Game 9
Southeast 3 vs. Mid-Atlantic 1

Saturday, August 20, 2005
8:00PM ET
Lamade Stadium

 
Early Bird Special for Florida
Maitland notches second win in as many days in pool play


By Nick Williams

With the majority of the crowd of 18,300 fans—the most so far in this year’s Little League Baseball World Series—cheering on Newtown, Pennsylvania, manager Sid Cash of Maitland, Florida knew his team had to strike early.

“We knew their fans wanted to get loud, and were going to get loud,” Cash said.

With the crowd in their minds—not to mention their ears—Dante Bichette Jr. and the rest of his teammates delivered, scoring two runs in the first inning en route to a 3-1 victory.

With one out in the bottom of the first, Bichette smoked Newtown pitcher Darren Lauer’s offering off the top of the wall marked by yellow padding in left-center field, just missing a home run. The ball was hit so hard that Bichette was held to only a single.

Maitland starting pitcher Skip Kovar followed by hitting a hard bouncer that caromed off the glove of first baseman Greg Guers for a base hit. After a walk to Mike Tomlinson, Lee Dunnam hit a rocket similar to Bichette’s that hit off the yellow portion of the wall in left field for a double, knocking in two runs to give Maitland an early 2-0 lead.

“Those two runs to start with were so important because those fans really wanted to get into it,” Cash said.

The early runs not only quieted the crowd, but also gave Kovar a lead to settle into.

“We gave Skip a cushion and something he could wok with and relax and not be as tense,” Dunnam said.

After allowing two singles in the first inning, Kovar settled down and gave up only one hit over the next three frames while striking out four.

“I got a little nervous at first then my teammates started to pump me up,” the righthander said. “I just tried to calm myself down and relax, and hit my targets.”

Kovar was finally touched for a run in the top of the fifth. Newtown opened the inning with three straight singles by Michael Festa, Greg Guers, and Dave Pine to load the bases. Blaine Lezynski hit a fielder’s choice to second that drove in Festa and left runners at the corners with two outs, but Kovar got Daniel Denton to ground out to third to end the threat, with only one run scored despite the three base hits.

“We out hit them 8-4, we just didn’t get the clutch hits when we needed them,” said Newtown skipper Bill Hartley.

In the bottom of the inning, with the Newtown fans getting back into it after the local boys cut the lead in half, Bichette stepped to the plate, again looking to deliver and silence the crowd.

The Maitland slugger did deliver, hitting his second home run in as many days, a lined shot that made it over the bushes that line the chain link fence past the bullpen in leftfield.

“The crowd was cheering as loud as I’ve heard it in this tournament,” Bichette said. “I just told myself to me calm, wait for the pitch I want. I wanted it, hit it, and hit it out of the park.”

Sending with it the hopes of the Newtown team and the voices of the thousands in attendance.

Game Photos


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