West bests Maryland
Thousand Oaks defeats Preston, Md. 3-1 in final US semifinal
Going into Thursday evening’s United States semifinal, the South
Caroline Little League from Preston, Md. was hitting just .131 as
a team. That’s eight hits in 61 at-bats. Their opponents in the
semifinal match up, the Conejo Valley Little League from Thousand
Oaks, Calif. reached the semifinal on the strength of, among other
things, a booming offense. The West Regional Champions had 26 hits
in 72 at bats, good for a .361 team average, and it was clear that
the statistics made Thousand Oaks an overwhelming favorite.
This time around, the numbers lied.
To a degree, Maryland exceeded expectations. The Preston All-Stars
went hit-for-hit with the high powered offense of Thousand Oaks
for five innings, racking up seven base knocks, just one shy of
his team’s three-game total leading up to Thursday’s game.
Unfortunately for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Champions, the game
lasted six innings. With the help of a John Lister solo shot to
center in the top of the sixth inning, Thousand Oaks (4-0) bested
Maryland (1-3) 3-1 in front of a 2004 Little League World Series
high-crowd of 19,185 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
“We were flat,” Lister said. “We were not swinging the bats well.
I think we were too cocky going into this game, and it showed.”
Maryland manager Curtis Payne knew coming into the game that it
was going to be a battle.
“We knew that this was one of the toughest games we were going to
have,” he said. “We played as well as we could, we got a lot of
hits, their pitcher just spread them out.
“I am really proud of my guys,” he added.
Sean McIntyre was deadly both on the hill and at the dish. The
lefty scattered seven hits, allowing only one-run in his five
innings of work, and was 3-for-3 with two RBI at the plate.
“I felt really confident at the plate, I felt ready to hit,” he
said. “I guess I pitched OK. I was getting the ball up a lot and
that is why they got so many hits off of me. I could have pitched
West manager Tom Ginther was not as solemn about his starter’s
“Sean did a heck of a job today,” he said. “He got three hits and
controlled the game on the mound. He came right out and boom, went
Oaks made its mark on the scoreboard first. Timmy Ginther reached
first with one out by laying a bunt down the third base line, and
then scored from first when McIntyre lined a double to right.
The usually potent Thousand Oaks offense stalled for the majority
of the game, only able to score one run through the first four
innings. Maryland took advantage of Thousand Oaks’ lack of
offensive prowess and tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the
Ben LaNeve snuck a line drive inches inside the left field foul
line with one out to advance to second with a double. LaNeve was
moved over to third on a Ryan Hood groundout, and then scored on
an infield single by Thomas Howe. Howe’s grounder to first would
have been the third out of the inning, but the speedy outfielder
beat Thousand Oaks first baseman Danny Leon back to the bag to
allow LaNeve to score.
“That was a turning point for us,” Tom Ginther said. “We woke up
The score did not remain deadlocked for long. In Thousand Oaks’
next turn at the plate, the West Champions put together a two-out
rally to go up 2-1. After the first two batters of the inning were
retired on two pitches apiece, Leon sent a sky-high fly ball to
shallow left field. Maryland third baseman Tyler Garvey misjudged
the ball, allowing Leon to reach second. McIntyre again helped his
own cause, sending a single to left that plated Leon.
Lister was the first Thousand Oaks hitter in the top of the sixth.
The catcher, who had already reached base twice on the day,
demolished the Robbie Payne offering to center. Centerfielder
Davonta DeShields didn’t even move as the line drive sailed over
his head. The Lister blast gave Thousand Oaks a 3-1 advantage
which the deep West pitching staff would be able to maintain.
“I never go up to the plate trying to hit a homerun,” Lister said.
“I just try to get base hits. Luckily I got a pitch that I could
drive and it went out.”
With a two-run lead, Tom Ginther opted to bring in Cody Thompson
to finish off Maryland. Thompson got the job done, striking out
two, including Nikolaus Nowottnick to end it.
With the victory, Thousand Oaks advances to the highly anticipated
showdown between also undefeated Richmond, Texas in the United
States Championship on Saturday.”
for box scores