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NORTHRIDGE RECORDS SECOND TWO-HITTER IN A ROW NORTHRIDGE 4, RANCHO S.D. 1.

Byline: Gerry Gittelson Staff Writer

LA PUENTE - First it was Northridge Little League's impressive hitting that brought attention to the 11- and 12-year-olds.

Now closing in on their third All-Star baseball tournament championship, the team's pitching is carrying them through.

Left-hander Casey Fry pitched a two-hitter with 14 strikeouts to defeat Rancho San Diego 4-1 in the second round of the Southern California Divisionals on Sunday at La Puente Park.

Fry's performance - which marked the first time he ever has pitched a six-inning complete game - came on the heels of Joshua Reece's two-hit, 13-strikeout effort in Saturday's shutout victory over Rancho Buena Vista of San Diego.

District 51/Section 2-champion Northridge (10-1) has one more pool-play matchup at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against West Yorba Linda in La Puente. The Southern California Divisional championship game is Wednesday night; the winner advances to the Western Regionals in San Bernardino, a qualifier for the annual Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

Fry (1-1) has struck out 20 in his past eight innings. Meanwhile, Reece is 4-0 with a 0.63 ERA (per six innings), 38 strikeouts and four hits allowed in 19 innings.

``I feel very good,'' Fry said.

Fry was at his best under pressure Sunday. With Rancho San Diego ahead 1-0 with the bases loaded and two out in the top of third, Fry struck out cleanup hitter John Tastad to minimize the damage. In the fifth, Rancho San Diego (9-2) was down 2-1 but had runners on first and second with two out and its top slugger, Jeff Lawrence, at the plate. Fry struck out Lawrence to end the inning, then struck out three in a row in the sixth to clinch the victory.

``Casey Fry came through with some incredible clutch pitching,'' Northridge manager Jonathan Gluck said. ``We're lucky to have him and Joshua Reece. They're both incredibly polished 12-year-olds.''

Reece's RBI grounder drove in Josh Efron for the go-ahead run in the third. Pinch-hitter Jonathan Shields added a home run over the center-field fence in the sixth, followed by an RBI single by Reece three batters later.

``That pitch was almost at my eyes but I just swung at it,'' Shields said. ``Then it went over the fence and I was all happy.''

Right-hander Ryan O'Sullivan (2-1) took the loss. He allowed four earned runs, seven hits and no walks in five innings.

Northridge, which lost in the Southern California Divisionals last year in Manhattan Beach, has appeared in three World Series, qualifying in 1968, 1975 and 1994.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 29, 2002
Words:423
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