SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — After a hard-earned win Thursday, the team from Petaluma, Calif., got two days off to get ready for its next game at the Little League World Series.
Thirteen-year-old Austin Paretti had other plans.
"Swimming," the outfielder exclaimed with eyes wide open in anticipation.
The pint-sized Paretti and his teammates earned a little down time at the Little League complex pool after a 6-4 victory Thursday over Fairfield, Conn., on a sun-splashed opening day.
California starting pitcher Bradley Smith struck out seven and went 4 for 4 at the plate with a homer and three RBIs to help the West region champs hold on against Connecticut.
The 13-year-old Smith strikes an imposing pose with his 6-foot-3 frame. But he had some early jitters on the mound after giving up a first-inning home run to Biagio Paoletta.
"You can't be nervous in these games. You're one of the top 16 teams … in the world," Smith said calmly. "So I was thinking, 'What do I have to be nervous about?' "
He felt much better in the third after hitting a 2-0 curveball deep to left-center that just eluded outfielder Matt Clarkin's glove and just cleared the fence 225 feet away for a two-run homer and 3-1 lead.
But California couldn't shake Connecticut. Will Lucas tripled home a run before scoring on a passed ball to get Connecticut within a run in the bottom of the fifth.
Connecticut threatened again in the sixth, but reliever Andrew White got a double play and strikeout to end the game. The 12-year-old lefty pumped his fist after he left the mound to be greeted by giddy teammates.
The 5-foot Paretti, the smallest player on his team, came up big with a two-run single in the fifth.
JAPAN 7, CURACAO 0: Kotaro Kiyomiya and Noriatsu Osaka combined for a two-hitter for Tokyo in the opening game of the Little League World Series. Kiyomiya didn't allow a hit and struck out seven in 22/3 innings. Osaka finished on the mound in relief with seven strikeouts.
TAIWAN 14, GERMANY 1, 4 INNINGS: Li-Wei Chiang homered and drove in four runs, and Feng Chen went 3 for 3 with three RBIs for the team from Taoyuan. Kyle Glenn had Germany's only hit, while Justin Wilson scored the team's only run in the game that ended early because of Little League's 10-run rule.
It hardly mattered to Wilson's father, Marquis, who arrived in South Williamsport on Wednesday — just in time to see his 12-year-old son play for the first time in two months. The elder Wilson, who serves in the military as a security forces trainer in Afghanistan, is on a 15-day leave.
TENNESSEE 12, NEBRASKA 1: Starting pitcher Brock Myers struck out eight and homered to spoil the debut of a Nebraska team at the Little League World Series.
Myers, a 12-year-old righty, kept the Midwest's mini-mashers at bay with a fastball and off-speed pitch. He allowed one hit over 41/3 innings.