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New England’s starting pitcher, Chad Knight, used these simple, yet magical words to describe his first game in the Little League Baseball ® World Series that was played Thursday evening at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
After five lead changes, Westport, Conn., managed to pull out a 3-2 win over Nashville, Tenn. The matchup between the New England and Southeast regions kept the spectators on the edge of their seats the entire game.
Chad Knight’s pitching paved the way for a New England win, striking out eight batters and allowing only one earned run, five hits, and no walks in four and a half innings of play.
In the bottom of the first, New England’s Knight singled to center field and was followed shortly by Harry Azadian’s line-drive double to center. Matt Stone then hit a shot to center field, bringing Knight home for an early lead. Southeast’s catcher Christopher McElvain then threw out Azadian at home plate to end the inning.
Knox Preston contributed to Southeast’s defense when he made a great diving stop for a force out at second base, ending the second inning.
Southeast’s offense quickly responded to New England’s 1-0 lead with 3 hits and 1 run scored during the top of the third inning. Ben Pickman sent a shot deep to center field for a double then stole third base. McElvain had a base hit to right field for an RBI single, sending Pickman home to tie the game.
Pickman hit a long ball over the wall in the top of the fifth inning to take the lead of the game.
New England’s offense soon answered Pickman’s home run with a home run by Ricky Offenberg to tie the game yet again at 2-2. Christopher Drbal then hit a line drive to center field, forcing a pitching change for Southeast, who brought in Trae McLemore. Knight hit a double to left field to drive in Drbal to take the lead of the game, putting New England up 3-2 – a lead they would not relinquish.
“I was more nervous than the kids today. We all want it for our kids. It's an honor to be here playing in the Little League World Series,” said New England’s manager Tim Rogers.
Southeast’s manager Chris Mercado is not overly worried with the first-round loss.
“Every single tournament that we have played in, we’ve lost the first game. I guess we just like playing with our backs against the wall, and that's just what we will have to do,” said Mercado.
Southeast will play Southwest at Lamade Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 17 at 3 p.m., starting the single-elimination games. New England will play Northwest on Sunday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m at Lamade Stadium.