Game 17
Southwest 0
 vs. New England 5

Monday, August 21, 2006
3:00PM ET


Plays at Home Spark New Hampshire
New England Advances Behind Bean’s Arm

By Brandon Miller
Special Correspondent

It was an elimination game at Lamade Stadium when the Portsmouth (N.H.) Little League All-Stars took on the South Lake Charles All-Stars from Louisiana. Ultimately, the Portsmouth Little League team from the New England Region prevailed 5-0 in a game much closer than the score indicated.

New Hampshire pitcher Jordan Bean continued his Little League Baseball World Series dominance picking up his second win in two tries as he shut down South Lake Charles, allowing only two hits over six innings, striking out 12.

“This was not Jordan’s best performance, but as you can see, Jordan is the gutsiest kid I know,” said Portsmouth manager Mark McCauley. “He absolutely goes to entirely another level. It’s his heart and his head that really gets him through all this.”

Coming into the game, Bean’s game plan was to, “pitch strikes, don’t give up a lot of walks, and stay around the strike zone. Nothing wild. Let the defense make the play like they did all game.”

And the defense did step up when it needed to. In the fourth, South Lake Charles pinch hitter Hunter Ford drew a leadoff walk and was followed by a single by pinch hitter Jordan Karam. An error by the centerfielder put runners at second and third with nobody out and Taylor Butler coming to the plate.

Bean let loose a wild pitch and Ford attempted to score, but was thrown out at home on a flip from catcher Connor McCauley to Bean.

“It took a good hop off the backstop and came right to me,” said McCauley. “As soon as I threw it to Jordan I knew he was dead.”

With Karam advancing to third on the play, the next batter grounded the ball to third base. Karam broke for home on contact and was thrown out on another close play at the plate.

“(Feeney) makes a nice play going to his left and spins back and throws it home, makes a good strike and the catcher blocks the plate,” said South Lake Charles manager Josh Corman. “I really felt like if we’d have scored there that would have been a big difference.”

A strikeout later and the inning was over with a 0-0 tie still in effect.

“I did feel good about our chances as we got into the later innings because we were making solid contact,” said manager McCauley. “I felt that going into the bottom of that fifth inning if we could just get to the top of our order…eventually when you’re hitting the ball like that you’re going to find some holes, and that’s what you saw.”

With the momentum shifted, New Hampshire was able to break it open in the bottom of the fifth when a walk, three hits and two errors scored five runs.

“We went back to playing Portsmouth baseball today,” said manager McCauley whose team committed seven errors yesterday, but managed to bounce back with a solid defensive effort in this game. “We have a saying that ‘regardless of whether you hit a home run or you just made a mental or physical error, its history channel.’”

The game-winning hit came off the bat of Matthew Feeney when he singled in the first run of the game.

“It just felt good cause that was a timely hit right there,” said Feeney. “I’ve been kind of waiting for a good key hit like that.”

“Matty’s a good enough hitter, plus a number three hitter, he bats behind Jordan. That’s a tall task because a lot of teams will pitch around Jordan,” said manager McCauley of Feeney’s offensive skills.

South Lake Charles showed their defensive prowess in the third when shortstop Matt Gallier chased down a ball in the hole behind second base, made a spin, and completed the highlight reel play with a strong throw to first to record the out.

The defense stepped up again in the fourth when a leadoff single was wiped out with a 5-4-3 double play, prompting South Lake Charles pitcher Nick Zaunbrecher to get high fives from everyone in the infield.

“That was about some of the best defense, if not the best defense, we’ve ever played (against),” said manager McCauley.

South Lake Charles ends the tournament having played their hearts out and enjoying the run the entire way.

“It was really, really special, for all the kids,” said manager Corman. “I don’t think the kids will realize it until we get home. They’re going to realize that it was something else.”

Corman, who will be leaving his hometown of Lake Charles after the tournament to coach high school baseball in Zachary, La., could not say enough about the experience and what the team has meant to him.

“That’s going to be something special when those guys are 30 and 40 years old and I’m an old man and we can get together and say ‘this is what we did. We did something here.’ I will miss the players on this team.”

Corman also wanted to thank his wife, Jennifer, for her support over the past five years while he coached and spent time away from home.

“We were so entirely focused on this ballgame that we didn’t allow ourselves to get beyond it, so we’ll have a day to regroup and we’ll figure out who we’re going to throw either Wednesday or Thursday,” said manager McCauley.



 


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