Game 11: Great Lakes 0 vs. Southwest 12

FROM SICK TO SLAM

Author: Name - Zach Swartz

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Sunday, August 23, 2009, 2:00pm ET

Sometimes, bananas and toast is all you need.

That’s what the Southwest Region Champion’s Nicholas Smisek had for breakfast on Sunday morning, a day after waking up feeling sick and two days after his team won 10-1 in its opener of the Little League World Series.

The 12-0 victory over the Great Lakes Region Champions, Logan County/Russellville Little League (LCRLL) from Russellville, Ky., Sunday afternoon was as good a cure as any.

But Smisek wasn’t even sure he was going to play in the game because his coach wanted to make sure he was ready, despite the player’s pleas to start.

“As he had the IV in his arm he told me he was playing,” manager Mike Shull said. “I said, well, we’ll talk about that tomorrow.”

Smisek didn’t start, but that didn’t matter. With a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third, Smisek, who had entered as a defensive replacement in the top of the frame, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. He was looking for some insurance, and he got plenty of it.

The line drive he hit barely missed the left field foul pole. The grand slam put McAllister Park American Little League (MPALL) up 8-0 essentially putting the game out of reach.

“I knew it was gone. I just wanted it to stay fair,” Smisek said.

The grand slam came with no outs. The team batted around before an out was recorded in the inning. The inning was a pick-me-up after both teams went scoreless in the first two innings. Even so, the game finished in under an hour and a half.

“We started off slow, but they got on fire,” Shull said. “I thought John threw a lot of quality strikes. The bats started off a little slow, but obviously they got hot and we took advantage of a few mistakes they made.”

John Shull, who pitched all four innings and allowed two hits and no runs, earned the win. Shortstop Steven Cardone, who had a home run in the fourth, finished 3-for-3 with four RBI.

The two hits for LCRLL came on the first two at-bats of the game. Shortstop Barrett Croslin led off with a single, and first baseman Caleb Bruner followed with one of his own. But Shull got out of the jam with a pair of strike outs and a ground out.

The Great Lakes Region Champions had a tough go-around in their first two games, although their coaches and parents both say the players are keeping their heads high. The 12-0 loss on Sunday finished just 18 hours after they lost 15-0 to the West Region champion Saturday night.

Before the game, LCRLL manager Kevin Gettings called his team’s run a “Cinderella story.” It had become the first team from the area to win the state title, much less make it to the Little League World Series. It accomplished that after losing the first two games of the Great Lakes Regional tournament Indianapolis.

He credited his team’s fans, who had made the 12-hour drive to Williamsport, Pa., Friday night.

“We’re pretty excited to have this many people represent us,” Gettings said. “I think ESPN made a comment last night that all of Russellville is here. So it’s exciting to have that many people come out and support us. It’s an exciting time for everybody.”

Logan County/Russellville (0-2) will play Peabody Western Little League of Peabody, Mass. (0-1) at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. McAllister Park (2-0) faces Park View Little League of Chula Vista, Calif. (1-0) Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Lamade Stadium.