Getting the Last-ra word
Merrell’s sixth-inning homer ties it, Lastra’s seventh-inning homer
wins it for Tampa
By Dustin Picciolo
Tampa, Florida was facing as much adversity as any team could
face in its pool-play finale.
In a do-or-die game with the winner moving on to the semi-final
round, Tampa was trailing 2-1 in the top of the six, down to their
final two outs against Shelton, Connecticut.
And then…Tampa shortstop Kevin Merrell stepped up, and tied the game
with one swing of the bat, taking a Tyler Tice offering over the
left-field wall. In the seventh, Tampa first baseman Danny Lastra
hit a leadoff homer to centerfield to break the tie and start a
six-run rally, as Florida outlasted Connecticut, 8-2, in front of
11,600 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
Florida’s next game will be Thursday night against the winner of
U.S. Pool A.
“Once one guy does something, they all start doing it,” said
Florida’s manager Joe McGuire when asked about the seventh inning.
But it really started in the sixth with Merrell’s home run.
“That was the biggest hit of the game,” said McGuire. “The rest
wouldn’t have happened without it.”
Runs were scarce early on for both teams as they both had only one
hit though three innings.
Florida’s Wyatt Reid and Connecticut’s Tyler Tice started the game,
and Reid faced just one batter over the minimum through three while
Tice faced the minimum.
Merrell’s double leading off the fourth gave Florida their first hit
of the game. Two outs and two strikes later, a single through the
right side by Lastra plated special pinch runner Daniel Martin to
give Tampa a 1-0 lead.
Connecticut battled back as Jason Hafele came into the game as a
pinch hitter in the bottom of the fourth, and delivered an infield
RBI single that tied it at 1-1.
Connecticut later took the lead in the bottom of the fifth, as Tyler
Tice singled in the go-ahead run in Matt Stoll, who pinch ran for
Anthony Searles after a double to right field to start off the
Things looked good for Connecticut going into the sixth before
Knowing his team has two days off, McGuire said, “Maybe we’ll put
them on a bus and go to New York or something. Watch a Yankee game.”
In all, Florida has a reason to celebrate knowing they have advanced
to the semi-final round.
McGuire said, “To be one of the top four teams in the United States,
I’ll take that.”
© 2008, Little League Baseball
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