Great Lakes champ Illinois
claims No. 1 seed from Pool A with 2-0 win over Georgia
By Allie Weinberger
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
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.
© 2006, Little League Baseball
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