Anthony Miller was stone cold serious on the mound.
The Youngstown, Ohio, starting pitcher didn't show any emotion when cruising through the opening three innings without allowing a hit. When he did surrender his first hit, a seeing-eye single up the middle, and committed an error by sending a pickoff throw into right field, he remained emotionless.
Miller went back to what worked, putting his foot in front of the pitching rubber, rearing back and continuing to blow the baseball past hitters.
The team from Guasave, Mexico, had no answers.
In an early pitcher's duel with Ezequiel Perez, Miller and the Host Area champion Youngstown blanked Guasave, 6-0, in a Pony League World Series game Friday night at Lew Hays Pony Field.
The win advances Youngstown to a winners' bracket game Monday (5:30 p.m.). It will play the winner of today's game between nine-time champion Chinese Taipei and Arecibo, Puerto Rico, which made its series' debut Friday in a victory over Hagerstown, Md. Guasave falls to the losers' bracket and will play Hagerstown in an elimination game Sunday (3:30 p.m.).
"I asked for the ball," Miller said. "My coach knew I wanted it. It was a no-brainer."
The two demonstrative reactions Miller did make came on inning-ending outs in the fourth and fifth innings, which also denied the best scoring chances for Guasave.
With a 1-0 lead in the fourth, Miller stranded the game-tying run at third base by handcuffing a batter with an inside slider for the final out. The one-run lead stayed intact one inning later as Youngstown right fielder Luca Bertolasio threw out Johan Lopez trying to score on an opposite-field single from Jose Alvarez.
"When we have big plays like that, it really just sets the tone," Miller said. "I have much more confidence going forward because I know my defense has my back."
Miller was pulled after exceeding the pitch limit when he issued a walk to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. He went five innings, allowed two hits and struck out 10 before Stephen Tarnoci entered in relief and kept the shutout by stranding Guasave runners at second and third.
The two Youngstown pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.
Jarrod Malagise provided separation on the scoreboard for Youngstown as he launched a two-run homer to right field to take a 3-0 lead in the sixth. Youngstown then added three more insurance runs in the seventh on a sacrifice bunt, which led to a throwing error, scoring on a wild pitch and an opposite-field single from Ben Slanker to lead 6-0.
Youngstown first took the lead when Bertolasio hit an RBI single up the middle to score Nick Leasure in the third inning.
"We knew it was going to be a barn-burner," Youngstown coach Scott Ruark said. "The biggest thing was getting that first run so we could relax a little bit. We were amped up tonight."
Perez went 6 1/3 innings, gave up six hits, five runs (three earned) and struck out 13 for Guasave.
"Their pitcher threw an outstanding game," Ruark said. "But Anthony is our guy. He is our best. He is something special."