Little League World Series
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) ó Faced with elimination, the boys from Mill Creek, Wash., and Tampa, Fla., turned to the long ball to stay alive in the Little League World Series.
For Washington, four players hit homers ó including two from left-handed slugger Alec Kisena ó in a 16-hit attack that overpowered Hagerstown, Md., 15-5.
A loss would have dropped Washington to 0-2, shutting the team out of the next round. Now, Washington still has a chance to advance ó as long as it wins its last pool-play game Tuesday.
On Monday, the players were just relieved ó so much so that one of their biggest concerns was retrieving some of their home run balls. Only Kisena found one from one of his two shots, and he was still holding it tight in his left hand minutes after the game ended.
The team hoped fans with the souvenirs would be willing to part with them in exchange for collectible pins.
“Somebody’s got them. We’ll do some trading,” Washington manager Scott Mahlum said.
Home runs were in vogue all day.
Matamoros, Mexico, hit four in a 10-0 shutout of Yona, Guam; Keelen Obadoza’s two-run homer in the fifth broke a tie to help Waipahu, Hawaii, beat Rapid City, S.D., 6-4; and Willemstad, Curacao, smacked four homers in a 14-1 win over Yona, Guam.
The nightcap featured an elimination game between Tampa, Fla., and Shelton, Conn., and Florida rallied late for an 8-2 win in seven innings to advance to the U.S. semifinals.
Tyler Tice’s single had given Connecticut a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth before Kevin Merrell tied it in the top of the sixth with a homer. Danny Lastra’s homer to open the seventh led to a six-run outburst that broke open the game.
Florida manager Joe McGuire gave his team a simple message before the sixth.
“I just told them, ‘This could be your last at-bat as a team,”‘ he said. “After (Merrell) hit the home run, I thought we were in good shape.”
Washington’s sluggers got Monday’s hit parade going.
Kisena’s homers each landed near the hedges beyond the right-field fence more than 225 feet away from the plate. Both shots came on two-strike counts. Kisena never saw where the first one landed, though he was pretty sure about the second homer.
“I knew it was gone because I hit it long,” Kisena said with a straight face.
Jason Todd went 4-for-4 with a homer and Alek Baumgartner also went deep against Maryland, which had to use five pitchers.
Both Maryland and Washington now face must-win situations Tuesday to advance to the U.S. semis. Maryland manager Bill Abeles Jr. joked about finding some new pitchers for the next game.
“Besides shave the beard, put a uniform on and see if I can throw a curveball or two?” he asked.