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

Game 22: Mid-Atlantic 7 vs. Southeast 5

McCloskey’s the Keystone

After explosive first inning, hometown favorites Keystone Little League eliminates Southeast, 7-5

Author: Alex Duke

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Tuesday, August 23, 2011, 8:00pm ET

Even when they show that they’re vulnerable, the boys in blue just can’t seem to be stopped.

Tuesday night, after finding themselves in a precarious position, giving up three runs in the top of the first, the Mid-Atlantic regional champs rode a deafening crowd of more than 32,000 to a comeback win, plating six runs in the bottom half of the frame to procure a lead they would never relinquish en route to a 7-5 victory over Warner Robbins, Ga.

“It’s always tough to give up runs in the first,” said Mid-Atlantic manager Bill Garbrick. “But when you can answer them with a few more, it’s definitely a big momentum swing on our side.”

The hometown boys from Clinton County, Pa., used that explosive first inning to stifle their rattled opponent and liven yet another raucous hometown crowd.

“Tonight wasn’t the biggest crowd,” Garbrick said. “But it was definitely the rowdiest.”

The relentless roar jarred Southeast’s unseasoned pitchers.

“Bottom line, we ran out of experienced pitching,” said Southeast manager Phillip Johnson. “[Last night’s] nine-inning game killed us.”

Despite his team’s elimination, Johnson praised his players’ resolve, saying that this was the best group of boys he has ever coached.

“Who would have thought that we would even be here?” he said. “I didn’t even know if we could win state. This has been an experience of a lifetime.”

Garbrick, on the other hand, felt that the boisterous crowd fueled his team’s confidence — especially his de facto closer, Tyler McCloskey. With the Southeast region champs trying to mount a late rally, he shut the door yet again, hurling only fastballs in 1.1 innings of one-hit ball.

“I’m not nervous anymore,” said the 5-foot-2, 92-pound McCloskey. “I’ve done this about a million times now.”

Garbrick said his team is finally starting to realize what they’ve accomplished. On Thursday night, his fearless faction of hometown heroes will have a chance to take it one step further as they play in the United States Semifinal.

Their gameplan this time? Pretty simple.

“Hit the baseball and play defense,” said Garbrick. “We’re not gonna change a thing.”