Despite Losing the Title Game, Tennessee is Still a Winner
Southeast becomes first team from Tennessee in 25 years, and first to ever appear in World Series championship
Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date: Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012
This year’s Little League World Series brought together two phenomenal teams
from opposite sides of the globe. The first a Little League team from Tokyo,
Japan and the second from Goodlettsville, Tenn. Both teams went in to the
championship game undefeated, but only one could keep their record.
The team from Japan walked away with the win, scoring 12 runs to defeat the
Southeast, 12-2, in Sunday’s championship game.
It was a long road for the Southeast representatives from Goodlettsville Little
League. Tennessee earned their Little League berth in the regional game against
usual Southeast powerhouse Warner Robins American Little League of Georgia.
Goodlettsville took the win with a 1-0 victory to earn the first World
Series berth for a Tennessee team in 25 years. The last team to visit South
Williamsport from Tennessee was Morristown in 1987.
"You just go out and do the best you can. They worked all winter to get to this point. All that hard work paid off."-- Southeast Manager Joey Hale
The Southeast took on the Midwest champions from Kearney, Neb., as their first
opponents of the Series this year. These titans of Tennessee trounced the
With the Southeast’s key offensive players in Luke Brown, Brock Myers, Colin
O’Berry, Jonathan Seals, Jake Rucker and Jayson Brown, the Midwest could only
land on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning, keeping the 10-run rule in
The Southeast’s second opponent would become a long-standing Williamsport rival,
the team representing the West from Petaluma, California. This game proved to be
a clearly matched opposition, seeing as the score remained tied up until the top
of the sixth inning when the Southeast’s Brown hit a 2-RBI triple allowing the
team to pull ahead, 7-5. Myers directly followed Brown with a 2-run home run,
making the score 9-5. The West would go on to score one more run, but that
clearly was not enough to shut down this remarkable Southeast team.
The team then moved on to a Wednesday evening game facing the Southwest
champions from San Antonio, Texas. Tennessee may have felt uneasy against the
team from the West, but this game proved an even bigger attack of the nerves.
Southeast trailed 3-2 going into the top of the sixth inning, but this team from
Goodlettsville certainly delivered with a steal by Rucker and an RBI single by
Cole Carter. This team came to play some ball. Bottom of the sixth the Southwest
came back with a run of their own, but the Southeast’s pitching was just too hot
to handle as they won, 4-3.
Southeast moved in to the United States Championship game against their former
competitors of the West. Now this game will go down as one of the best in Little
League World Series history. While the final score of 24-16 was impressive in
terms of being a baseball score, it was not even the most remarkable part. As
many were ready to leave Lamade Stadium or switch the television channel after
seeing a score of 15-5 in the sixth inning, it looked like a clear Southeast
rout. However, an unbelievable comeback with 10 runs allowed the West to stick
around and force extra innings, tied at 15-all after six. The Southeast showed
the world just what they were made of, countering the West’s recent runs with
nine of their own to end the game.
“We just went through a roller coaster,” said Southeast manager Joey Hale.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the West could only manage one run, making
this year’s United States champions the team from Goodlettsville, Tennessee.
“The message will be you never gave up,” said West manager Eric Smith after the
loss on Saturday. “It was a great effort. We thought we had a chance. I’m happy
we made a good effort at the end of the game.”
Now not only was this team from Goodlettsville the first from Tennessee in 25
years to make it to the Little League World Series, but now they were in the
World Series Championship game, the first time a team from Tennessee has ever
advanced to that stage, against a talented team from Tokyo, Japan.
Sunday’s game was the perfect setting for some baseball. The sky was sunny with
spots of clouds and the kids were ready to play. The Southeast had proved
themselves a dominating force, but they simply could not stand up to the
powerhouse team that is Japan. The Southeast fell 12-2 to Japan in just five
innings, enacting the 10-run rule. Southeast pitcher Justin Smith pitched
admirably even when facing the toughest team in the world. Smith struck out
three players, allowed five runs and seven hits over three innings.
“You just go out and do the best you can,” said Hale. “They worked all winter to
get to this point. All that hard work paid off.”
So while this team from Goodlettsville may not have been handed the "World
Champions" banner this year, they certainly left their mark on the world and are
looking forward to heading home where their run as champions is not nearly over.
The Southeast’s Little Leaguers are expected to make a visit to Vanderbilt
University in Nashville, Tenn., this Thursday night for their season opener
against South Carolina.