Originally created 08/22/06

Coaches give players break from game



SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - The bright lights, big crowds and media hype of the Little League World Series can get to a 12-year-old baseball player sometimes. So coaches and parents look for distractions.

Some get away from baseball entirely. The kids from Venezuela went to the mall. The Phoenix team bagged practice Monday and planned to picnic at a serene lake in the Poconos. Friends and family of players from Lake Charles, La., saw Amish farms after the team's game early Sunday afternoon.

Staten Island, N.Y., manager Nick Doscher said he was taking his players out to dinner Monday night, nearly 24 hours after they lost 1-0, their second consecutive one-run defeat.

"Just let them be kids a little bit. Get them away from baseball," Doscher said. His team is 0-2 and faces an uphill road to advance.

"The hard part is, they don't want this to end," he said.

Twelve-year-old Devin Dejardin struggled on the mound in his first game Friday for Beaverton, Ore., before rebounding Sunday with a nice pitching performance in a 9-1 win. His manager, Jeff Keller, gave the team time off in between game days, and the move seemed to have helped.

"We goofed around. It kind of relaxed us." Dejardin said after his win, an ice pack strapped to his right shoulder.

Getting to the series is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of these players.

"I can't believe I'm here," Curacao outfielder Mirangelo Muller, 12, said through his mother, Desiree, at the Japan-Mexico game.

Players are often on a rigid schedule, especially at the start of the series. There are TV interviews, picture-taking sessions and equipment fittings, not to mention practice and time at the batting cage.

The dorms offer a distraction. There's a video arcade and pingpong table, and players talk and exchange pins with other kids.

MANAGER, PLAYER REPRIMANDED: Doscher and one of his players were reprimanded by series organizers Monday after an incident during the New York team's 1-0 loss to Lemont, Ill., in which the player yelled an obscenity and Doscher responded by striking him.

The obscenity was clearly heard on ESPN's prime-time broadcast of the game. It appeared Doscher then struck the player with an open hand. ESPN said it will use a five-second delay for remaining Little League broadcasts.

LAKE CHARLES, LA. 5, PORTSMOUTH, N.H. 0

Jordan Bean tossed a two-hitter and Portsmouth scored five runs in the fifth inning to break open a scoreless game. Bean struck out 12 and was helped by solid defense as the Southwest region champs (2-1) clinched a berth in the next round.

The South Lake Charles league team (1-2) was eliminated from the tournament.

VENEZUELA 1, SAIPAN 0

Roberto Valera's RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the eighth lifted Barquisimeto, Venezuela (1-0). It took eight minutes Monday morning for the teams to finish a game that was suspended after nearly three hours of play Saturday night because of rain. Harry Nakamura struck out eight for Saipan (0-2).

WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO 8, MOSCOW, RUSSIA 0

Dienston Manuela fired a two-hitter and struck out 12 and Alexander Rodriguez had three hits for Curacao (1-1). Russia (0-3) was eliminated from the tournament.

KAWAGUCHI CITY, JAPAN 6, MATAMOROS, MEXICO 1

Japan (2-0) hit three homers in the third inning, including a solo shot by pitcher Seigo Yada. Yada fired a four-hitter, striking out 12.