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

Day 11: Notebook

Take me out to the Ballgame

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Author: Allie Weinberger

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Little League Baseball World Series set new attendance records in 2011 despite the intrusive presence of Mother Nature. Entering Sunday’s finale, 405,749 came through South Williamsport to take in 30 games, shattering the previous Series record set just last year of 381,028 in 32 contests. Add in the championship game patronage of 9,156, and it leaves the new mark to beat at 414,905 in spite of losing the consolation game due to weather.

All Natural

Mother Nature played the role of rebellious teen throughout the 2011 Little League Baseball World Series, hitting the fields of South Williamsport with the effects of an earthquake, a tropical storm and a deluge of precipitation throughout the 11-day span.

Clinton County Crazy

A final count has not been determined, but Mid-Atlantic shirts, hats and jerseys have been flying off the shelves in Little League’s on-site gift shop, even after the team from nearby Clinton County, Pa., had been eliminated.

The initial order, on hand for the gift shop’s first day of operation on Tuesday, August 16, sold out in just hours, and the trend would continue. The day of Keystone Little League’s elimination matchup against the Southeast, more than 1600 t-shirts sold out in under three hours, inspiring new shipments of 2,000 at a time to be ordered each of the next two days.

Leader of the Pack

Here are the 2011 Little League Baseball World Series stat category leaders entering Sunday’s title game between the West and Japan.

It was Venezuela’s Yonny Hernandez whose .667 batting average paced the tournament (8-12, 8 hits, 5 runs, no strikeouts). Jake Fromm of Warner Robins, Ga., and Japan’s Yoshiki Suzuki both smacked a trio of homers to top that list, while Suzuki, Sunday’s first baseman, paced the 11-day spectacle with 10 RBI for Japan, including a four-RBI outing in the opener against Aruba.

On the pitching side of things, a trio of hurlers recorded a pair of wins despite the stringent mandatory rest periods, including California’s Hagen Danner and Japan’s Suzuki – neither of whom would pitch in the title game. Mexico’s Jorges Jacobo also earned a pair of victories from the hill. West’s championship game third baseman, Nick Pratto, paced all 16 teams with 21 strikeouts in four appearances, including a combined 19 in his final two outings, both against the Northwest.

A number of throwers – including the West’s Danner and Pratto – did not allow an earned run in their time in Williamsport.

Danner paced the West at the plate and ranked fourth in the tournament with a .566 batting average (10-18, 4 runs, 2 RBI, no strikeouts), while Suzuki’s .412 (7-17) led Danner’s challengers.

What Now?

Some Little League World Series managers and coaches know they’ll be back. Some know they won’t. Others just aren’t sure.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years,” said Northwest manager Gene Carlson after a loss to the West in the U.S. Championship Saturday afternoon. “I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year. I didn’t think I’d be doing this this year either, but I things change in six months.”

What all of them know is that this experience has changed them and will be a cherished memory for the rest of their lives. It will also change the way they look at the Series as the years move forward.

“It’ll be weird next year when I sit back and watch this on TV and say that was us – we were there,” said West manager Jeff Pratto. “It’s just kind of sinking in. It’s my last game coaching, so now I’ll just be a dad and a spectator.”