Game 14
7 vs. New England 3

Sunday, August 21, 2005
8:00PM ET
Lamade Stadium

Rancho Buena Vista muy buena
West hands New England second-straight loss thanks to Kalen Pimentel granny

By Mark Rogoff

Vista’s Kalen Pimentel did it with his pitching Saturday. This time around, he did it with his bat. And both were done at ease.

The expectations were there, and everyone knows Pimentel and his West squad may be the best South Williamsport has to offer this August. Pressure? No way.

“I don’t really feel a lot of pressure,” he said. “I just go out and do what I do best, whether out on the mound or at the plate.”

One day after striking out a Little League Baseball World Series-record 18 hitters in a six-inning game, the Vista All-Star hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth to snap a 3-3 tie and give his West team a 7-3 win over Westbrook, Maine in front of 12,500 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.

Maine needed a win to stay alive in Pool B play. With an 0-2 record, Vista’s and Lafayette’s 2-0 marks, the New England champs now must simply enjoy the rest of their time in South Williamsport.

Pimentel’s grand slam came on the first pitch he saw from reliever Joey Royer. The ball safely landed on the hillside beyond the shrubbery in left-centerfield.

“[Manager Marty Miller] said, ‘I don’t care where you hit it, as long as you put it in play,’” Pimentel said.

The slam capped a five-run inning for Vista, which got a pinch-hit, game-tying RBI double from Aaron Kim two batters before the titanic blast.

Kim, who hit a three-run homer after coming off the bench Saturday, earned praise from his skipper.

“Mr. Kim here has had two phenomenal games,” Miller said.

“I was pretty happy that I didn’t get the bunt sign,” said Kim, who came to the plate with no outs and runners on first and second, a perfect bunting situation. “It felt really good.”

Kim’s hit scored Josh Gomez, who had led off the inning with a single up the middle off Maine starter Nick Finocchiaro. The righthander was pulled after that hit.

Finocchiaro was flat-out dominant, however, through the first three innings, retiring all nine batters he faced, seven of them going down by strikeouts. He fanned the side in the first, and ended the second and third innings with a pair of punchouts.

“It seemed like we were starting off a little tentative,” Miller said. “He did a good job. We just got off to a slow start against him.”

The tables turned in the bottom of the fourth, when Finocchiaro walked Danny Vivier to start the inning. Vivier advanced to second a nicely-executed sacrifice bunt by Nathan Lewis. Pimental then doubled to the left-centerfield gap to score Vivier. Following a Royce Copeland single and a Reed Reznicek strike out, Johnny Dee stroked a 2-2 fastball into right field to put his team ahead 2-1.

In an odd coincidence after Vista took the lead, Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” blared over the public address system. It was clear to everyone around that Westbrook needed a win to stay alive in pool play, and Michael Mowatt stepped to the plate with a different dance on his mind – a dance that has you run around 240 feet in a counter-clockwise circle. Mowatt took a 2-2 offering from Reznicek over the wall in left-centerfield for a two-run homer, giving his Westbrook team a 3-2 lead, one that would not last very long, however.

Reznicek, who hadn’t pitched since before the regional tournament, went the distance, giving up three runs on five hits, while fanning eight and walking a pair.

He fell into a 1-0 hole in the top of the first, when leadoff man Tommy Lemay drove the second pitch he saw to the left-centerfield gap for a double. He advanced to third on Zach Collett’s deep fly out to center. After Mowatt went down on strikes, Finocchiaro singled to right for the RBI.

“I have faith in [Reznicek],” Miller said. “He came in and pitched a great game against a great team.”

Westbrook did get a fine effort from Finocchiaro, who allowed five runs on 5 hits in four-plus innings of work.

“He did a great job,” said manager Rick Knight. “After the first time through the lineup it was a different story.”

In regard to Pimentel’s grand slam, Knight said, “I put Royer in a tough situation.”

Vista and Lafayette will battle for first place honors in Pool A Tuesday night at Lamade. Westbrook and Owensboro will lock horns to avoid going winless Tuesday afternoon at the World Series’ main stage.

Game Photos

2005, Little League Baseball Incorporated
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