Warner Robins Wins With Pitching
Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date/Time: Saturday, August 22, 2009, 3:00pm ET
For a team that hit four home runs in its opening game, Warner Robins (Ga.)
American Little League (WRALL) used a stellar pitching performance to record its
second victory of the Little League World Series Saturday at Howard J. Lamade
Starter Justin Jones, who hit two long balls on Friday and added another on Saturday, threw just 82 pitches in his six inning complete game against South Shore National Little League of Staten Island, N.Y. (SSNLL) helping his team to a 6-3 win.
“It feels pretty good to be able to do that, and I think our team is very confident now to come in here and play our A-game,” Jones said. “I didn’t think I was going to hit any home runs.”
He had allowed just one unearned run and a pair of hits with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but SSNLL starting pitcher Vincent Quinn hit a two-run homer to bring his team within three runs. Jones then got the final out of the game on a ground out.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Jones said about the SSNLL home run in the final inning. “I felt good the whole game. We still had the lead so it’s fine with me.”
But, SSNLL got an impressive pitching performances itself. Quinn and relievers James Morisano, Michael Rapaglia and Nick Pucciarelli combined to strike out 12 and allow just seven hits. But three of those hits were two-run home runs - one from catcher Spencer Sato in the first inning, another from Jones in the second frame and a third from shortstop Blake Jackson in the sixth.
Sato, Jones and Jackson are three players who played on last year’s WRALL team as 11-year-olds.
The Mid-Atlantic Region champion’s scored a run in the second on a one-out double off the bat of third baseman Michael Russell. He would later score after a pair of wild pitches. It was the team’s first loss in 19 postseason games.
“I’d rather have the loss in pool play rather than in the elimination round,” manager Michael Zaccariello said. “Maybe they need it. It could be a good wakeup call. It could be positive. They’ll understand the quality of teams that are here and they’re not just going to run through everybody like they have in the past.”
The Southeast Region winners’ seven home runs so far in the Little League World Series are the most for any team. This year’s team is looking to duplicate the run of the 2007 team from Warner Robins that captured the Little League Baseball World Series title.
“Without question, this is probably the best team we’ve played,” WRALL manager Randy Jones said of SSNLL. “They’ve just got some big, strong kids all the way through their lineup. We studied some of their stats, did some homework, and we came in with a game plan that was different than what we’ve done before. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work or not, but the kids stepped up and accepted the new idea of how we were going to pitch guys and they worked it to perfection.”
Warner Robins (2-0) takes on Northwest Region Champion Mercer Island (Wash.) Little League (0-1) Monday at 4 p.m. in their next contest. South Shore (1-1) will face Midwest Region winner Urbandale (Iowa) Little League (0-1) at 8 p.m. on Monday.