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Yorba Hills Coach Has Nothing to Fret About : Little League: Yorba Linda team pounds 18 hits in 17-5 victory over Minnesota team in World Series opener.


WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Coach Bill Rooney has been worried for the last week or so about how his Yorba Hills Little League team has been playing.

Despite bringing a nine-game winning streak, which included a Western Regional title, into the 49th Little League World Series, Rooney was concerned about defense and hitting.

Toss out a miserable fourth inning Monday night and Rooney hasn't much more to fret about.

Yorba Hills (17-1) lashed 18 hits, all but two to right field, made only one error and turned in several key defensive gems in a 17-5 victory over Little Lakes West of Arden Hills, Minn., in front of an announced crowd of 10,000 at Lamade Stadium. The loss stopped a seven-game winning streak for Little Lakes West (12-2).

Yorba Hills faces Northwest 45 of Spring, Tex., at 5 tonight (PDT). Texas rallied for two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in its 11-10 victory over Toms River, N.J.

In other first-round games, Taipei (10-0) gave up a run for only the second time this year and defeated the Dominican Republic (11-3), 5-1. Saudi Arabia (9-0), made up of U.S.-born children whose parents work overseas, scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth in a 5-4 victory over Toronto (14-3).

"We haven't been playing our best games lately, but we've been doing enough to win," said Yorba Hills center fielder Robert Nesbitt.

Nesbitt forgot to wear his batting gloves to the plate in the top of the fifth, but it didn't seem to matter. He hit the game's only home run, a towering two-run shot to right-center field off losing pitcher Luke Stasson, part of a six-run fifth inning.

The team's only troubles came in the fourth with Yorba Hills leading, 8-0. Manager Roy Watson brought all five reserves into the game and that upset the chemistry. Little Lakes West capitalized, scoring five runs on four hits.

"I wanted to get all of our guys into the game and I might have made too many substitutions at once," Watson said. "They're good players and I have confidence in them, but I am to blame for what happened."

Yorba Hills jumped in front quickly. Pitcher David Nicholson beat out a bunt to start the game, and when Michael Forman followed with another one that stayed just fair along the first base line, the team was in business.

With one out, Nash Robertson, who had four runs batted in, singled to right field, driving in Nicholson. Nesbitt, one of four Yorba Hills players to have three hits, hit into a fielder's choice, forcing Forman at third. A.J. Shappi drove in Robertson with a single to right field. Brett Miller singled, driving in Nesbitt. Stasson walked Michael Watson and Brian Nolan, then hit Nicholson, the 10th player to bat in the inning. That drove in Miller.

Yorba Hills added a run on three hits in the second when Miller drove in Rooney, who had singled with a bouncer to right field.

The team scored two more times with two outs in the third inning.

Meanwhile, Nicholson, who had walked only two, was cruising with a no-hitter through three innings.

But he opened the fourth by surrendering two hits. Mike Grant of Little Lakes West scored after Stasson's hit rolled under the glove of substitute left fielder Blake Corbin to the wall. Nicholson walked Dan Stuart and then Brad Krebsbach singled in Stasson. Robertson made a diving grab of a roller by Chris Clifford to the hole at third, but his throw to second was too late to nail Krebsbach at second. Clearly upset, Nicholson walked Wes McFarland.

Rooney brought in his son, Patrick, to pitch and Brian Christianson promptly singled, driving in another run. Joe Jorgenson also drove in a run.

But Yorba Hills responded with six runs in the top of the fifth for a 14-5 lead.

Northwest 45 of Texas (21-2) blew a 9-5 lead, but scored the winning run against Toms River, N.J., (20-4) on a wild pitch in the final inning.

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