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Little League

North Carolina backs into region semifinal

By ROVEN YAU
Published August 6, 2003

GULFPORT - North Carolina could have advanced to the semifinals with a win over West Virginia on Tuesday at the Southeast Region baseball tournament at Arnold S. White Stadium, but instead it had to wait for help.

It got it when Virginia beat South Carolina, and North Carolina backed into Thursday's next round.

North Carolina lost its final pool play game 2-1 to West Virginia on Tuesday and dropped to 1-2. South Carolina's record also fell to 1-2 after losing to Virginia 12-4.

North Carolina won the tiebreaker of total runs allowed per half inning played. North Carolina allowed seven runs over 18 innings; South Carolina allowed seven runs in Monday's 7-0 loss to North Carolina.

"We had it in our hands to win," North Carolina manager Wayne Long said. "We knew we had to win or lose by less than four runs. We didn't accomplish the front side of it."

With little more than pride to play for, West Virginia jumped on North Carolina starter Ethan Fowler for a run in each of the first two innings. Jake Riner drove in Jordan Reed in the first inning, and J.R. Mayles was walked by Fowler with the bases loaded in the second.

"They seemed to be a little more emotionally in it at the beginning at the game," Long said. "A 2-0 score usually doesn't beat us."

West Virginia starter Aaron Price kept North Carolina from getting anything started.

"We couldn't do anything with him," Long said. "He wasn't overpowering, but he moved the ball around well."

Price served up 10 groundball outs and got steady help from Reed, the shortstop, who made four put-outs, two in the sixth.

"We hit the ball to him (Reed) all day long," Long said. "He was flawless."

North Carolina scored in the fifth when Brennan Poston scrambled home on a wild pitch.

Florida, Virginia and Georgia also have advanced to the semifinals.

VIRGINIA 12, SOUTH CAROLINA 4: Chris Dizon and Patrick Fitzgerald hit home runs for Virginia. Dizon's two-run rocket to centerfield in the first opened the scoring, and Fitzgerald padded the lead in the fourth with a two-run homer to leftfield. Driss Bernoussi went the distance for the win with seven strikeouts.

FLORIDA UPDATE: Florida representative East Boynton Beach attended the Tampa Bay Devil Rays game against the Blue Jays. Making the trip was catcher Andrew Weaver, who was hit in the head and left Monday's game against Alabama. Florida manager Ken Emerson said Weaver was fine by bed time.

"I told them in two hours he would be back fighting with the other boys," Emerson said. "Just give him some coke and pizza and he'll be fine."

Florida completes its pool play at 7 tonight against Georgia. The winner faces North Carolina at 7 p.m. in Thursday's semifinal. The loser plays Virginia at 4.

[Last modified August 6, 2003, 01:33:00]


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