By Will Desautelle
In case you missed it, the 2019 Little League Baseball® World Series Final Four is set after Curacao defeated South Korea, 5-3; and Louisiana extended its win streak to four games with a 10-0 thrashing of Virginia.
Curacao will take on Japan in the International Championship, while Louisiana will look to turn the table in a rematch against Hawaii in the United States championship.
Beyond the set matchups for Saturday, the two games on Thursday had numerous historical implications. Here’s a recap:
- Thursday was the third-ever LLBWS matchup between a Curacao team and a South Korea team. Not only did Curacao beat South Korea for the first time ever, but Curacao also scored its first ever runs against South Korea on Thursday. South Korea won the previous two meetings by a combined score of 7-0 before losing 5-3 Thursday.
- Thursday was also the first time South Korea ever lost to any Caribbean Region opponent in LLBWS play. Its win over Curacao earlier in this tournament improved the country’s record against the Caribbean Region to 5-0 all-time, outscoring opponents in those games, 29-8.
- Clay Winklaar of Curacao hit a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning against South Korea. Later that night, Louisiana’s Reece Roussel hit a grand slam of his own against Virginia. Those were the second and third grand slams of the tournament with the other coming from Japan’s Yuto Kakeba against Europe. It marked the 14th time in LLBWS history that multiple grand slams were hit in one year. The last time coming in 2015 when a LLBWS record seven grand slams were hit. Even more noteworthy, Winklaar and Roussel’s grand slams on Thursday marked just the third time ever that multiple grand slams were hit on the same day in the LLBWS. The last two times that happened were on August 21, 2015 (Nick Maldonado and Cole Wagner) and August 24, 1992 (Ryan Stuart and Michael Gonsales). More on Roussel below.
- Furthermore, Winklaar’s grand slam marked just the second time ever that a team from Curacao hit a grand slam in the LLBWS. The last time that happened was in 2008 when Jurdrick Profar’s brother Juremi accomplished the feat. Speaking of the Profar brothers…
- With Curacao’s win Thursday, Jurickson, Juremi and Jurdrick Profar became the first trio of brothers to all be on teams that qualified for the U.S./International Championship* They are just the second trio of brothers to ever play in the LLBWS with the last trio being Ty, Drew, and Brennan Hill of Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores LL in Michigan in 2013, 2017, 2018, respectively.
*Note: Teams from Curacao are 2-4 in six International Championship appearances. Both wins were by Jurickson Profar’s Pabao Little League teams in 2004 and 2005. Jurickson’s team defeated Conejo Valley LL from Thousand Oaks, California, for the title in 2004; and then lost to West Oahu Little League from Ewa Beach, Hawaii in 2005. Juremi Profar reached the 2007 International Championship but that year’s Pabao Little League team lost to the eventual runner-up, Japan.
- Louisiana’s Marshall Louque threw the 55th no-hitter (47th individual) in LLBWS history against Virginia, including the fourth one this year. The only other years where at least four no-hitters were thrown in a single LLBWS: 2008 (4) and 1993 (5).
- Louque’s no-hitter against Loudoun South Little League, earned the team from Virginia the unique distinction of being the first team in LLBWS history to both throw a no-hitter and have one thrown against them in the same year.
- Virginia finished their 2019 LLBWS run with two no-hitters thrown. Only five other teams in the history of the tournament have ever done that: Japan in 1976 and 2002, Chinese Taipei in 1973 and 1979, and California in 1993.
- Louisiana’s win marked the second time ever that a team from Louisiana has reached the United States Championship Game. The last time that happened was when South Lake Charles Little League did so in 2008. That team lost in the U.S. title game to Waipio Little League of Hawaii, 7-5.
- Louisiana also became just the fifth team ever to start a LLBWS 0-1 and then reach the U.S Championship. A total of 76 teams have started 0-1 since the field expanded to 16 teams back in 2001. Only one of those teams won the U.S. title (Hawaii in 2010) and no team has gone on to win it all.
- Reece Roussel added four more hits to his LLBWS tournament-high total of 13. He stands one hit shy of Kiko Garcia (2009) and Bradley Smith (2012) for the record for most hits in a single LLBWS.