SAT AUG 29, 1998 - Toms River 12, Kashima 9 * WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) Chris Cardone hit home runs in consecutive at-bats, including a game-deciding two-run shot, as Toms River, N.J., won its first Little League World Series with a 12-9 victory over Kashima, Japan, Saturday afternoon.
Todd Frazier, Scott Fisher and Casey Gaynor also homered in a slugfest in which 11 balls clear the fences. Toms River's bench scrummed at home plate after each one and, after Frazier struck out the final batter, they leaped on top of him as the crowd full of New Jerseyans celebrated.
Frazier went 4-for-4 and finished the series with a .600 average and four homers.
Toms River, which finished 5-0, is the first World Series champion from New Jersey since Lakewood's 4-3 victory over Belmont Heights, Tampa, Fla., in 1975.
Tetsuya Furukawa, Kashima's hottest hitter all week with a .555 average and 10 RBIs, hit three of Kashima's five homers. And on two of them, Tatsuya Sugata followed with solo shots of his own. But Kashima, the first team from Japan in the series final since 1976, couldn't overcome Toms River's onslaught.
Sayaka Tsushima, the sixth girl to play in a World Series and the first from a Far East champion, was the first girl to play in a final. She went 0-for-3.
Toms River, after twice surrendering leads, scored four runs in the sixth inning as Cardone broke out of a 1-for-10 series slump. Gabe Gardner, whose two fifth-inning errors had helped Japan tie the game, drove in two runs with a single to make it 12-8.
After surrendering a 3-0 first-inning lead, Toms River went ahead 8-4 on two run homers by Fisher and Gaynor in the fourth inning and Cardone's pinch hit shot in the fifth.
As they had all day, the Japanese came back behind the second of Furukawa and Sagata's consecutive homers in the fifth inning. Gardner's two errors at third allowed a third run to score, and a passed ball on Frazier's first pitch in relief tied the game 8-8.
Frazier's homer came on Sugata's third pitch of the game. Gaynor's single drove in a second run, but Sugata - who gave up three runs on three hits and three walks in two-thirds of an inning got his revenge with a homer in the bottom of the inning.
A Japanese team hadn't been to the final since Chofu, Tokyo, won it in 1976 by beating Campbell, Calif., 10-3.
THU AUG 27, 1998 - Toms River 5, Greenville 2 * U.S. CHAMPIONSHIP
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) There are plenty of reasons why Toms River, N.J., manager Mike Gaynor wants his team to bat first.
He got a few good reasons Thursday night when Scott Fisher doubled in a run in the top of the first and Gabe Gardner followed with a two-run home run on the way to a 5-2 victory over Greenville, N.C. and Toms River's first berth in the Little League World Series final.
"That's the idea," said Gaynor, whose team has managed to be the visitor 27 straight times this year. "You're up 3-0 and it kind of takes the wind out of their sails."
In addition to going 2-for-4, the left-handed Fisher struck out 10 to improve to 2-0 with two earned runs and 14 strikeouts this week.
"Scott's just great out there on the mound," Gaynor said.
Todd Frazier hit his third home run of the series, a two-run shot that put the game out of reach in the sixth inning, and minutes later he and his teammates were circling the ballpark as their fans chanted "Beast of the East!"
In Saturday's final, Toms River (4-0) faces Kashima, Japan (3-1) which became the first team from Japan to reach a series final in 22 years by beating Langley, British Columbia 3-2 in eight innings Thursday.
"I just want to go out and have fun and even if we do lose, we're still No. 1 in the U.S.," Frazier said.
"We're not going to lose, Todd," Gaynor quickly interjected.
Greenville, the first North Carolina team to make the World Series since Mooresville in 1952, finished 2-2, with both losses coming against Toms River.
Greenville pulled to 3-2 on Justin Hardee's third-inning home run, but could get no more from New Jersey's No. 1 starter.
"Their pitcher has a nice curve and he just shut us down," said Hardee, who hit three homers this week.
Alex White, pitching in his first game in tournament play for Greenville, gave up five runs on five hits and struck out nine.
TUE AUG 25, 1998 - Toms River 5, Greenville 3
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) Todd Frazier went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and Casey Gaynor threw a five-hitter as Toms River beat Greenville 5-3 at the Little League World Series.
Frazier scored three runs and is now 4-for-8 with a grand slam and seven RBIs in Toms River's three wins.
The North Carolinians are 1-1 in the US pool and stay in contention.
Greenville's Justin Hardee hit a two-run homer and Shelton Nelson hit an RBI single, but they were the only players to get to Gaynor.
Robert Barnhill, Greenville's starter, gave up eight hits and five runs, including two on wild pitches in the sixth.
MON AUG 24, 1998 - Toms River 4, Cypress 2
SUN AUG 23, 1998 - Toms River 13, Jenison 9
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) In Sunday's other game, Jenison finally broke the tie in the 11th inning with Brad Frank's RBI single to score Chris Cardone. Two more runs came in when a ball went through shortstop Sean Markle's legs, another run was walked in and Jenison led 12-9.
Frank's RBI single in the fifth tied it at 8-8 and Joe Franceschini's RBI single gave Toms River the lead in the top of the 6th inning.
But Derek Stempin's two-out, two-strike homer tied it at 9-9 in the bottom of the inning. Then the two teams went on a four-inning drought.
Stempin had a three-run home run in the first inning and Billy Miller hit a two-run homer in the third for Jenison.
Todd Frazier hit a 250-foot grand slam in the third inning for Toms River.
FRI AUG 21, 1998 - New Jersey Team Wins Eastern Region Title
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) Scott Fisher pitched a no-hitter, fanned 12 and hit a solo home run as Toms River (N.J.) East American Little League defeated Georgetown (Del.) Little League 2-0 tonight in the Little League Eastern Region championship game at Breen Field in Bristol, Conn.
Todd Frazier added a solo homer for Toms River. The two home runs were the only hits off Delaware's Matt Schlitter, who went the distance and struck out 10.
Toms River East American Little League advances to the 52nd Little League Baseball World Series, starting Sunday here at Howard J. Lamade Stadium. Toms River is the 14th New Yersey team to earn a berth in the pinnacle of youth baseball tournaments. Toms River National made it to the Little League World Series in 1995, but did not reach the final game.
Toms River's first game in the World Series, a 15-game tournament for 11-12 year olds, will be Sunday at 6 p.m., live on ESPN2, against Georgetown National Little League of Jenison, Mich. Georgetown defeated Canfield (Ohio) Little League 11-2 in the U.S. Central Region title game in Indianapolis Wednesday night.
The U.S. Western Region final was scheduled for later tonight from San Bernardino, Calif. The U.S. Southern Region Championship was won by Tar Heel Little League of Greenvile, N.C., which defeated Morristown (Tenn.) Little League, 6-0, Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The other three teams already determined are: Kashima Little League of Kashima, Japan; Linda Vista Little League of Guadalupe, Mexico; and Arabian American Little League of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Canada plays its national championship Saturday afternoon in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.
A total of eight teams, four from the U.S. and one each from Latin America, the Far East, Canada and Europe, will play an Olympic pool play format tournament over seven days to determine the World Series Champion.
Eight Little League World Series games will be televised live on ESPN2, as well as a hitting contest and all star game. One game will be televised on ESPN, and the championship game on Aug. 29 will be televised on ABC Wide World of Sports at 3:30 p.m.
About 15,000 games in six weeks are played nationwide in Little League Division tournaments leading up to the regional tournaments. Teams representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia advance to the four U.S. regional tournaments, where tournament play continues for a week or more. Thirty-five states and 21 countries have sent teams to the Little League World Series since the first Series was played in 1947.
Little League Baseball is the largest organized youth sports program in the world, with nearly 3 million participants in all 50 states and 93 other countries. ESPN2 is now available in more than 55 million households.