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BABE RUTH WORLD SERIES Youngstown triumphs to earn playoff berth



Published: Wed, August 24, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Ohio Valley regional champions will play again on Thursday.

By NATE CROSSMAN

SPECIAL TO THE VINDICATOR

QUINCY, Mass. -- Now the 14-year-old Youngstown Babe Ruth All-Star team can relax.

Sort of.

Youngstown defeated Norwood, Mass., 3-0, on Tuesday in the Babe Ruth 14-year-old World Series to finish the pool play round with a 3-1 record.

The Ohio Valley region champs clinched the American League pool's No. 2 slot behind California's Tri-Valley, and will play the No. 3 Tri-Valley team from the National League in the single-elimination round Thursday at 8 p.m.

Despite his team's relatively lofty perch at this stage of the tournament, Youngstown coach Al Franceschelli spent a better part of his post-game speech imploring his team not to blow it (i.e., don't do something the average 14-year-old would do with 36 hours of free time and 650 miles away from parents).

Will practice today

To further make sure that doesn't happen, Franceschelli will hold a practice today where the team will work "very hard."

"I'd rather play [today[ because it's a game of momentum," Franceschelli said. "It's really tough for children to be away from home, in strange homes and a different environment. A lot of kids tank it.

"Most of these kids have never been away from home. It's a real learning experience for all of them," Franceschelli said.

The players took the news they'd be practicing on their day off in stride.

Shawn Roman, who picked up his second win of the World Series, thought having a day off was a good idea, but only because it gave his team a chance to practice.

One area the team doesn't need the practice is on the mound. Roman's four-inning, one-hit outing marked the fourth outstanding performance by Youngstown's starting pitchers, including in its loss to Tri-Valley.

1-2 pitching punch

Roman struck out seven and walked one before giving way to Nick Crum.

Crum allowed two hits but struck out five, including the last two batters of the game.

"We're still not clicking on all cylinders but our pitching's been great," Franceschelli said. "We've made no mistakes and have been hitting our spots. That's the name of the game."

Said Roman: "Coach went over game plan and it was to keep the ball high and tight and low and outside."

While Roman was executing the game plan, so was Norwood's Corey Sennott, who allowed only three singles through four innings.

One of those hits was to the first batter of the game, Drew Fitzpatrick. But Fitzpatrick tried to steal second on the next pitch and was thrown out by catcher Sparky Crossen. That effectively shut down Youngstown's potent running game.

Fourth-inning rally

Youngstown broke out in the fourth inning. With one out, Shane Wagner tripled to left-center field, the deepest part of Adams Field. Cory Hill followed with short fly ball to center field that Kevin Kuiauskas dropped, allowing Wagner to score the game's first run.

The error gave Youngstown confidence as Kevin McCulloh scored Hill with a line-drive double to left and Ricky Segesto doubled to left-center to plate McCulloh and put his team up 3-0.

McCulloh finished the afternoon 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.

"We're just going to focus and practice hard," Roman said about his team's plans for the off day. "Try to work out all the kinks before we go into the playoffs and hopefully we can win it."




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