Game 9: West 15 vs. Great Lakes 0

Bombs And Broken Records Add Up To West Victory

Author: Zach Swartz

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Saturday, August 22, 2009, 8:00pm ET

Picture a balloon being blown up.

With each consecutive puff, the rubber expands ever so slightly until - POP! - the balloon just can’t wait any longer.

That balloon was the West Region Champion’s offense, and it popped in the fourth inning Saturday night at Lamade Stadium in the final game of the second day of the Little League World Series. A five-run fourth inning and a seven-run fifth propelled the Park View Little League of Chula Vista, Calif. (PVLL) to a 15-0 win over Logan County/Russellville (Ky.) Little League (LCRLL).

The puffs were steady at first. After the first two PVLL batters were retired by LCRLL starting pitcher Barrett Croslin, a pair of singles and a two-run triple off the bat of right fielder Bradley Roberto gave the team from Southern California an early 2-0 lead.

Luke Ramirez, the first baseman for Chula Vista, blasted a towering home run to right field to lead off the third, but it was the team’s first hit since the opening inning. Heading into the fourth inning, the 3-0 lead was anything but safe.

The PVLL offense finally exploded in the fourth and fifth frames. With two outs in the fourth, Andy Rios and Bulla Graft reached on singles. Ramirez then one-upped them with his second home run of the game and the floodgates were open.

From the first pitch of the fourth to the last out of the fifth, PVLL totaled six home runs and batted around twice while scoring 12 runs. Every batter had at least one hit, and three (Ramirez, Rios and starting pitcher Kiko Garcia) had two.

“I think our guys are just really naturally strong players,” Ramirez said. “But right now I really don’t think strength has to do with hitting the home runs. I think we’re putting really pure swings on the ball, not getting cheated on any pitches. I can’t explain it, I mean, we’re all just putting awesome swings on the ball and it’s paying off.”
The seven long balls for the West Region Champions - a team that had 34 home runs in their six regional games - were the most in one game since the Little League World Series expanded to 16 teams in 2001. The previous mark was set in 2005, when Asia Region Champion Musachi-Fuchu hit five.

“We knew we were going to hit a couple home runs because that’s kind of how we are - we usually hit a lot of home runs,” Garcia said. “But seven is unexpected. We like it, so we’ll try to continue it.”

Garcia was splendid as well. Besides finishing the game 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, he tossed a one-hitter through five innings, while striking out seven. The one hit came on a slow ground ball from between the mound and third base line off the bat of LCRLL’s Ian Woodall.

“After the fifth inning, it got to the point where it was comical to them (the Kentucky players),” LCRRLL manager Kevin Gettings said. “They were having a good time with it. The trainer came in and asked if we needed to ice any pitchers arms, but, of course, they didn’t throw hard enough to get iced down. So we told her we needed our necks iced down from watching all the home runs being hit over the fence.”

The Great Lakes Region Champion lost the first two games of the regional tournament before rebounding to win the championship and earn a trip to Williamsport, Pa.

“If anybody in this tournament can bounce back, I think we can do it,” Gettings said.

After all, who knows when their balloon might pop.

Both teams are right back in action on Sunday. The Park View Little League squad will take on the team from the Peabody Western Little League (Mass.) at 6 p.m. in Volunteer Stadium. The Logan County/Russellville Little League team will oppose the McAllister Park American Little League (Texas) team at 2 p.m. in a game that will be played in Lamade Stadium.