Already having a strong day in the batter's box, Franklin Square catcher Michael Castel made a key defensive play late in the game. Castel (3-for-4 with an RBI) made a diving catch in foul territory in the seventh inning with the tying run on base, as East Region champion Franklin Square defeated the West (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), 3-2, in the opening game of the Junior League Baseball World Series in Taylor, Mich., yesterday afternoon.

"It's a great start," Franklin Square coach Jimmy O'Connell said. "We played a powerful California lineup who run-ruled four out of five teams in their region. I'm proud of my kids."

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Robert Kelley struck out four with three walks, allowed two runs on four hits in six innings and got the win for Franklin Square, which continues its round-robin play at 8 p.m. Tuesday against Central (North Canton, Ohio). Kelley worked out of a jam with two runners on in the sixth and moved to play second base in the seventh.

Castel made his flashy play after a leadoff single in the seventh and the game ended on a double play from shortstop Michael Catanese (who had an RBI in the second), to Kelley to first baseman Anthony Catapano.

"I told them to enjoy this because this is the greatest experience of their young lives," O'Connell said. "They get to enjoy this today and tonight. We practice [Monday] and we're back to business Tuesday."