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Murrayhill rebounds with 9-1 victory at Little League World Series

DeJardin throws three-hitter, offense delivers early against Louisiana team

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Murrayhill is one win from the U.S. semifinals of the Little League World Series after its 9-1 victory Sunday over Lake Charles, La.

Murrayhill scored two runs in the first inning and four runs in the second and never trailed. Devon DeJardin went the distance for the win, and Derek Keller had five RBIs, three on a fourth-inning home run that gave the Beaverton all-star team a 9-1 lead.

"That was Murrayhill baseball, winning by that score," assistant coach Ron Pool said. "That's the way so many of our games have been - jumping on the other team early and then holding them down. Get up early, play some defense and let the pitcher relax and do his thing."

Murrayhill, 1-1 in pool play, will face Columbia, Mo., (1-1) at 5 p.m. today (ESPN). A victory by Murrayhill would guarantee at least a second-place finish in the four-team pool and a berth in the U.S. semifinals on Wednesday or Thursday. The U.S. champion will meet the winner of the eight-team international division on Sunday for the championship.

The 5-10 DeJardin made his second start in three days for Murrayhill. He gave up a grand slam in a five-run first inning on Friday, when he lasted only one-third of an inning against Portsmouth. Sunday's game, televised live by ESPN, was totally different. He limited Lake Charles to three hits, while striking out eight and walking none.

"It was like falling off a horse and getting right back on," Pool says. "We told him there were only two pitches he threw bad the other game. Today, in four of five of the innings, his first pitch was a strike, and that's big, to get ahead of these hitters."

DeJardin admittedly was "a little nervous about today. I didn't want the same thing to happen."

But, as manager Jeff Keller says, "I believed in him, his teammates believed in him, we just needed to make sure that he believed in himself, and he did. It was a must-win game today. I knew he had it in him. He got a bunch of e-mails today, some from people he didn't even know, telling him, 'Hey.Relax. Settle down. You're going to go out and pitch a great game.'"

Fry, the leadoff batter for Murrayhill, got things started on his first swing - a home run to right field. Murrayhill added a run later in the first inning, when Bryan Domogalla singled and came home on Sam Albert's single.

"That's fairly typical, Jace getting us going right from the beginning," Pool says.

"I wasn't expecting a home run, because I had two strikes, but then he piped the changeup right down the middle and I hit it," Fry says.

Lake Charles starter Paul Beglis struck out seven batters in the first three innings and led off the top of the fourth with a home run to center, but his team couldn't match Murrayhill's offensive prowess (nine hits in five at-bats).

Lake Charles' first batter, Tanner Hebert, singled to right, but Murrayhill got out of the inning on two force outs and a strikeout.

DeJardin struck out the side in the second inning, giving up a single along the way.

In the bottom of the second, Toma Matisoff led off with a double to the wall in left center. Trevor Nix walked and Fry was intentionally walked to load the bases. Domogalla struck out for the second out, but Keller popped a single in front of the left fielder that scored Matisoff and Nix, giving Murrayhill a 4-0 lead. Then Albert singled past the shortstop, driving in Fry, and Keller scored from third when the throw from the outfield got past the third baseman for a 6-0 cushion.

Lake Charles got a hit in the third inning but couldn't advance the runner beyond second base.

Then Keller delivered his three-run shot after Fry had singled and Domogalla had walked.

Murrayhill's first four batters in the order - Fry, Domogalla, Keller and Albert - combined to go 7-for-10 with seven RBIs and seven runs scored.

Murrayhill, meanwhile, was hitting the ball more sharply, and longer.

"Those home runs were launched," Jeff Keller says. "I don't care if they were 250-foot fences (instead of 225), they were gone. We hit the ball very well today. We drove the ball."

For a complete story and photos from the World Series, please see Thursday's edition of the Valley Times.