Game 4: New England 1 vs. Southwest 10

Cardone Swings Twice

Author: Gabe Hiatt

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Friday, August 21, 2009, 8:00pm ET

The night lights of Howard J. Lamade Stadium shined down on Steven Cardone in the top of the third inning. The shortstop from San Antonio, Texas stepped up to the plate and saw three of his McAllister Park American Little League teammates on base.

In the thick of a pitcher’s duel against the New England Region champions, Peabody Western Little League, he desperately wanted a hit, any hit. The cameras were focused on him, and the inside pitch came bearing down.

He took a cut, and the ball leaped off his bat out to left field and climbed and climbed and climbed…. just left of the foul pole.

“I was just trying to make contact,” Cardone said. “I was like, ‘he’s not going to throw me another inside pitch,’ so I was looking outside.”

He tattooed the inevitable outside pitch for a three-run double. His hit turned out to be as profitable as a grand slam when he advanced to score on infield errors putting his team ahead, 4-0. His timely hit sparked McAllister’s two inning, 10-run offensive surge that ultimately led to the Southwest Region champion’s victory, 10-1 over Peabody.

The bases wouldn’t have been loaded if not for an error by Peabody.
“We had two outs. We made a mistake in the field, and they scored… four runs,” Peabody manager David Batchelor said.

McAllister’s infield was guilty of only one error, helping Travis Daves pitch a complete game.

“He didn’t get behind too many batters,” Batchelor said. “He threw strikes. He made us put the ball in play. They made all the plays on defense.”

McAllister manager Mike Shull knew all season his defense was capable of performing at this level.

“I believe we had the highest fielding percentage in the Southwestern region,” he said. “We challenge them with some interesting drills. I think it’s paid off.”

While both starting pitchers were stellar — Daves allowed only one walk and his Peabody counterpart, Austin Batchelor, fanned seven betters — the infield play separated the clubs. Half of the runs Batchelor yielded were unearned.

After the four-run third inning for McAllister, Peabody countered when second baseman Michael Petrosino scored a run in the top of the fourth.

But miscues by Peabody allowed too many McAllister men on base. They made Peabody pay for their mistakes, especially right fielder Jacob Ramos, who highlighted his 2-for-3 night with a three-run home run.

“I saw the runners on base and I really wanted to get a hit,” Ramos said.
“I was just looking for a pitch that I could crush.”

His manager could only respond with jumps of jubilation as he cheered his right fielder around the bases.

“We just got into a rhythm,” Shull said. “The batters were swinging at the right pitches at the right time to get the ball in play.”

Shull won’t let his team enjoy the opening night victory too much.

“We have practice in the morning,” Shull said. Daves, Marone, and Ramos sat back, chuckled, and smiled at the thought of another day of baseball at the Little League World Series.