rides Bichette to opening win
Dante Bichette Jr. and Co. earn come-from-behind victory
against Williamsport veterans from Davenport
By Mark Rogoff
With a full moon in the sky and an inferno on the mound,
the Maitland mites of the Southeast region didn’t seem
to mind the dandy veterans from Davenport.
Dante Bichette Jr. tossed a complete game, scored the
go-ahead run on a bad throw after a wild pitch in the
fifth, and crushed a three-run homer in the sixth to put
the game out of reach, as the Southeast champs from
Maitland, Florida picked up a 7-3 win over Davenport,
Facing a team with a pair of 12-year-olds who played in
last year’s South Williamsport tourney – Brody Grothus
and Kyle Franklin – didn’t faze Bichette. In fact, the
righthander wasn’t even aware Davenport was sporting the
“I didn’t even know they were here last year,” said
Bichette. “I just threw the way I normally throw.”
The righthander was virtually unhittable after being
touched by a Ryan Shumaker three-run homer in the first.
He allowed the first three batters he faced to reach and
then retired 12 of the next 14 batters, striking out the
side in the first and third innings.
Bichette allowed only two hits the rest of the way after
the home run, one after the first inning.
“I kept my composure very well,” he said. “I was able to
settle down by taking deep breaths. I kept pitches in
the spots I wanted them to be. I did a pretty good job
Maitland trailed 3-2 going in the fifth, when Max Moroff
and Bichette led things off with back-to-back base
hits. After two quick outs, they both advanced a base
on a wild pitch during Lee Dunnam's at-bat. Then on
another wild pitch, Moroff scored from third and
Bichette advanced to third. The throw to the plate from
catcher Austin Smith got by the covering Shumaker,
allowing Bichette to score as well to put his team up
He then had to work himself out of
trouble in the bottom of the fifth with the 4-3 lead.
He walked the first two hitters, and then got a force
out at second on Spencer Malonee’s fielder’s choice
grounder. After Malonee advanced to second on a
defensive indifference, Bichette threw a wild pitch past
catcher Kyle Hamner. Davenport’s Eric Weiman, who led
off the inning, tried to score, but Hamner threw a
strike to Bichette at the plate for the tag. Shumaker
then grounded to third for the final out with the tying
run at third.
“That was the pivotal point in the game in my opinion,”
said Davenport skipper Jeff Mallonee. “[Eric] just
misjudged it. And that’s one of the best defensive
catchers you’ll see out here. He is a great baserunner.
We just got an unlucky bounce. I don’t regret him
After five innings of play, the one-run game quickly
became a four-run contest in the top of the sixth.
Shumaker had runners on first and second with two outs
and a 3-2 count on Bichette before giving up the blast
that went over the wall in right-center field.
Shumaker was pulled from the game after the homer in
favor of Franklin, who got Skip Kovar to line out to
right for the inning’s final out.
Shumaker had allowed a run in the top of the first and
escaped a bigger inning by getting Tanner Stanley to pop
out to shortstop Grothus in shallow left field with the
That momentum parlayed into the bottom of the first,
when Shumaker hit a towering three-run homer down the
left field line after Grothus doubled to lead off and
Kovar, who belted a pair of home runs in the Southeast
regional tournament, cut the deficit to 3-2 in the third
with a solo homer on a 2-2 offering from Shumaker.
“We have been down two runs seven or eight times in our
nine wins,” said Maitland manager Sid Cash. “The fifth
inning is kind of our inning. We just felt very good
about our chances. Our hitting usually takes over.”
That hitting will next appear Saturday evening against
the Mid-Atlantic champs from Newtown, PA. Davenport,
meanwhile, takes Saturday off before returning to action
Sunday against Hawaii.
© 2005, Little League Baseball
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