New Castle wins World Series opener

Saturday, August 18, 2012

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) -- Mason Gillis drove in two runs with a check-swing double in a four-run fifth for New Castle, to break open a pitcher's duel in a 4-0 victory over Gresham, Ore., on Friday night in the Little League World Series.

Cory Murphy started the scoring spree with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored on two wild pitches. Gillis followed four batters later with the half-hearted swing that turned into a hit down the right-field line.

Until then, the last two teams to open play in the series played a tense game dominated from the mound.

Murphy's hustle paid off of the wild pitch to break the scoreless deadlock. The 13-year-old outfielder said he thought he was "going to be in trouble," when he started scampering on the pitch in the dirt.

"Coach (Brent Mann) said I better be in" on a pitch that gets away, Murphy said before a slight smile to reveal braces.

Indiana's Cayden Smekens struck out seven over three innings, and two relievers preserved the shutout with three innings of hitless relief. Oregon's Greg Mehlhaff also had seven strikeouts before being lifted after Indiana broke it open in the fifth.

"It's capital 'T' for teamwork," Mann said. "Staying positive, don't be selfish."

Oregon must now play an elimination game Saturday night against New Jersey. But manager Jason Trickel plans to tell his players to draw on the experience in the Northwest tournament, when they also lost their first game before taking the regional title to advance to South Williamsport.

Trickel said his hitters might have come down with a case of nerves. In regionals, playing Neil Diamond's classic "Sweet Caroline" seemed to loosen up his players.

"Apparently we need some 'Sweet Caroline' before the game that seemed to work for us. We might have to pull some strings to get them to play it," he said half-jokingly before looking over at a Little League official.