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For Moorpark, It's a Wild Ride to Little League World Series

August 19, 1996|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — They might be three-time losers from a town with a poor athletic pedigree, but a spirited group of 12-year-old baseball players have navigated through enough adversity to put Moorpark on the map.

Moorpark, representing the West Region, opens play in the Little League World Series today at 5 p.m. against East Region champion Cranston, R.I.

To get there, Moorpark (19-3) came through the losers' bracket of three tournaments, and had to win three games Friday at the Western Regional in San Bernardino.

A semifinal against Issaquah, Wash., Thursday night was called because of an 11 p.m. curfew after 13 scoreless innings. The teams resumed play Friday morning and Moorpark won, 2-1, on a 16th-inning home run by Blake Sharpe.

The players waited around in 100-degree temperatures until 5 p.m., then defeated Pearl City, Hawaii, 6-3 and 2-1 for the championship, the first by a team from Ventura County.

A good part of the team's motivation comes from the memory of Joel Burchfield, an 11-year-old Moorpark little-leaguer who drowned in February while trying to cross a swollen drainage canal during a rainstorm. The team has a large banner in the dugout honoring Burchfield.

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