Iowa Stays Alive With Comeback In Fifth Inning
Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date/Time: Day, August 23, 2009, 12:00pm ET
Ross Kramer and Robert VanderLinden both tallied pinch-hit doubles in a
spectacular fifth inning for Urbandale (Iowa) Little League (ULL), who erased a
3-0 deficit in the fifth inning to win 5-3 over Northwest Region Champions
Mercer Island (Wash.) Little League (MILL).
With his team trailing 3-2, Jake Quirk hit a dramatic two-run homer giving the Midwest Region Champions the lead for good.
“I knew I was waiting for the perfect (pitch) to come to me,” Quirk said. “It was a little outside, but it was a fastball, so I took it the other way. It felt so good knowing that I just did that for my team and gave us the lead.”
Before Quirk’s long ball, Kramer and VanderLinden came off the bench to spark the rally. Kramer stepped up to the plate with one out in the fifth and took two bases with his hit over center field.
“We’ve always talked about when you get an opportunity you’ve got to make sure you take advantage of it,” ULL manager Scott Grau said. “Ross’s hit was the perfect example. Coming in as the last sub in the game, he gets his first at bat and takes one deep over the center fielder’s head, which really lit a fire underneath the whole team.”
Catcher Spencer Sturges stroked a base hit to move Kramer to third, setting the table for VanderLinden. He smacked a two-run double to pull ULL within one run.
“I was in a little slump batting wise,” VanderLinden said. “Once I saw that ball coming into the strike zone I just tried to get a good line drive on it, and I did.”
Quirk came up to bat and saved his squad with a blue wave of Urbandale fans in the back roaring “I-O-W-A! POW-ER!, I-O-W-A! POW-ER!”
“How fun for the Quirk kid, to step up there and whack one out to put them up 4-3,” Mercer Island coach Brock Mansfield said. “He’ll have that memory forever.”
Up until the rally, Mercer Island starting pitcher Keegan Ogard threw four scoreless innings. Grau said he thought Ogard’s struggles had nothing to do with fatigue.
“Really I’m not sure what changed,” Grau said. “I thought he was still throwing as hard and throwing it into good locations. For whatever reason we started hitting the ball.”
The last run of the inning scored after left fielder Jaran Sabus’s sacrifice hit scored center fielder Michael Staub, who drew a walk, took second on a passed ball, and advanced to third on a wild pitch by MILL relief pitcher Brandon Lawler.
Mercer Island scored two of its runs in the third inning. Michael Bantle had an RBI single early in the inning. With the bases loaded, Anthony Scalzo hit into what initially appeared to be a 6-4-3 double play.
But the second base umpire signaled the runner safe at second base, and the Mercer Island base runners made a delayed rush towards home plate while the Urbandale defenders were trotting off the field. Urbandale allowed one run to score before frantically tagging out the last runner at home plate.
“This is still a live game and we’ve got to get going and cover the ball,” Grau said.
Mercer Island’s number eight and nine hitters, Aidan Plummer and David Emanuels, performed particularly well. Plummer had a pair of hits in two at-bats and scored two runs, while Emanuels also went 2-for-2 and added an RBI.
With their win today, the Midwest Region Champions eliminated MILL from advancing in the tournament. Warner Robbins (Ga.) Little League also clinched the top seed in Pool A, with the outcome of the Urbandale and Mercer Island game, with one game to play in pool play.
ULL is tied with South Shore National Little League (N.Y.) with one win and one loss in Pool A. The two teams meet Monday at 8 p.m. at Lamade Stadium to determine the second team that will advance out of pool play into the U.S. semifinals on Thursday.
Mercer Island will complete tournament play with a game at 4 p.m. Monday against the team from Warner Robins.