© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 26, 2001
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Brandon Brewer kept the emphasis on "little" in the Little League.
Brewer, at 4 feet 10, 81 pounds, hit a three-run homer and Apopka, defeated the Rolando Paulino team from the Bronx, N.Y., 8-2 in the U.S. championship.
Apopka faces the winner of the Netherlands Antilles vs. Japan game in today's championship. The International final was not complete at press time.
Brewer took his first pitch in the third inning and sent it just over the centerfield wall for his second home run of the tournament, bringing home Tyler Scanlon and Stuart Tapley for a 3-1 lead. The outfield wall at Howard J. Lamade Stadium is 205 feet.
"I just try to hit the ball hard every time I'm up to bat. I guess I hit that one pretty good," Brewer said.
Scanlon followed up with another three-run shot, his first hit of the tournament, in the fourth inning, a 240-foot fly over the leftfield wall that scored Ryan Markell and Jeff Lovejoy and put Florida up 6-1.
"I hadn't been hitting well for the entire series," Scanlon said. "It really feels good. I just about had a heart attack."
Tapley (2-1) got the win, throwing 12 strikeouts and avenging an earlier loss to the Bronx. Luilli Vinas (1-1) took the loss.
In their previous meeting, Tapley came out nervous, loading the bases and walking in a run before giving up a grand slam in the first inning. After that, he allowed only one hit.
"I think he's thrown the ball pretty consistently for us ever since we started this run," said Apopka coach Ken Tapley, Stuart's father.
A week ago, Bronx beat Apopka 5-0 in pool play as Danny Almonte threw a perfect game. But Almonte couldn't pitch Saturday -- Little League rules prohibit pitchers from throwing consecutive games in the tournament -- and the Bronx was vulnerable.
Tapley hit a third-inning double to right that bounced high off the wall. Will Blankenship, who has four homers in the tournament, also hit a ball to the warning track in the third.
"When their big kid isn't on the mound, it becomes a completely different ball game," Ken Tapley said.
Vinas gave up five hits and two walks before being relieved by Rolando Torres in the fifth inning.
"I turned to Vinas because he has a good, hard fastball and a good curveball, but he didn't have it," Bronx manager Alberto Gonzalez said. "He had it for two innings."
Bronx closed within 8-2 in the fifth but Tapley struck out three, two with the bases loaded, to end the inning, then followed with three more strikeouts in the sixth.
Atsushi Mochizuki hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to give Tokyo Kitasuna a 2-1 victory over Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.
Facing a 2-0 count, Mochizuki hit the ball 240 feet to center. Yousuki Nomura reached base earlier on a swinging bunt. Nomura won in relief, retiring all three batters he faced in the sixth.
TODAY ON TV: Apopka vs. International winner, 6:30, Ch. 28.