Reiner, Westport LL hold off Sammamish, Wash.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Tim Rogers insisted all summer that his pitching staff was more than a two-man show.

With a late and perhaps unexpected surge by Sammamish, Wash., at the Little League World Series on Sunday, Westport needed to prove its manager correct. As it turned out, Alex Reiner, little-used of late on the mound, answered the call.

With his team's once-comfortable leading shrinking, Reiner provided some stability in relief, helping Westport hold on for dramatic 9-7 win over Washington in the winner's bracket on Sunday at Lamade Stadium. The right-hander tossed two scoreless frames as the New England champions locked up a spot in the United States semifinals before 20,823.

"I just came in trying to throw strikes," said Reiner, who had pitched just 2 2/3 innings since the start of the New England regional. "We have good fielders behind me. They make a lot of plays."

Reiner allowed an inherited runner to score on a single -- cutting Westport's lead to 9-7 as part of a four-run fifth -- but then stemmed the damage. Much to his manager's delight, he stranded two after Washington brought the go-ahead run to the plate with no outs.

"Alex just did a tremendous job," Rogers said. "The one thing you can always count on from Alex is his strikes. That's what we needed at the time."

Westport -- now 2-0 in the LLWS and 20-0 on the summer -- will face West champion Chula Vista, Calif., on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Lamade for a berth in the U.S. final. California (2-0) routed Newark, Del. 15-3 in four innings on Sunday.

Both of Westport's top pitchers, Chad Knight and Harry Azadian, will be available on Wednesday in what's looking more like a dream scenario. Azadian started on Sunday and earned his second win of the LLWS, allowing two runs in 3 1/3 innings.

"If you told me we were going to have all our pitching available and be in the semifinals, where do I sign? That's where we are. ... We could not have asked to be in a better position," Rogers said.

Azadian provided a chunk of the offense, recording three hits, including a towering two-run homer, and five RBIs.

Leading 9-1, Azadian was taken out at 50 pitches, allowing him to be available if needed on Wednesday. Washington, however, plated two runs in the fourth and four in the fifth off reliever Charlie Roof to make it 9-7. Down two runs, Sammamish put two runners on, but Jack Matheson was thrown out at third trying to advance on a wild pitch for a costly first out.

"We had to make something happen there," Sammamish manager Rob Chandler said, before continuing, "That doesn't look so good on the manager, does it? Bummer."

Sammamish again threatened in the sixth, putting two on with two outs. But Reiner struck out Jack Rud looking on a 3-2 fastball to end it, pitting Washington in Monday's elimination game against Urbandale, Iowa.

"The last three innings felt like it took four hours," Rogers said. "It was just painful."

Washington could also be without Jacob Dahlstrom on the mound. The right-hander was removed from Sunday's start in the second inning after taking a liner from Tatin Llamas off his right knee. Dahlstrom was on the field for a few minutes, writhing in pain, before he was helped off without putting weight on his leg.

With two runners on and one out at the time of Dahlstrom's injury, Westport capitalized. The New England champions rocked Washington's Will Armbruester and Jack Carper, plating seven runs on six hits and three walks.

Up 3-0 after a bases-loaded walk to Knight, Azadian broke the game open, lining a two-run single to center. A throwing error later on the play allowed Westport to make it 6-0. Roof tacked on a single to make it 7-0, giving Westport its most productive inning since district play.

Chandler said Dahlstrom was on crutches after the game, but did not completely rule him out in the field.

"He seems to be doing OK. It's a pretty deep bruise," Chandler said. "It hit just off the side of the knee. It was a pretty good shot. ¦ We will evaluate it later, and hopefully, he can come back and play tomorrow. "; 203-255-4561 ext 114;


WESTPORT 070 200 -- 9 13 2

SAMMAMISH 001 240 -- 7 9 1

Batteries: W -- Harry Azadian (W, 2-0), Charlie Roof (4), Alex Reiner (5, SV) and Matt Stone. S -- Jacob Dahlstrom (L, 1-1), Will Armbruester (2), Jack Carper (2), Dalton Chandler (4), Dylan Matsuoka (5) and Cameron Bowers. Home runs: W -- Azadian.