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Down, but not out

Federal falls at World Series, faces elimination in next game

Federal falls at World Series, faces elimination in next game

August 19, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

View the Federal vs Mill Creek slideshow.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The Federal Little League 11-12 All-Stars are no strangers to offensive fireworks. They're just not used to being on the wrong end of them.

The Mid-Atlantic champions had hopes of clinching a United States semifinal berth at the Little League World Series on Monday afternoon. But instead, Federal ran into a buzzsaw as Northwest champion Mill Creek, Wash., hit four home runs and used a five-run first inning and a seven-run fifth to roll to a 15-5 victory in five innings, handing Federal its first loss in 16 games this summer.

"Sometimes, good teams beat good teams," Federal manager Bill Abeles said.

The loss leaves Federal in a tough spot in its bid for a semifinal berth entering tonight's game against Lake Charles, La., at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

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Louisiana is 2-0, while Federal and Washington each are 1-1 in Pool A. If Washington loses to Jeffersonville, Ind. (0-2) today at 2 p.m. -- in a game Washington is favored to win -- Federal can earn a semifinal berth with a victory. But if Washington wins, Federal would have to win by a large margin to overcome its deficit in the tiebreaker category, which is runs allowed.

Louisiana has allowed just one run in two games, while Washington has allowed 10 and Federal 17.

"We may see an even better team tomorrow," Abeles said. "We understand it's going to be a challenge, but we're not out of this."

Washington went right to work in the top of the first inning against Federal pitcher Zane Schreiber -- who was solid in Maryland state title and Mid-Atlantic Regional semifinal outings.

With one out, Derrick Mahlum hit a hard shot to first that Andrew Yacyk managed to stop with a dive, but he had no play as Mahlum reached base. Jason Todd followed with a double down the left-field line before Joakim Soderqvist lined a two-run single to right.

After Alex Jondal walked, Alec Kisena sent a 1-2 fastball over the wall in right for a three-run home run and a 5-0 lead.

"Zane's been our No. 2 pitcher and they hit him hard early and often," Abeles said. "Our goal in the top of the inning, knowing they like to jump on their opponents, was to put a goose-egg on the board. It didn't happen."

But Federal showed its fighting spirit, answering with three runs in the bottom half -- aided by a pair of errors by Kisena at first. Josh Barron's two-run bloop single to right was the key hit.

"Even when they got down five runs, I'm preaching to them that we have 18 outs," Abeles said. "We put three runs on the board, and we're going to keep battling."

Washington made it 7-3 in the top of the second, scoring both runs on a throwing error. With Mahlum at third and Todd at first after a bloop single, Todd intentionally allowed himself to get caught in a rundown between first and second.

As the ball came to first baseman Andrew Yacyk, Mahlum broke for home. Yacyk quickly threw home, but the throw got past catcher Dalton Jobe as Mahlum slid in, and Todd raced around the bases and also scored on the play.

Federal got a run back in the bottom half when Mark Grunberg walked, took second on Ryan Byard's single, took third on Yacyk's walk and scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 7-4.

Washington made it 8-4 in the third when Casey Dawes singled to center off Federal reliever Adam Blenckstone and scored on Todd's double to right.

Yacyk's solo homer down the right-field line and into the bushes past the wall made the score 8-5 in the fourth and drew a huge roar from the sizable group of Federal supporters sitting down the first-base line.

But Washington got its bats going one more time to put the game out of reach, scoring six of its seven runs in the frame on home runs.

Todd's three-run homer off Ryan Kinter made it 11-5. Kisena's second home run of the game came off Barron and made it 14-5. Alek Baumgartner followed with a solo shot for the final run.

"They did exactly what they did to get here, and that's take my called pitches and hit them to the railroad tracks," Abeles said.

Facing a must-win situation, Abeles said he could turn to Yacyk to pitch tonight. Yacyk pitched 4 2/3 innings and struck out 10 on Saturday against Indiana.

"We may throw Andrew a little bit and see how far he can go, but I'm not going to risk a young arm when he hasn't had a lot of rest at the Little League World Series," Abeles said. "(Playing at) Lamade under the lights, I don't care if we lose 15-0, it's a great experience."




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