SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Pitcher Braydon Salzman missed getting hit in the head by a comebacker at the Little League World Series by the thin brim of his yellow cap.
But the hard shot didn't keep the 13-year-old right-hander down on the mound long. He dusted himself off to finish the third inning with a strikeout and scored three runs, too, for Huntington Beach, Calif., in an 11-0 victory over Cumberland, R.I., on Friday.
A scary scene turned into a lighthearted moment after the convincing win.
"It was supposed to be a curveball, but I think he threw the No. 5 ... the pancake," manager Jeff Pratto joked. Sitting next to him, a giggling Salzman sported a red spot on his forehead from where the line drive forced the brim into his head.
Also Friday, Colby Ring scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Langley, British Columbia, a 6-5 victory Friday over Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
; and Maracay, Venezuela, defeated Rotterdam, Netherlands, 6-1.
The nightcap featured the highly anticipated contest between LaGrange, Ky., and the blue-clad, hometown favorites from Clinton County, Pa., who play just 30 miles from South Williamsport.
By late afternoon, lines for free tickets stretched from the edges of Lamade Stadium up the grassy, terraced hill above the outfield — and that was before at least a dozen buses carrying fans from Clinton County arrived.
"It's Pennsylvania out there on their home turf. It's a sea of blue out there," Pratto said. "It's going to be a fun one."
His team had fun, too, especially after a six-run fifth inning that allowed the Huntington Beach bombers to pull away.
Trevor Windisch had three RBIs, two of them coming on a single in the fifth, and leadoff hitter Hagen Danner went 2 for 4 and scored twice to support starter Salzman and two relievers. California pitchers combined for eight strikeouts.
Danner also led off the game with triple to the right-field wall, scoring later on Steven Kotkosky's single.
"The kids were nervous," Rhode Island manager Dave Belisle said. "From the opening hit we gave them a couple extra bases."
People were a little nervous, too, after the line drive by Rhode Island's Ryan McCormick clipped Salzman's cap.
"It's hard to say," Salzman said when asked if he thought he would return to the game. "I didn't know if I was going to come back and throw strikes."
After walking the next batter, Salzman, 13, got his fifth strikeout to finish off the inning.
Canada 6, Saudi Arabia 5
With the game tied in the bottom of the sixth, Ring walked and moved to third when Ian Burns doubled. A curveball skipped away from the catcher, and Ring scampered home for the winning run.
Coach Jason Andrews told Ring, 11, to take advantage of any curveballs in the dirt.
"I saw it get by the catcher and I thought 'Go! Go! Go! Go,'" Ring said. "When I heard I was safe, it was awesome."
Tanner Beachy had an RBI double for Saudi Arabia, which took advantage of three Canada errors to score five runs in the top of the third after trailing 2-0 early.
Venezuela 6, Netherlands 1
Omar Conoropo Jr. knocked in three runs, two on a homer in the fifth, and Keny Marquez struck out 10 for Venezuela. Aaron de Groot walked and later scored the Netherlands' only run on a wild pitch in the fifth inning, while Darryl Jamoena added a double.