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Northwest Advances in Little League Baseball® World Series with 6-5 Win Over Southeast
By George Thompson
Game Attendance: 12,768
With both teams facing elimination, the Northwest Region Champions from Sammamish, Wash., came through with a close 6-5 victory over the Southeast Region Champions from Nashville, Tenn., after they were able to record the final out of the game with the tying run on first base.
With Southeast’s Blake Kirchenbauer on first and two outs, the stage was set for Ben Pickman, who had already homered and doubled earlier in the game.
Pickman had come through for the team in big situations before, but it wasn’t meant to be on this night. On a 0-1 count, Pickman swung on an inside, off-speed pitch, only to hit a rolling grounder to Northwest’s second baseman, who tossed it to second for the force out.
Southeast manager Chris Mercado said he thought they had it after the game, but added, “You can’t ask the kid to be Superman.”
After Trae McLemore struck out the first Northwest six batters he faced in two innings, the Northwest offense began to adjust, and this paid dividends for them in the third inning when they scored six runs to take a 6-2 lead.
Northwest would take advantage of timely singles, as well as some throwing errors by the Southeast fielders to take the lead. After the game, manager Mercado admitted that Northwest put the ball in play, and when a team puts the ball in play, good things happen.
“You just can’t beat yourself,” he said. “We’re playing ourselves a little bit.”
For the Northwest batters, it was all about the adjustments. After the game, coach Matt Fitzgibbons explained the adjustments they made in that inning, saying that instead of sitting on the pitches, they wanted to get the bats going and were going to swing at balls down the middle.
“We had to change our game plan quite fast,” added Northwest manager Rob Chandler. He said they didn’t realize McLemore was going to throw so many strikes, which was certainly the case. In the first two innings, when he struck out every single batter he faced, 22 of the 26 pitches he threw went for strikes, foul balls included.
In the end, the adjustments the Northwest team made worked, and they are now one win away from the United States championship game, and two from the World Series championship. Their next game will take place on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. against the loser of the Wednesday’s New England vs. West game.
For the kids from Nashville, it’s back to school. Even though they lost, manager Mercado handled the press conference with class, thanking Little League® for the amazing experience they have had in Williamsport. “Little League has been incredible,” he said.