SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Danny Marzo was thinking about his manager’s advice as he walked to the plate in the eighth inning: Concentrate on making a good swing, not hitting a home run.
He listened and went deep anyway — for one memorable game-ending shot.
The 12-year-old Marzo drove a breaking ball to the grassy hill beyond the right-field wall to help Petaluma, Calif., advance in the Little League World Series with a 5-4 victory over Parsippany, N.J., on Monday.
Manager Eric Smith “told me you can’t go up there thinking walk-off home run,” Marzo said. “You have to be thinking base hit. A walk-off comes off a good base-hit swing.”
California’s next game is a rematch against Fairfield, Conn., which advanced when Will Lucas tossed a no-hitter in a 2-0 victory over New Castle, Ind. Petaluma beat Fairfield 6-4 on Thursday on Day 1 of the World Series.
Marzo’s giddy teammates started lining up around the plate to pat him on his helmet before he even reached second. Their frantic fans started chanting “Petaluma!”
The skipper’s son, 13-year-old shortstop Hance Smith, knew the ball was headed out when he saw Marzo’s swing.
“I didn’t really (see the ball) leave the park,” Hance Smith said with a smile. “I just came out to greet him.”
Curacao also packed a punch Monday, scoring three times in the fifth inning to rally for a 4-3 victory over Canada in an elimination game. Mychellon Jansen’s solo homer provided the go-ahead run.
Also, Mexico edged Taiwan 4-3, and Nebraska will return home with a win after scoring 15 runs in the second inning of a 17-1 victory over Ramstein, Germany in a consolation game. The 15 runs were a World Series record for one inning.
Canada, New Jersey, Taiwan and Indiana were eliminated.
Parsippany pushed across two runs in the sixth to tie it at 4. Emil Matti homered and David Ton had an RBI single.
California’s Logan Douglas struck out four in 2 1-3 scoreless innings to set up Marzo’s winning homer. Smith went 2 for 3 with a two-run single in the fourth.
Petaluma’s victory sparked a celebration in Oakland’s clubhouse before a night game against Minnesota. Third baseman Brandon Inge planted a whipped cream pie on teammate Jonny Gomes after the Athletics watched Marzo’s big hit. Gomes, who’s from Petaluma, proudly wore a Petaluma Little League T-shirt.
The California kids have a flair for dramatic victories, just like the A’s, who have a major league-leading 20 wins in their final at-bat.
“I don’t know if we’re watching them or they’re watching us,” said Gomes, a longtime financial supporter of the local league. “It must be in the water up here.”