AP Sports Writer

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ Powerful Petaluma, Calif., can
pitch, too.

Hance Smith’s three-run homer in the third broke open a tight
game, and reliever-turned-starter Quinton Gago struck out seven
over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-0 win Tuesday night over Fairfield,
Conn., in the Little League World Series.

California moves on to the U.S. semifinals on Thursday night.
Connecticut was eliminated.

The 12-year-old Gago said it was the best performance of his
young career, even though he was a little nervous when the night

“In the back of my mind, I said `I am not a starter,”’ Gago
said as he held on to an ice pack strapped to his left shoulder.
“But right as I took the mound, I felt it went away.”

Nuevo Laredo, Mexico also is moving on after a 6-2 victory over
Willemstad, Curacao, and Lugazi, Uganda made the biggest splash
Tuesday with a win in its tournament finale.

The first team from Africa to qualify for youth baseball’s
biggest tournament notched another first with a 3-2 victory over
Gresham, Ore. in a consolation game. Uganda dropped its first two
games in the series.

In the nightcap, Gago stifled Connecticut.

Fairfield’s best chance came in the second when Michael Ghiorzi
led off with a single, and an error made it runners on first and
second with nobody out.

But third baseman Cole Tomei charged a bunt and started a 5-6-4
double play, and Gago got a strikeout to end the threat.

“That was completely awesome,” Gago said about the double
play. “That double play really helped me out a lot. I really liked

Ryan Meury led off the Connecticut sixth with a double, and Gago
left after a groundout because he had reached his pitch limit. He
got a hug from a teammate before heading to the dugout.

Reliever Andrew White closed it out, and the teams exchanged
handshakes at the plate before the California kids returned calmly
to their dugout while a marching band played in the stands.

After his team won elimination games in three consecutive days,
manager Eric Smith said he planned to give his boys Wednesday off.
But White quickly reminded him of one trip he promised they could

“What about Dairy Queen?” the 12-year-old White asked.

“Oh yeah,” Smith said, “I did tell them they could go to
Dairy Queen.”

Connecticut plans to stick around Williamsport for a little
while so the players can finally enjoy some time with their
families after three weeks of tournament play. Manage Bill Meury
gathered a Fairfield all-star team that’s played together for three
summers for one final meeting in left field.

“You guys are like brothers. The (coaches) love you guys, and
we’ve had a great three years together,” Meury said in recounting
the meeting. “You should walk off this field with your head held
high because you gave Fairfield one of the best summers they’ve had
in a little while.”

Follow Genaro Armas at

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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