Fairfield LL needs win tonight to advance to U.S. semis
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa.-- A day removed from history, the Fairfield American Little League team will focus its efforts on revenge.
Fairfield must beat a familiar foe to stay alive in the Little League World Series and advance to Thursday's U.S. semifinals. American will meet Petaluma, Calif., Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Lamade Stadium on ESPN2.
Petaluma defeated Fairfield 6-4 on Thursday, putting American in the loser's bracket. Fairfield's won its last two games, shutting out both Kearney, Neb., Saturday, and New Castle, Ind. on Monday, with Will Lucas tossing a no-hitter in Fairfield's 4-0 win over Indiana.
"We've got to go out and hit better than we did before," Lucas said. "We know that their lineup is strong and we have to be careful with them."
After beating Fairfield, California lost Sunday to Goodlettsville, Tenn., then defeated Parsippany, N.J., Monday afternoon, 5-4. Danny Marzo's eighth-inning, game-winning home run sealed Petaluma's victory.
"(Petaluma manager Eric Smith) told me, don't try to be the hero, just try to make contact," Marzo said. "You can't be thinking walkoff home run, you have to be thinking base hit, and a walkoff comes off a good base-hit swing."
Smith would not name a starter as of Monday night, but admitted he'd narrowed his choices down to two lefties, either Quinton Gago or Andrew White.
"They're a good team," Smith said of Fairfield. "That would be a challenge for us, I think the kids would look forward to the challenge."
White faced Fairfield Thursday, allowing one hit and one earned run in two innings, earning a save. Bradley Smith -- Petaluma's 6-3, 183-pound ace who earned the win against Fairfield Thursday -- is unavailable after throwing 90 pitches against New Jersey.
The idea of facing either left, but especially White, concerns Fairfield's Matt Kubel. White walked Kubel on Thursday.
"It's definitely a different look from the left side," Kubel said. "(White) had a cutter that was really nasty. We're just going to try to put the bat on the ball."
Matt Kubel will start for Fairfield. The 5-foot-11, 150-pound lefty has thrown 15 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to the New England Regional tournament and has won six straight decisions, dating back to the sectional tournament.
Kubel gets the nod over coach Bill Meury's son Ryan. Meury allowed three earned runs in four innings against Petaluma Thursday, and Bill Meury's decision to start Kubel was based on Petaluma having faced his son already.
Ryan is available to pitch in relief and the coach readily stated he will use his son if needed.
"We're not going to be saving pitchers at this point," Bill Meury said. "We'd like to but we can't ... if we have to waste them both, we will."