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April 24, 2007 > World Series rematch, Little League-style

World Series rematch, Little League-style

By Geoff Stanford

The first four innings of the Niles Centerville; 14 and under, junior boy's Little League game Saturday, April 21, were eerily similar to the 1988 World Series pitting the Oakland A's against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team names were the same; and pitchers, Bryce Fryan and Gabe Crettella, were dueling aces a la Dave Stewart and Orel Hershiser.

The backdrop of the mountains of Niles Canyon from Vallejo Mill Elementary School was beautiful in its own right and reminiscent of Chavez Ravine that surrounds Dodger Stadium. The only thing missing was Kirk Gibson pumping his fist while rounding second, a memory that continues to haunt A's fans.

Bryce Fryan did his best Kirk Gibson imitation, though, as he dashed the hopes of A's fans both on the mound and at the plate. Fryan went 3 for 4 with a walk as the Dodgers' top offensive weapon, scoring three runs and knocking in three more. On the mound, he shut down the A's offense for 6-plus innings, allowing four hits and striking out 11 as he gave up four runs, most of them unearned. Fryan threw an array of overpowering fastballs combined with off-speed pitches that kept the A's hitters off balance.

Fryan said he learned how to throw his curve by watching former A's pitcher Barry Zito and used that weapon very effectively against the A's. "We didn't start the season off like we knew we should, but we are turning it around and should have a good second half," Fryan said after the game.

Gabe Celletta was matching Fryan's brilliance on the mound until he ran into some trouble in the fourth inning. A few errors in the field, combined with some timely hitting by the Dodgers, broke the stalemate. Beau Lawrence of the A's, whose nifty base running led to two runs in the fifth inning, also showed his defensive ability and value as he started the game at second base; then played shortstop, third base and catcher, filling in brilliantly wherever he was needed.

The A's made a game of it after Fryan left the mound in the bottom of the seventh as they rallied for five runs, cutting the Dodger lead to 12 - 9. But the Dodger defense stepped up and ended the comeback bid.

Thanks to the players, coaches and other volunteers of Niles Centerville Little League, Tri-City area baseball fans have plenty of chances to enjoy the game they all love. Similar scenes are played out all over the Bay Area every weekend offering great opportunities to enjoy the sun, the game of baseball, and the kids who continue to make it America's pastime.

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