the injury.
Thomas Eukovich replaced DeMille and tossed five strong innings of one-hit baseball. He struck out six, including five in the first two innings, as Oceanside went on to win, 8-0, in front of 4,200 at Volunteer Stadium.
“Opening up, I felt really strong,” Eukovich said. “I just threw it where they couldn’t hit it. I just threw what I always throw and it worked today.”
Oceanside manager Daryl Wasano was impressed with his pitcher’s performance.
“All year he has been just tremendous,” he said. “I don’t have to say a whole lot. He’s phenomenal.”
And it wasn’t just the pitching that got Oceanside through the Series opener. Matthew Cerda led a 12-hit attack by going 3-for-3, including an RBI single in the fourth inning. Bobby Shore, the pinch-hitter who hit right before Cerda in the fourth, also knocked in a run with a single to left-center.
“It was difficult coming to bat as a pinch hitter,” Shore said. “I just had to go up there and hit. Luckily I found a hole.”
In the second, Oceanside pushed across two runs before stranding the bases loaded. Cerda scored on a passed ball, and three batters later Chris Scheunemann scored on Johnny Jimenez’s single up the middle.
Oceanside tacked on four more runs in the sixth, capped off by a Eukovich double that scored two.
“They got the jump on us with a 2-0 lead and it was like a dagger in the heart,” said Lincoln coach Randy Hien. “The spirit of the team is still excellent and I feel good that we can come back and win tomorrow."
Lincoln Rhode Island next faces Brownsburg, Indiana Saturday at Volunteer Stadium, while Oceanside waits until Sunday to square off against Lake Charles, Louisiana of the Gulf States region.