2011 Little League Baseball World Series
Williamsport, Pennsylvania - August 18 - 28

Day 5: Notebook

Candid Coaches

Author: Allie Weinberger, Alex Duke and Ryan Lewis

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Monday, August 22, 2011

These 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds have certainly put a lot into this six-week trek to the Little League Baseball World Series, but so have their coaches and managers.

Forty eight adults have spent weeks and weeks on end living with the sole company of adolescent boys and each other. They’ve put their lives on hold, their jobs on hold, their families and their summers on hold. And now, more than ever before, they’re really getting into it. And some of them seem almost as excited – and candid – as the kids they coach.

When Canadian pitcher Yi An Pan was asked if he saw how far his home run sailed over the centerfield wall in a 5-3 Monday afternoon win over perennial powerhouse Chinese Taipei, he gave the traditionally, let’s call it a “coach-y” response.

“I didn’t see it,” said Pan. “I just had my head down running hard.”

Good answer. Not too confident, very appreciative. But coach Jason Andrews gave credit where credit was due, interrupting his modest pitcher/hitter.

“[It was] pretty much a missile,” he said, eyes opened wide in remembrance. “He drove that ball out pretty good.”

And when Pan made a big out at home to preserve a 4-3 lead when an Asia-Pacific player tried to steal a run on a wild pitch, he again spoke of the slight hand injury he sustained with reservation and timidity.

“He slid into my hand and it hurt for a while, but then it got better and I was OK,” Pan said. When asked if the pain went away after he launched the aforementioned home run? “Yeah,” Pan said shyly.

But again, Andrews interjected with a playful thought of his own.

“Pretty sure I high-fived him so hard [the pain] came back though.”

Dance Dance Aruba-lution

Second baseman for Aruba Vaughn Bergen has developed a bit of a celebrity status with his positive attitude and dance moves before and after games.

Bergen is giving Dugout a run for its money with a nifty drop-low-and-spin-move he uses to play to the crowd. Bergen also spins with his hands out during the post-game handshakes.

Bergen went 1-for-4 with an RBI in Aruba’s win over the Midwest in Monday’s consolation game.

Now Hiring

In his team’s nine-inning victory over the Great Lakes, Southeast manager Phillip Johnson said that he and his staff were forced to use up all of their veteran pitching arms, stating simply that “you’ve got to win the one you’re in.”

When asked how his team’s pitching shaped up for the next game – a Tuesday night matchup against hometown favorites the Mid-Atlantic – Johnson had a quick response: “Not good.”

He said that his team will most likely pitch players who have not taken the mound since All-Star tournaments began.

Yes to Yoga

Southeast slugger Jake Fromm credited his quick healing from a lower back injury to a more rigorous stretching schedule.

“We do it two times a day,” his manager added.  “And it’s not the fun kind of stretching.”

A Striking Presence

In his team’s 8-5 victory over the Great Lakes, Southeast pitcher Jake Fromm struck out 10 of the first 14 batters he faced.

Kentucky Not Leaving Yet

Great Lakes manager Brad Bates said his team plans to spend the rest of week in Williamsport, despite his team’s elimination from the tournament.

“We’d love to get another game in with somebody,” he said.

Sotaro Surprises Himself

With his team leading, 5-4, in the fifth inning, Japan leftfielder Sotaro Yoshida, in full stride and with his arm completely extended, made a fantastic catch just a step short of the warning track to take away at least a double from Saudi Arabia third baseman Bradlee Sumner.

After the game, Yoshida admitted he had never made a play like that, even in practice.