As a baseball fan, August is my favorite time of the all-too-short season. But my preference has nothing to do with the Major League Baseball pennant races. It does however have everything to do with Little League baseball.
In Little League there are two distinct branches — a Senior league for 13- and 14-year-olds, similar to Babe Ruth, and the traditional Little League with appropriate divisions for players aged 4-12. This past Saturday the Senior Little League World Series wrapped up play in Easely, South Carolina, as Delaware, the 2018 U.S. Champion, faced the current International Champion, Curacao, in a seven-inning showdown for all the marbles.
In the visitors role, Delaware went right to work, plating two runs in the top of the first. Its lead would hold up until the Curacao second when the International champs put up four runs to go up 4-2.
From that point on, pitching and defense dominated the struggle, with both teams mounting threats only to see them thwarted. Then came the bottom of the fifth when the bottom dropped out of Delaware’s game.
In the aforementioned fifth, Curacao would tack on three runs as error after error extended an already drawn-out inning. With a comfortable 7-2 lead, Curacao was in cruise control.
With only two at-bats remaining in regulation, Delaware went down quietly in order in the top of the sixth — the first 1-2-3, inning of the ballgame. In Deleware’s last gasp, it would fare no better, mustering little more than a lead-off walk. In the end, Curacao was crowned the 2018 Senior Little League World Series Champion.
One bad inning was the difference. In that nightmarish fifth, Delaware committed six errors. Of the seven runs they surrendered, only one was earned. One bad inning is all it takes.
While the Senior League season may be done, Little League baseball is far from over as the focus now shifts to the 11- and 12-year-olds and the road to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
With regional play well underway, on Monday I caught a pair of semifinals in the Southeast and Southwest Regional Tournaments, broadcast live on ESPN.
With games lasting six innings at this level (not including extra’s), Georgia knocked off Alabama by a final of 8-3 in the Southeast Regional hosted by Warner Robbins, Georgia. Shortly after in the Southwest semifinal in Waco, Texas, the boys from Texas rode past Oklahoma 5-0. The victories put Georgia and Texas just one win away from Williamsport.
The biggest little show on earth, the Little League World Series is scheduled to take place August 16-26. Eight U.S. Champions will be joined by eight International Champions to compete for the 2018 Little League World Series championship. For the U.S., it will be seeking its 25th World Series crown, by far the most of any competing nation. Next in line is Chinese Taipei with 17 world titles followed by Japan with 11. But win or lose, as any Little Leaguer will tell you, getting to Williamsport is a victory in itself.
Let the games continue!