TAYLOR — The 38th annual Junior League Baseball World Series is down to six teams with world championship dreams. Two must-win games are set today at Heritage Park.
The week-long international tournament for the best teams of 13- and 14-year-old players from around the globe is down to five games. It’s do or die the rest of the way heading into Sunday’s world championship game that will be broadcast on ESPN2.
At the same time, JLWS officials are keeping an eye on the weather. Rain is forecast for Taylor and vicinity much of the day. A tarp is on World Series Field but rain could move games to Friday, which is kept open as a potential weather-related makeup day.
“If we have to move tournament games to Friday, we can,” said Dan Bzura of the JLWS staff. “We’re monitoring the weather. The games are still on track. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, the games will be moved to Friday.”
Here is the remaining schedule as it stands:
• 4 p.m. USA West regional champions from Manhattan Beach, Calif. (2-1) vs. USA Central champions from the Warren Park Youth Baseball League in Chicago, Ill (2-1).
• 7 p.m. Australia national champions from the Hills Little League in Sydney, New South Wales (2-1) vs. Mexico national champions from the Trevino Kelly League in Reynosa, Tamaulipas (2-1)
• Open Day
• 3 p.m. International Championship between the Asia-Pacific champions from the Shing-Ming Junior Little League of Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei (2-0) and the winner of the Australia-Mexico game
• 6 p.m. USA Championship between the USA Southwest champions from the Lufkin Little League of Lufkin, Texas (3-0) and the winner of the California-Illinois game
• Noon 2018 Junior League Baseball World Series Championship Game between the USA and International Champions
Heritage Park is at 12111 Pardee Road. Admission is $5 per carload per day and includes parking.
JLWS games leading into the world championship game are broadcast via streaming video with play by play at www.ustream.tv/channel/jlws. The world championship game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Crossover consolation games will be scheduled during open times on the schedule, usually between USA and International teams, but the results do not count in the tournament standings.
Yesterday, the JLWS host team, the Michigan District 5 champions from Brownstown Township, played the Canada national champions from the Diamond Academy Little League from Mirabel, Quebec. This morning, the Latin America champions from Santa Cruz, Aruba, played the USA Southeast champions from Elberton, Georgia; and the Europe/Africa regional champions from Emilia Romagna, Italy, were scheduled to play the USA East champions from the Elk-McKean Little League of Pennsylvania.
Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico 8, Emilia Romagna, Italy 3: The national champions of Mexico earned the right to play on Thursday with an 8-5 victory over the Europe/Africa champions from Italy. Trailing 5-4, Mexico scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to go up to stay. Erick Ortega had two doubles in two at bats, scored a run and had three RBI. Isaac Miranda went 2-for-2, walked and scored three runs. Francisco Moranta went 3-for-4 to lead Italy. Mexico (2-1) will play at 7 p.m. Thursday against the Australia. With its second loss, Italy (1-2) is eliminated from contention.
Chicago, Illinois 5, Elk-McKean LL, Pennsylvania 3: The USA Central champions from Chicago stay alive for the Junior League Baseball World Series championship with a 5-3 win over the East champs from Pennsylvania. Alex Vasquez pitched a complete game. Wyatt Attkisson and Jake Bleedin had two hits each and combined for three RBI. Chicago led from the first inning on. Warren Park Youth Baseball League (2-1) will play at 4 p.m. Thursday against USA West champion California (2-1). Ethan Wells went 2-for-3 and scored a run for East (1-2).
Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei 10, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 0: The defending champions of the Junior League Baseball World Series from Chinese Taipei remained undefeated with a 10-0 victory over the national champions of Australia. The Asia-Pacific champions scored in every inning but the second before the game was halted in the fifth inning because of the mercy rule. Tung-Han Lu went 4-for-4 with two doubles, scored twice and knocked in four runs. Shui-Hsun Li went 2-for-4 and scored twice. Kuan Lun Huang was 1-for-2 with a run and two RBI. Pitchers Shui-Hsun Li and Chim-Hua Ye combined on a two-hitter. Chinese Taipei (2-0) advances to the International championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday. Australia (2-1) plays Mexico (2-1) at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Lufkin, Texas 2, Manhattan Beach, California 0: The USA Southwest champions from Lufkin, Texas, advanced to the national championship game on Saturday night. Texas picked up a 2-0 win over the USA West champs from Manhattan Beach, California. Texas (3-0) will play the winner of Thursday’s game between California (2-1) and the USA Central champs from Chicago, Illinois (2-1). On Wednesday night, Texas rode the arm of pitcher Mark Requena who needed only 77 pitches to earn a three-hit shutout with five strikeouts. Lufkin had just five hits off California pitchers Robert Love and Ben Gneiser, but scored single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. In the fourth, Sam Flores doubled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a fielder’s choice. In the sixth, Cam Jackson scored from third on a single by Bebo Hinojosa.
History in the Making
The Junior League World Series is the “older brother” of the more famous Little League World Series, which is a tournament for 12-year-olds played in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In fact, six members of the current Texas team in the JLWS played in last year’s Little League World Series, finishing runner-up to the world champions from Japan. Teams from Chinese Taipei have won the last five JLWS.
The JLWS was founded by Greg Bzura in 1981 and has remained in Taylor ever since, growing from four American teams the first year to the current 12 teams that come to Taylor from as far away as Australia and the Asia-Pacific. Bzura has been director since the beginning and credits a team of hundreds of volunteers for making it happen every year.
For more information about the Junior League World Series, go to www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries. The World Series has an active Facebook page, www.facebook.com/juniorleagueworldseries. The World Series’ Instagram page is active during World Series week. Search jlws_taylor.