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Missouri gets deep-Fryed

Jace Fry's gutsy pitching, two late runs pace 2-1 win over Missouri stars
by: CHRISTOPHER WEDDLE, HERE IT COMES — Murrayhill’s Jace Fry winds up to throw a pitch to a bater from Daniel Boone Little League of Columbia, Mo., the Midwest representative, during his team’s 2-1 pool-play victory on Monday in the Little League World Series at Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pa.

The ride continues for Murrayhill.

The Murrayhill Little League Majors all-stars from Beaverton won their second straight pool play game Monday night at Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pa., before a crowd of 15,200, scoring single runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to carry them past Daniel Boone Little League of Missouri 2-1.

'Some kids were thinking that this could be it, and we didn't want to go home,' said first baseman Devon DeJardin, who went 1-for-3 at the plate Monday and drove in the winning run in the sixth inning. 'We wanted to keep playing out here and playing ball. We didn't want our summer to end.'

'Somebody had to win that game and somebody had to lose that game, and that's a shame because both pitchers pitched their hearts out,' Murrayhill manager Jeff Keller said. 'We were fortunate. We got some pitches to drive and we put the ball in play.'

The win left Murrayhill with a final pool play record of 2-1, good for second place in its four-team pool, and sent the Beaverton stars into the World Series semifinal where they faced the Great Lakes Little League team yesterday (Wednesday). Portsmouth, N.H., won Murrayhill's pool at 2-1, while Missouri was eliminated after finishing 1-2.

Murrayhill got a dynamite pitching performance Monday from Jace Fry (he allowed just three hits, four walks and one hit batter while striking out 10) but his team fell behind 1-0 early in the game and had to come through in the clutch to win its way into the semifinals.

Murrayhill fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning when Missouri's Beau Burkett singled to right field with one out, moved to third on a groundout and a wild pitch, then scored when Jeffrey Ausmus beat out a tapper up the third base line.

Early on, it appeared Murrayhill might be facing a repeat of its opening pool play game when Portsmouth's Jordan Bean shut the team down on two hits and struck out 14. Missouri pitcher Ryan Phillips struck out eight batters in the game's first four innings and worked his way out of trouble in three of those, stranding two Murrayhill runners in the first, one in the third and another in the fourth.

But Phillips' good fortune ran out in the fifth against the potent Murrayhill lineup, which put collected eight hits in the game. Perry Lampman came off the bench to hit a one-out triple past the diving Ausmus in right field, and pinch runner Corey Pool came home to tie the game at 1-1 when Fry singled to center.

Phillips escaped more damage in the fifth with a strikeout and a fine defensive play from first baseman Landon Clapp on a hard shot by Derek Keller, but Murrayhill was back at work again in the top of the sixth. This time, it was Miguel Rivera who got things rolling when he doubled off the top of the right field fence - his opposite-field liner falling just two feet short of being a home run - then gave way to pinch-runner Austin Perry. Perry moved up on a passed ball, then came home with the game-winner on Devon DeJardin's looping single to center field.

'After the double I had, we knew we were back in this,' Rivera said. 'After Devon's hit, it was really exciting.'

Fry then struck out the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the sixth, getting Clapp after a long battle, then Burkett on a breaking ball in the dirt. Missouri's Ford Zitsch worked Fry for a walk on a 3-2 pitch outside, but Fry came right back against Ausmus, getting ahead 1-2, then striking him out on the outside corner.

'He's a great pitcher,' Jeff Keller said of Fry. 'His velocity was probably better in the fifth and sixth innings than it was early in the game. He's a warrior. It's fun to watch him. It's fun to coach him.'

For the game, Sam Albert led Murrayhill hitters by going 2-for-3 at the plate while six other hitters had one hit apiece. Albert also turned in a dynamite unassisted double play on a backhand play up the middle in the first inning from his second base position, and Keller followed suit with an unassisted double play in the fourth. Ausmus went 2-for-3 and knocked in his team's only run.

Mark Rogoff of littleleague.org also contributed to this story.