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Chicago tops Philly, heads to RBI Series final

White Sox to face Arizona on Friday; Phillies, Rays to meet in Junior Division championship
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- As David Barboza warmed up in the bullpen before Thursday's game, Chicago White Sox RBI's pitching coach, Vince Davis, watched his starting pitcher snap off a few curveballs before heading right back to the dugout. That was all he needed to see.

"His curveball is going to be disgusting today," Davis reported back to Chicago head coach Marcus Rodgers.

MINNEAPOLIS -- As David Barboza warmed up in the bullpen before Thursday's game, Chicago White Sox RBI's pitching coach, Vince Davis, watched his starting pitcher snap off a few curveballs before heading right back to the dugout. That was all he needed to see.

"His curveball is going to be disgusting today," Davis reported back to Chicago head coach Marcus Rodgers.

Barboza's curveball was indeed nearly unhittable as he handcuffed Philadelphia Phillies RBI all afternoon and led Chicago to an 11-5 semifinal win at Parade Stadium in the senior bracket of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series. Backed by a talented lineup that delivered five runs in both the fifth and sixth innings, the White Sox are headed to the World Series final and will face Arizona RBI at 11:30 a.m. ET on Friday at the University of Minnesota's Siebert Field.

"David was amazing," Rodgers said. "He's been like that the entire season. He gets up there and pounds the strike zone. That helps us a ton, because we don't have a ton of arms. We have some quality arms, we just don't have a ton of arms."

Barboza finished with six strikeouts over six innings, allowing just one hit and one earned run. He often used his fastball and changeup to get ahead in the count before coming back with a devastating backdoor curveball to finish off at-bats.

He's been crafting the pitch since he was 11 years old, and got help developing it -- as well as the rest of the pitching repertoire -- from his brother, Samson Barboza, who is two years older than him and also plays for the White Sox.

"My brother taught me, like, everything I know pitching-wise," David Barboza said. "He's been teaching me ever since I was young. He taught me my changeup and how to quick-pitch, like Johnny Cueto. That's what we're known for."

Over the first three innings, the younger Barboza held the Phillies hitless and registered the final out of each inning by striking a Philadelphia batter out looking. On all three occasions, he froze the opposing batter with a curveball.

"I've always been confident in my curveball," David Barboza said. "That's been my main pitch forever. I would always throw it in 3-2 counts and knew I could get a strike. I love being able to buckle somebody with it."

For the first four innings, Phillies starter Carter Davis kept the White Sox offense in check as well. He nearly escaped a third-inning jam unscathed when Philadelphia left fielder Alexander Johnson threw out a Chicago runner at the plate for the second out of the inning. But one batter later, Kendall Pettis doubled and scored Michael Bolton to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.

In the fifth, Davis wasn't so lucky. With two outs and runners on first and second, he induced a popup that could have ended the inning. But a Philadelphia error allowed it to fall in shallow right field, and two White Sox runners came around to score to extend the lead to 3-0. The inning unraveled from there, and by the time the Phillies recorded the third out, it was 6-0.

Philadelphia got three runs back in the sixth as Barboza's pitch count reached the low 90s, but he stranded three more Phillies runners when he induced a bases-loaded groundout to end the inning.

The Phillies tacked on two more runs in the seventh, but at that point it was too little, too late to overcome Chicago's early offensive explosion. Bolton went 3-for-4 and scored three times, and Jeffrey Massey, Chicago's No. 9 hitter, went 3-for-3 with an RBI.

"That's a better team right there," Phillies' head coach Steve Bandura said. "That's a hell of a team. They hit up and down the lineup. They stay back on the curve; they're really well-coached and they're really good athletes. They deserve to be in the championship game."

Monday was a bit of a rivalry renewed for the two teams; Chicago and Philadelphia met in last summer's Junior Division RBI World Series final in Cincinnati. While not every player from that game was on the field on Thursday, both squads had a handful of players who had played in the title game.

"The Phillies got us in the championship game last year," Rodgers said. "A few of our guys were there for that, and they kind of had a bitter taste in their mouth. They wanted to come out and make sure that that didn't happen again."

Arizona RBI 10, Austin RBI 5 -- Siebert Field

Arizona clinched a spot in the final and will face off with the White Sox on Friday. Justin Flebbe launched a third-inning grand slam to bust the game open for Arizona, and Michael Quinones went 2-for-4 and scored twice. Alfred Worden III went 2-for-3 with three RBIs for Austin.

Junior Division semifinals
Phillies RBI 11, White Sox RBI 3 -- Neiman Athletic Complex

The Phillies and White Sox junior squads collided for a semifinal matchup as well, with the Phillies prevailing thanks to a quick start. Philadelphia tossed three runs on the board in both the first and second innings to put the game away early. Jonathan Batista went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and scored three times out of the cleanup spot. Karim Mullen tossed 5 1/3 innings of one-hit ball as he held Chicago scoreless. For the White Sox, Noah Smith and Zamaurion Hatcher each collected two hits, and Luke Hanson drove in two runs.

Tampa RBI 10, Arizona RBI 9 -- Neiman Athletic Complex

De'Mario Williams delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh to send the Rays to Friday's championship game. Williams' single scored Douglas Thompson and Dontavious Johnson. The big hit capped off a stellar game for Williams, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs out of the leadoff spot. For Arizona, Alain Camou went 2-for-4 and drove home a pair of runs.

Jarrid Denney is a contributor to MLB.com