Bernard goes yard…
a record three times
By David Graham-Caso
The West Champions out of Chandler, AZ are
ready for the single elimination round.
Coming into Tuesday’s primetime match-up
with Eldridge, IA, the Chandler team was undefeated and assured first
place in Pool B play. That is not to say that they changed their
aggressive style of play against Iowa. Cory Bernard, in fact, stepped
it up a notch.
Bernard homered a Little League World Series record three times, once
to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, in Chandler’s 8-7
come-from-behind victory over Iowa.
“It is great being part of history,” he
said. “I just wanted to get here, to be able to do that is really
Chandler did not lead until Iowa pitcher Michael Cranson beaned
Bernard with the bases full in the bottom of the seventh inning to end
first batter of the game, centerfielder Elliot Schlabach immediately
got Iowa on the board. After taking a foul ball off the thigh, the
lefty drove a 0-2 pitch 246 feet to the opposite field, putting Iowa
was not yet done with Arizona starter Tim Fowler. Fowler surrendered
five hits in the first inning, facing a total of 11 Eldridge batters.
Iowa’s five-run inning was attributable to three consecutive RBI
singles from the middle of the order.
Blake Anderson drove
in Greg Daniels with a seeing-eye single with one out before an
infield single by Cody Ashby knocked in Matt Peterson. Cranson was
next at the plate, and he, too, followed suit. Cranson hammered a
Fowler fastball over the head of centerfielder Trever Benjamin for yet
another RBI single.
the inning by striking out Schlabach and nabbing a Daniels liner.
“That is the toughest inning that we have
faced as a team,” said Chandler Manager Eddie Malone.
The bottom of the first inning also
contained an offensive spectacle. With a man on first, Bernard crushed
a Petersen pitch 210-feet, over the centerfield fence to bring Arizona
to within three runs.
“I was not that impressed with Cory
tonight,” Malone said. “I know what these kids can do.”
The first inning ended with an Aaron
Hardenburg groundout, only 40 minutes after the first pitch of the
inning was thrown.
The West got three more runs back in their
half of the second. With one out, Justin Rosales knocked a two-run
shot to center. Two batters later Bernard sent a screaming line drive
over the center field fence. Bernard’s second round-tripper in as many
at-bats tied the game at 5-5.
“I didn’t panic when we went down,” Malone
said. “I just watched how we reacted, and I was pleased with how we
The score stayed deadlocked until the fourth. Schlabach slid into home
safely, darting home on a passed ball, and Petersen added another run
with a RBI double to center.
West came inches
away from its sixth run in the bottom of the fourth. Bernard was on
third when Petersen threw a ball in the dirt, which hopped by catcher
Benjamin. Bernard broke for home, but Benjamin flipped the ball to
Petersen, who was able to get his glove in front of the sliding
Bernard. The out was the last of the fourth.
Arizona again threatened in the fifth
inning, loading the bases with no outs. Petersen again eluded
catastrophe. The Iowa ace struck out back-to-back batters and then
induced Justin Rosales to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the
West finally capitalized on a chance to tie the game in their
potential final at bat. It was Bernard one more time, coming through
for his club with yet another blast, this one a two-run dinger that
evened the score at 7-7 and sent the game into extra frames.
“Bernard is a great player,” said Iowa
manager Paul Tremmel. “He is a natural hitter.”
Bernard came up in the seventh with a
chance to win the game for Arizona. With the bases full and the
pressure mounting, Iowa pitcher Cranston beaned Bernard, forcing in
the winning run.
Bernard’s three home runs are the most in
one game by a single player since Tetsuya Furukawa hit three for
Kashima, Japan in 1998. Chih Hsiang Lin also hit three in 1995 for
Chinese Taipei, and Roger Miller belted three homeruns for Tuckhoe, VA