Game 24
Great Lakes  
2 vs. Southeast
0

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
8:00PM ET


They’re Grrrreat!
Great Lakes champ Illinois claims No. 1 seed from Pool A with 2-0 win over Georgia

By Allie Weinberger
Special Coorespondent

Illinois knew just how important it was to start Tuesday night’s game against Georgia off right. A loss would eliminate the Great Lakes region champs from the 2006 Little League Baseball World Series. But with just one run allowed in its previous two matchups, a win over the Southeast champs would boost Illinois from 1-1 to No. 1 in Pool A.

So Lemont Little League came out firing.

Hurler Josh Ferry struck out six of the first seven batters he faced and 13 overall en route to a complete-game one-hitter while the offense scored two early runs in the second, as Illinois held on for a 2-0 win.

With the win, Illinois pulled even with the Arizona and Georgia with 2-1 records in Pool A play. By allowing just 0.052 runs per defensive inning, Illinois claims the No. 1 seed, leaving the final Pool A slot open for Georgia, who beat Arizona head-to-head, 4-1.

Illinois takes on Oregon in a U.S. semifinal Wednesday at Lamade Stadium. Georgia will face off against New Hampshire in the other U.S. semifinal on Thursday.

In the second inning, Jeff Worsech capitalized on a throwing error by first baseman Kyle Carter to put the first run on the board in the second. Austin Mastela wasn’t far behind, crossing the plate thanks to a Michael Hall single laced over the head of the Georgia shortstop.

Ferry piled up the strikeouts in commanding fashion over six full frames, striking out the side in the first, throwing 54 of his 75 pitches for strikes and letting up just one hit (a Brady Hamilton single in the third).

“I could tell from that first inning,” said Great Lakes manager Mike Hall. “He’s got that giddy-up in his fastball.

“He’s the best player at this tournament right here. There’s no doubt about it. He’s blood and guts.”

Georgia got into the defensive game in a big way in the top of the third, when a fielder’s choice took out the lead runner and Stallings gloved a hard one-hopper hit down the third baseline to keep the bases empty for Chris Stoeberl. Not to be overshadowed by Ferry, Georgia’s Kyle Rovig took care of him handily, fanning the clean-up man for the second time in as many innings.

Then came the top of the sixth. Just three more outs is all the Lemont Little League needed to assure themselves the top spot. First up, Ryan Lang. A grounder to short – one out. Matthew Hollis hit another easy grounder, this time to second.

With one out left, Carter, 0-for-2 on the day with the game’s only error to his name, steps to the plate. Ferry pegs him. Josh Lester came up next, and after four straight balls trotted to first. Ferry’s teammates came in to reassure the hurler.

“They said there were two outs,” Ferry recalled. “Just throw how you know how to throw and we’ll win.”

So with runners on first and second and the go-ahead at the plate, Ferry did just that. Georgia slugger Cody Walker, sporting a .400 batting average before going 0-for-3, ended the game by striking out on a 1-2 pitch.

“We all know Josh,” said the younger Hall. “He’s got the biggest heart on the team. He’s the leader, and we knew that he can just finish the game off. We knew he would win the game for us.”

“I liked my chances,” said Georgia manager Randy Morris. “We got two outs, two runners on – we’re up 3-2 on one swing. Cody’s been hitting well this tournament, he just didn’t hit well tonight. None of us did.”

Rovig finished the night allowing just two hits and one earned run while striking out six.



 


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