Richmond, Texas rolls again to get back to U.S. semifinal for
second straight year
Last year, the Lamar
National Little League from Richmond, Texas was eliminated in the
United States semifinal by Saugus, Mass. in a thrilling 14-13
Randal Grichuk is the
only returning player from that team. But have the Richmond
All-Stars all taken the loss very personally?
“I think it’s pretty
obvious when these guys hit the field,” said Texas manager (both
years) Jim Michalek, “it’s all business.”
Whichever is the case,
the Southwest squad is taking no such chances so far this year, as
they completed a ridiculous run through Pool B Tuesday, again
displaying a deep offense and stellar pitching in a 13-1 win over
Preston, Md. before 11,300 fans at Lamade Stadium.
Texas (3-0) banged out
12 hits and won its third straight game by at least 10 runs,
finishing pool play having outscored its opponents 43-10.
something,” Michalek said. “These are good kids, good players.
They’re used to contributing somehow, someway, and I think they
did it again.”
Starting pitcher Matt
Daniels did it again, in more than one way. The righty’s curveball
was in rare form Tuesday, as he allowed just two hits in the
complete-game effort while striking out 12 for his second win of
pool play. He also went 3-for-4 with four RBIs (he has eight this
week) and a game-breaking two-run homer (his second this week).
“He was pitching
awesome,” said catcher Dan Homann. “He only missed one or two of
his spots, and his curveball was working really well.”
“I’m just glad I’m on
his team,” Grichuk added.
While Daniels dazzled,
the Texans pounced on Maryland starter Davonta DeShields in the
top of the first with a pair of clutch two-out hits. After Cody
Abraham walked and Grichuk took one for the team (off the helmet),
Tyler Ford’s two-out line drive to right snuck all the way to the
wall, scoring both runners and sending Ford to third. Daniels then
rapped an 0-2 offering to left for a base hit, bringing in Ford.
“It’s always important
[to jump ahead early],” Michalek said. “I thought today maybe even
more so. I thought their guy on the hill was throwing hard … I
felt like we needed to respond in a hurry.”
That’s what DeShields
did in the bottom of the first when he sliced into the lead with
his solo home run off the retaining fence beyond the left field
wall. But that was the only run the Mid-Atlantic could muster all
“I wanted to show that
home runs don’t really bother me that much,” Daniels said. “That
particular one – it’s one hit and only one run. It didn’t hurt
By the top of the
third, when Richmond all but put it out of reach, it didn’t hurt
at all. Joey Scheurich led off with a walk and scurried to third
on a pair of wild pitches. Grichuk knocked him in with a base hit,
but was then thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
Later in the frame,
Daniel Homann singled, then after a fielder’s choice, Daniels
drilled his second home run in South Williamsport.
“[Hitting home runs]
is not really a secret,” Daniels said. “All you have to do is if
you hit it at the correct point of contact, you get it at the
right trajectory in the air, it’ll go.”
It really started to
go for Southwest in the sixth, when Richmond banged out seven more
runs on five hits – an inning that could end up eliminating
Maryland if it comes down to the tiebreaker. DeShields hit three
of the first five batters of the inning, and was then lifted.
he came out, Grichuk whacked his third hit of the game (this week
he’s 7-for-10 with seven runs scored and seven RBIs), while
Daniels drilled an RBI double and Steven Crawford capped the
inning with a run-scoring single.
“We knew keeping the
run total down was the key to getting to the next round,” said
Mid-Atlantic manager Curtis Payne. “We just were unable to do it.”
Maryland’s day was
epitomized by a pitch to DeShields in the last of the sixth, when
Daniels’ pitch sailed behind the batter, but nicked his bat for a
But the loss and its
1-2 record, the Mid-Atlantic squad still has a shot to advance to
a U.S. semifinal on Thursday. If the Great Lakes team from
Owensboro, Ky. can earn its first win of the week tonight against
1-1 Redmond, Wash., there would be a three-way tie for second
place that would come down to run differential.
“I think we need
Kentucky to win, but we need Washington to score four more runs
against them,” Payne said. “With [Owensboro ace Cole Sturgeon] on
the mound, that’s gonna be a really tough chore.”
Richmond doesn’t have
to worry about any of that. They’ll have another shot in a U.S.
semifinal – against Morganton, N.C. Wednesday (8 p.m., Lamade) –
after last year’s devastating defeat.
“From my vantage
point, you’d always prefer to get a little bit further down the
road than you did the year before,” Michalek said. “I would like
to have a good showing at the [U.S. semifinal], but candidly, it’s
only because if you don’t do that, you can’t play for the World
Series Championship. And that’s why we came here.”
So it turns out it’s
not personal for Richmond. It’s strictly business..
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