Originally created 08/11/01

Russia gets first qualifier for Little League World Series



WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Khovrino of Moscow defeated Tbilisi YMCA of Georgia 12-2 Friday to become the first team from the former Soviet Union to qualify for the Little League World Series.

Nikolai Lobanov, who pitched five innings, worked a total of 16 innings at the tournament in Kotna, Poland - allowing only four runs.

Khovrino is the first team made up of native Europeans to qualify for the Little League World Series, played every year in Williamsport.

Previous European qualifiers have been made up mostly of children of American military, diplomats or business personnel.

This year's series has been expanded from eight teams to 16 - eight from the United States and eight from abroad. The reorganization allowed Little League to create two leagues for teams in Europe and the Middle East.

The Europe Region is for teams composed of players native to the country they're playing in. The Transatlantic League, won by Saudi Arabia, is for teams with mostly foreign players.

Only one of the eight foreign qualifiers is still undecided. Teams from Guam, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles and Panama will also take part in Williamsport.