Sidearm curveballs, regular fastballs, and even some knuckleballs. No matter the direction or the spin, Jordan Brower was nearly unhittable.
Brower struck out eight and knocked in the winning run to lead Thousand Oaks, Calif., into the US semifinals with a 3-1 win that eliminated Lincoln, R.I., at the Little League World Series yesterday in South Williamsport, Pa.
"We're the best team in our bracket," said first baseman Danny Leon. "I think we're the team to beat."
Brower settled down after a shaky first inning, retiring 10 straight and looking dominant against a Rhode Island team playing 12 hours after a 5-4 loss to Morganton, N.C.
"I just came out and threw strikes," said Brower, who effectively mixed his wide array of pitches.
Did he ever. Forty-five of his 59 pitches were strikes. Brower walked none and Rhode Island batters in the late innings were taking weak cuts.
"We ran out of gas," Rhode Island coach Steve Rhault said. "They're the team to beat. I hope they go a long way up here because they deserve to."
Cody Thomson struck out one in the sixth and earned his first save.
California snapped a 1-1 tie in the third, capitalizing on some sloppy play. After Lincoln starter Chris Costantino retired the first two batters, he allowed a single to Sean McIntyre. McIntyre advanced to second when center fielder Damon Divozzi misplayed the ball. Pinch runner Adam Justiniano scooted to third on a wild pitch and scored on Brower's opposite-field single to left.
With two outs in the fifth, Leon singled, but ended up on third after a two-base error by right fielder Steve Ricci. Leon scored on a passed ball, making it 3-1.
Costantino allowed three runs -- only one earned -- and struck out nine in five innings.
Rhode Island took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Costantino's RBI single.
California's Tyler Karp led off the second with a walk and reached third on a couple of wild pitches. Costantino struck out the next two hitters, but James Brady's RBI single tied the score. . . .
In other games yesterday: Richmond, Texas, beat Preston, Md. 13-1; Curacao beat Saipan, 3-0; Canada beat Poland, 5-1; and Panama topped Taiwan, 6-2.
Matt Daniels had a homer and four RBIs, and tossed a two-hitter to lead Richmond, Texas. Daniels went 3 for 4, adding a double and a run scored. He also struck out 12 and walked one. Nick Gazo struck out eight in four innings of relief and Alex Baldock hit a solo home run to lead Ottawa. The Canadian team finished pool play with a 1-2 record. Poland was 0-3.