Harlem wins World Series opener

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2002

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Jeremy Lopez urged his cousin Javier to join his Little League team this summer. Good thing he did, because the two make a potent pair for Harlem.

Jeremy Lopez hit two home runs, including a grand slam, and Javier hit a two-run homer as the team from New York City beat Southwest Forsyth of Clemmons, N.C., 9-3 Saturday in the opening game for both teams at the Little League World Series.

Leading off in the third inning, Jeremy Lopez sent the first pitch over the wall in center field to give Harlem a 3-0 lead.

In the fourth, he hit a pitch over the wall in left.

''The first home run, he just hung a fastball on the outside corner, so I just swung away,'' Jeremy said.

''The second home run, he threw a curve ball and I just drove it.''

Jeremy was 3-for-3 with a walk. He singled to lead off the sixth and scored when cousin Javier hit a 240-foot home run to the hedge behind the center-field wall. Andrew Diaz added a two-run homer.

''This was beyond my expectations today in terms of how the bats were working,'' said Harlem manager Morris McWilliams. ''The bats just came alive.''

In other games, Valley Sports American of Louisville, Ky., beat Aptos, Calif., 4-1; Valencia, Venezuela, beat Central Guam 11-1; Sendai Higashi of Japan beat Khovrino of Moscow, 7-0; Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, beat Monterrey, Mexico, 10-1; and Worcester, Mass., beat Webb City, Mo., 2-1.

Harlem received by far the most attention of any team before the tournament, because of accusations that the team used players from outside its district.

But Little League exonerated the team earlier this week, saying all the players complied with the rules.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended the game and said he was glad Little League's investigations found no wrongdoing with the Harlem team.

''Too often, as adults, we make it difficult and forget that they are children,'' Bloomberg said.

Javier Lopez also pitched for Harlem, striking out 10 to earn the win.

Alex Robinson (0-1) took the loss for Southwest Forsyth.

''I told them I was proud of them,'' said North Carolina's manager, John Scott. ''I was proud and happy with their comeback. They didn't give up when they got down.''

Harlem next plays Saturday night against Louisville. Southwest Forsyth plays Sunday against Aptos.

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