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LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES

Conejo Valley Cruises Past Morganton, 9-2

August 23, 2004|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Any rust that developed on the Conejo Valley baseball team from Thousand Oaks quickly faded Sunday.

Conejo Valley scored six runs in the second inning against Morganton, N.C., and cruised to a 9-2 victory in front of an estimated 17,600 at the Little League World Series.

Conejo Valley (18-0) arrived in South Williamsport on Tuesday, five days after it won the West Region title in San Bernardino. The team then had to wait an extra two days to play its opener after Friday's game against Lincoln, R.I., was rained out.

"I think we were all excited to get out there and play," Conejo Valley Manager Tom Ginther said. "We wanted to come out and make a statement."

Danny Leon's two-run homer against Andrew Martin got the offense started in the second inning. It was Leon's fourth home run in the last three games.

"That bat has so much pop," Leon said.

After Sean McIntyre reached on an error and Jordan Brower followed with a single to right, pinch-runner Adam Justiniano scored on a one-out single by John Lister. A passed ball brought in the fourth run of the inning, and Lister then scored on a successful squeeze by Cody Thomson.

Conejo Valley's reserves then got into the act. Evan Ocello, the only 11-year-old on the team, lined a single to right and scored on a pinch-hit double by Derrick Francis for a 6-0 lead.

Conejo Valley added three runs in the fifth, including two on consecutive home runs by Tyler Karp and Lister. For Lister, it was his fourth consecutive game with a home run.

"California was a very disciplined hitting team," Morganton Manager Alan Lail said. "I thought a lot of the pitches that Andrew threw, other teams would have swung at."

Thomson gave up a single and a walk in the first inning, retired the side in order in the second and struck out the side in the third after walking the first two batters. Thomson then gave way to McIntyre in the fourth after throwing 55 pitches, leaving him in good shape to start Tuesday if needed.

McIntyre, Brower and Karp combined to limit Morganton to two runs and six hits over the final three innings, leaving each available to pitch today.

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