Game 12
1 vs. Transatlantic 9

Sunday, August 20, 2006
5:00PM ET

Sensational Saudi!
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia goes to 2-0 after 9-1 victory over Saipan

By Mark Rogoff
Special Correspondent

The kids from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia failed to score a single run in last year’s Little League Baseball World Series, a troubling statistic that lead them to an 0-3 record in a tough Pool D that included teams from Curacao, Japan and Venezuela.

This year is different. Way different.

Following a 5-0 victory over Canada on Friday, Saudi Arabia scored nine more times Sunday in a 9-1 win over Saipan, CNMI to improve to 2-0 and come within striking distance of advancing out of pool play for the first time since 1994.

“I’m not that much of a historian,” said Saudi Arabia manager James Durley when asked if he knew how long it had been since a Dhahran team had advanced out of pool play. “I’m more concerned about this year. I know history hasn’t been in our favor. I just know it’s been quite some time.”

Saudi hitters, who last year collected just five base hits in 58 at-bats (an .086 team batting average), went 10-for-28 with a pair of homers Sunday vs. Saipan in front of 9,500 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium. They are now batting .296 (16-for-54) with four home runs through their first two games of pool play.

“We’ve talked to the guys on several occasions about how we left here last year with a sour taste in our mouth,” said manager Durley. “This year we said we didn’t want to leave here with that type of taste in our mouth. We worked on (hitting) a lot, and this year it’s come through for us.”

Saudi Arabia scored in each of the first four innings before going down in order in both the fifth and sixth.

Andrew Holden homered for the second time in as many games, this time giving his Saudi squad an early lead with a three-run homer in the first. He took a 2-2 hanging curve from Saipan starter Brian Camacho over the wall in left.

“I was just focusing on a base hit and waiting on it because it was really slow than what we’re used to,” Holden said. “I just took the same swing as I did the other night and it just barely went over.”

George Luo chased Camacho from the game in the third with his RBI single to left, which made it 5-0. Luo also hit a solo homer in the second.

“I don’t know, I just went up there for a base hit and the home run just kind of happened,” Luos said.

Matt Timoney, who is playing his record-breaking third Little League Baseball World Series, allowed just one run and one hit in four-plus innings of work for the win. He tossed 3.2 innings of hitless baseball until giving up a Harry Nakamura bloop single to left. Timoney was taken out in the fifth after walking lead-off hitter Joseph Palacios, who later came around to score on Anthony Manalo’s double.

Timoney also contributed at the plate with a single and run scored in the first, and an RBI fielder’s choice in the third.

“It feels good because I’ve never done this before, win two games in a row,” Timoney said. “(We have) more power and better defense. Everything is better, especially pitching.”

Added manager Durley: “Any time we leave Arabia with the team we always hope that this will be the year for us to be more competitive. You leave there with that type of confidence.”

Leadoff hitter Nate Burnett reached base all four times he got to the plate, getting hit by a pitch in the first, knocking a single to left in the second, working a bases-loaded walk in the third, and driving an RBI single to right-centerfield in the fourth.

Michael Knight, who played centerfield for the first four innings, came on in relief of Timoney and worked two scoreless innings to close it out.

Saudi Arabia has six returning players from last year’s squad.

Saipan fell to 0-1 in their first official game. Its first game on Saturday vs. Venezuela was suspended with no score after eight innings due to rain.

“Unfortunately, our bats were very cold tonight,” said Saipan manager James Ada.


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