WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Three home runs, including one by pitcher Philip Johnston, powered Tucson past Norridge, Ill., 6-0, Tuesday and lifted the Arizona team into the semifinals of the Little League World Series.
In the opening game of the 40th World Series, Maracaibo, Venezuela, got a two-hitter and a two-run homer from Rafael Boscan to eliminate Madrid, Spain, 9-0.
Maracaibo's semifinal opponent Thursday will be the winner of today's game between Valleyfield, Quebec, and Tainan, Taiwan. Tucson, representing the West, will face the survivor of the South vs. East game between Sarasota, Fla., and Brunswick, Md.
Fifteen of the past 19 world champions have come from the Far East region, including 10 from Taiwan. The West region of the U.S. bracket has provided a finalist 10 times in the past 18 years.
Tucson's other two homers were by Edward DeBaca in the first with Scott Foster on base after a single, and Foster's three-run shot in the fourth. Johnston led off the fifth with a home run for Tucson's final run.
Johnston pitched all six innings, scattering six hits and giving up both runs in the sixth on Bob Raschillo's leadoff homer and Scott Mauer's game-ending bases-loaded double play. A tag play at second came after Steven Cook crossed the plate.
DeBaca's homer in the first came off starter Vince Santucci. Santucci switched places with catcher Brian Kriz after walking James Fraccaro and giving up a single to Chad Wilson to open the fourth. Kriz struck out the next two hitters before giving up Foster's opposite-field homer to right-center.
Johnston worked out of jams several times, leaving the bases loaded in the second and watching a runner get cut down at the plate to end the second. In the first game, Maracaibo's Boscan gave up singles to the first two hitters, then held the team of American boys from the Torrejon U.S. Air Base in Spain hitless, striking out 11 and walking five in the six-inning game.