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Walsh blanks California side in Babe Ruth series opener

Onondaga begins title defense with 5-0 win

Three airports and one long bus ride later, the Onondaga All-Stars found themselves at their place of destination - Andaluisa, near Alabama's Gulf coast - and quickly set out to remind all possible challengers that it will not be easy wresting the 16-18 Babe Ruth World Series title from them.

With Westhill ace Ben Walsh dominating on the mound, Onondaga defeated San Benito (Calif.) by a 5-0 margin Thursday morning in the first of four games of pool play that will take place over the next five days.

In all, 10 teams are in the Babe Ruth World Series, divided into two divisions, the American and National, with Onondaga part of the American division.

They will each play the four pool games, and then six advance to elimination round, with division winners getting a bye into next Wednesday's semifinals. The championship game is set for next Thursday, Aug. 22, at 6 p.m.

Just to reach Andalusia required a roundabout journey through the American heartland. American Airlines provided transportation for all of the tournament's teams, but that required the Onondaga side to start in Syracuse, fly to Chicago, and then fly to Dallas/Fort Worth in order to get to Birmingham, from where they took a three-hour bus ride to the tournament site.

At least Onondaga avoided having to sleep in an airport overnight, as one of the other teams, from Columbia Basin (Wash.), had to do in Dallas/Fort Worth before they arrived in town.

As it worked out, Onondaga played the very first game of the tournament against another team that traveled a long way, from California. And it had Walsh ready to deliver another gem.

In seven innings of work, Walsh did not allow a walk and struck out nine San Benito batters. Only in the third inning did Walsh face any sort of stress, as San Benito got runners on first and third before a pick-off and strikeout snuffed out the challenge.

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