The team from Auburn experienced a rough first day at the Little League World Series, not only dropping its opener, but losing the first manager’s replay challenge in the history of the event.
Nick Nardone pitched 52/3 innings to lead Fairfield, Conn., to a 3-1 victory over Auburn. Nardone struck out 10 and did not walk a batter.
“The infield made a lot of nice plays,” Nardone said on the Little League World Series website. “The defense keeps me in the game.”
Nate Klein, who went 2-for-3 at the plate, scored Fairfield’s first run in the bottom off the second, then made a nice catch to his left at third base on a line drive to save a possible extra-base hit.
“I wasn’t really paying a lot of attention, but all of sudden there was a line drive coming at me,” Klein said. “I just stuck my glove out.”
Fairfield broke a 1-1 tie on Jack Quinn’s two-run double with no one out in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The game had the first manager’s replay challenge, a new wrinkle for this year’s tournament. Washington skipper Kai Nahaku lost the challenge in the top of the fifth inning after disputing an out call at home that would have given his team a 2-1 lead.
Robbie Wilson and Ikaika Nahaku each went 2-for-3 for Auburn, which plays Plymouth, Minn., at 5 p.m. today. The game will be televised on ESPN.
In Friday’s other contests:
Pearland (Texas) 10, Plymouth (Minn) 8
Blake Toler’s solo home run in the first inning set the tone for the game as Pearland out-slugged Plymouth. Jake Orlando finished 4-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI for Pearland. “I would be super excited to just come up here and watch games, but to play them is 1,000 times better,” Orlando said.
Puerto Rico 11, Germany 0
The team managed by Jose Valentin, father of major leaguers Jose and Javier Valentin, hit five homers and two pitchers combined on a one-hitter in a game that ended after four innings because of the 10-run rule.
The elder Valentin has three grandsons on the team, and two of them made big splashes: Yomar Valentin homered twice and drove in five runs, and Victor Valentin also homered.
Japan 4, Mexico 2
Ginga Maruoka smacked a three-run homer with two out in the top of the sixth inning to lift Japan past Mexico. The 12-year-old Marouka didn’t waste time when he got to the plate with runners on first and second and two out, depositing the first pitch from reliever Ricardo Puga over the wall in left-center to finally put Japan on the scoreboard after trailing 1-0 much of the game.