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Mr. Everywhere: Mora big at the plate and on the mound for West region
By Darian Somers
West pitcher Nick Mora was visibly upset when his day on the mound was cut short due to pitch-count in the Little League Baseball® World Series U.S. Championship game against New England on Saturday.
But neither his coach nor teammates, or even Mora himself, could be upset with anything in his performance prior to his forced exit. And that’s what made his departure so disappointing. That and he was one out away from pitching a complete game.
Mora pitched 5.2 innings, striking out ten, walking just one and allowing only two hits. At the plate, he was equally as formidable, sending a three-run homer over the wall and finishing the game with four RBI as the West Regional champs defeated the New England Regional champs, 12-1, to win the U.S. Championship at Howard J. Lamade Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"When I was pitching, I knew most of their weaknesses, and I knew how to pitch at them," said Mora, who called it the best game he'd ever played. "We have been studying them. When I was hitting, I knew I just had to stay calm and not swing for a home run, but for line drives."
Mora put the Little Leaguers® from Chula Vista ahead by five with one swing of the bat in the second inning. The homer, which landed on the Hill behind the outfield fence, was his third of the tournament and pushed his RBI total to five. Mora then added another RBI when he singled in Micah Pietila-Wiggs in Eastlake Little League's six-run sixth inning.
"He's just amazing,” New England manager Tim Rogers said. "Everybody in their lineup is very talented. Nick, in particular… I just scratch my head."
Mora leads the team in homers with three, is tied for first with RBI, is second in hits, and second with a .429 batting average for the tournament.
Mora also played a key role in Chula Vista’s first win over Connecticut earlier in the tournament on West’s way to the U.S. Championship game when he hit two solo homers in the 6-3 win on Wednesday.
"You got to give him the credit," Rogers said. "He made some of our guys look not so great, and they are not used to that."
While Mora's bat has been heavy, his pitching arm has followed suit. Mora has pitched 9.2 innings through Chula Vista's four games. He's picked up the win twice and struck out a total of 16 batters. He's walked only two. Mora has also surrendered a mere two earned runs, putting his ERA the lowest of the deep West pitching staff at 1.24.
"I expected that," West manager Rick Tibbett said. "I talked to him yesterday. As you noticed, I moved him up in the line-up to three. I knew Nick could handle the pressure. Nick will tell you. I talked to [him] yesterday and I said '[he] is ready for the big time right now.' Every game that we've had a win, he's been there and he's done what he's had to do."