Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date/Time: Day, August 19, 2011, 8:00pm ET
For two hours, that raucous roar reverberated from the stands of a jam-packed Howard J. Lamade Stadium. The sound was deafening, especially as it erupted from nearly all 41,848 fans — the largest crowd ever recorded in the 65-year history of the Little League World Series.
The Great Lakes Region Champions from La Grange, Ky.’s North Oldham Little League celebrated 1-0 victory over the geographical giants from Clinton County, Pa., a mere 20 miles away.
Outlasting the heralded Mid-Atlantic squad, the Great lakes Region Champions relied almost exclusively on the arm and bat of Griffin McLarty.
McLarty threw an absolute gem, striking out twelve — including seven of the first eight he faced — in a complete game shutout.
“All the noise was pretty crazy,” McLarty said. “But I knew I just had to block it out and keep throwing strikes.”
While McLarty’s pitching certainly kept his team in contention, it was his opposite-field home run in the first inning that unknowingly sealed the victory early.
“I really enjoyed that moment,” he said. “Hitting a homer in my first at bat at the Little League World Series — nothing can top that.”
Great Lakes Manager Brad Bates knew the game’s atmosphere would be unlike anything his team had ever seen.
“I kept telling them,” he said, “‘Focus on what’s on the field, not what’s off it.’”
Such rigorous resolve proved necessary as Mid-Atlantic began threatening to score in the final few innings.
Given the game’s tremendous hype, it felt fitting that the most noteworthy drama arrived during the final two innings.
Up 1-0 in the fifth, McLarty was still pitching as Wyatt Koch led off the inning with a single to right field. Mitchell Smith then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, advancing Koch to second.
Trebor Nicodemus followed with a lazy grounder to McLarty for an easy putout at first. However, Koch seized an opportunity to score but was thrown out at the plate, preserving Great Lakes slim lead.
The sixth inning featured even more home plate highlights. Ninth batter Tyler McCloskey led off the inning with a double. Brandon Miller followed with an infield single, during which McCloskey also burst towards home plate.
Like his teammate, he was one step too late.
“They made some really nice plays,” said Mid-Atlantic Manager Bill Garbick. “But if I hadn’t sent them, things would have probably been different.”
The Mid-Atlantic team continued to press the issue, as Alex Garbick lined a double to right, placing runners on second and third with one out and still down only a run.
But McLarty refused to fold. He notched his 11th and 12th strikeouts, back-to-back, when his team needed them most.
Bates asserted his confidence in McLarty never waned.
“He was on,” Bates said. “I knew it was going to be a dogfight and I couldn’t take the dog out of the fight.”
With the win, the Great Lakes team earned a day off, and will face the West Region Champion Ocean View Little League from Huntington Beach, Calif., at Volunteer Stadium on Sunday at 6 p.m.
The Mid-Atlantic Region Champions, now with one loss, will return to Lamade Stadium for a Saturday night game against New England Region representative, Cumberland (R.I.) American Little League. The New England Champs fell to the West earlier on Friday, by the score of 11-0.