Game 9
New England
5 vs. Midwest 14

Sunday, August 20, 2006
12:00PM ET

Midwest Muscles their Way to Victory
Errors Doom New England as the Midwest Pushes Across Eight Unearned Runs enroute to a 14-5 Win

By Brandon Miller
Special Correspondent

It took a night of waiting, but the game that was rescheduled due to rain kicked off another full day of Little League Baseball with the Midwest All-Stars defeating the New England All-Stars 14-5 in front of 9,338 fans at Little League Volunteer Stadium.

“The kids were anxious to play (last night), but getting another night’s sleep and putting the other game further behind us really was important,” said Midwest manager Jeff Echelmeier.

A wild game that went back and forth kept the crowd thoroughly entertained with balls bouncing off the wall, pickoff plays, and a constant stream of runners crossing home plate.

In the end New England’s mistakes and Midwest pitcher Landon Clapp’s bat proved too much to overcome as the Midwest scored 8 unearned run on seven errors while piling up 13 hits.

After being held to only one hit in their first game, the Midwest All-Star bats woke up with a vengeance, led by Clapp, who went 3-3 with three doubles, a walk, two RBIs, and two runs scored while pitching for the win.

“It helped more for the rest of our guys,” said Clapp. “It showed we could hit the ball.”

Ryan Schmidt also helped lead the team going 2-3 with a walk while scoring three runs.

“Once I got my first hit I just felt relaxed and started to have fun,” said Schmidt.

As they did in their first game, the team from Portsmouth got off to a fast start with the first two batters of the game ripping singles. A wild pitch and an error later by the left-fielder and two runs had crossed the plate to give New England pitcher Keegan Taylor a quick 2-0 lead.

“It was tough cause I’d throw it in there as hard as I could and they’d hit it right back at me most of the time,” said Clapp.

After New England tacked on another run in the top of the second, the Midwest responded with a flurry of their own, spawned by three errors.

Clapp began the inning with a double off the base of the wall in centerfield. After being substituted with special pinch runner Carter Marcks, Beau Burkett reached base when his grounder to third held by Matthew Feeney and turned into a fielder’s choice keeping, Marcks at second.

The errors came two batters later when a dropped a fly ball, a wild pitch and two subsequent errors put three runs on the board for the Midwest, tying the game.

“It was contagious today,” said New England manager Mark McCauley. “We kicked the ball all around. It was not Portsmouth baseball today.”

After a strikeout and a walk put runners on the corners with two outs, the Midwest put the steal sign on to get the runner to second. For New England, shortstop Billy Hartmann snuck in behind the bag at third where the runner, Nick de Jong, was baiting a throw from the catcher. Not knowing Hartmann was behind him, a snap throw from catcher Connor McCauley completed the pickoff and ended the inning.

After New England added a run in the top half of the third on back-to-back doubles to lead off the inning by McCauley and Hartmann, the Midwest continued their scoring tear. Three more runs were added on three hits, including another double off the wall by Clapp, three passed balls, and a sacrifice fly by Jeffrey Ausmus, which put the Midwest lead at 6-4.

“They’re a good hitting club,” said New England manager McCauley. “They can hit the ball.”

Another run in the fourth off a double by Feeney kept New England in the game until the bottom half of the inning, when the Midwest pushed across five more runs.

The highlight of the five-run barrage was Burkett’s single to centerfield with runners on first and second. The throw home by the centerfielder got through the cut-off man and was subsequently thrown into left field while trying to get an out at third. After the ball got away, Burkett came all the way around to score, with a triumphant slide into homeplate.

“As soon as we started kicking the ball around the focus shifted to what we did wrong,” said New England manager McCauley. Describing his team’s reaction to the mounting errors, McCauley said, “Stunned is a very good word.”

“I never felt comfortable (during the game),” said Midwest manager Echelmeier. “We just had to keep playing each half inning at a time.”

With their number one starter Ryan Phillips taking the mound for their final game of pool play, the Midwest All-Stars feel pretty confident about their chances of advancing to bracket play.

“With Ryno pitching, I always feel more comfortable behind him,” said Will Echelmeier. “It always takes the pressure off me when he’s pitching.”


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