Little League World Series

Game A: Europe 2 vs. Midwest 1

Come Again?

Instant replay aids Europe in pitcher’s duel with Minnesota in consolation crossover game

Author: Mark Price

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Monday, August 23, 2010, Noon ET

They say it’s a game of inches. Now they have proof.

Ramstein AFB, Germany was rewarded by instant replay late in their 2-1 victory over Plymouth, Minn., Monday afternoon in the first consolation “crossover” game of the 2010 Little League World Series at Howard J. Lamade Stadium. Both teams were already eliminated from championship contention after losing their first two games of the Series this weekend.

Minnesota leaves South Williamsport with an 0-3 mark, while Ramstein (1-2) earned its first victory in its second consecutive appearance to the Little League World Series.

Umpires reversed a call in the bottom of the fifth inning that put the eventual winning run back at first base. The inning’s leadoff hitter, Kyle Foley, hit a sharp grounder to third baseman James Ripley. The ball deflected off Ripley to shortstop Josh Thorp, who threw to first for the out. Europe Manager Gary Harrington saw the play differently, however, and challenged the call with instant replay.

The video proved him correct, Foley was awarded first base, and Foley later took home on a passed ball to give Ramstein its final margin of victory at 2-1.

Concerning instant replay, both coaches conceded it’s just part of the game. But a sentiment like that is not very reassuring of their feelings toward the new technology.

“It just felt weird the first time I witnessed it,” said Midwest Coach Matt Deterding, who saw a call reversed earlier this weekend. “But it was fine today.”

Europe Manager Gary Harrington felt similar despite coming from the winning dugout.

“Personally I’m against instant replay,” said Harrington. “I’m old school.”

But acknowledging his general ineptness with new technology, Harrington added, “We came to win.”

Jack McDonough led the Midwest champions to a promising start by doubling with one out in the top of the first. He was driven in by Nick Tuel to give Minnesota the 1-0 lead.

Ramstein battled back in the bottom of the first with a run-scoring single from Mackenzie Mueller. Minnesota stifled the one-out rally by snuffing out Mueller and Tyler Hufana’s attempt at a delayed double steal from second and third.
When Minnesota catcher Gabe Gauer threw the ball back to pitcher Johnnie Vecere, Hufana took off for home. Vecere alertly threw the ball back to his catcher, who tagged out Hufana and then gunned down Mueller at third base.

Europe would threaten again in the bottom of the third, loading the bases with two outs. Vecere worked himself out of the jam again, this time in a more traditional manner by inducing a hard groundball to the shortstop.

Both teams stranded two runners in the fourth, keeping the score locked at 1-1.

Europe starter Tyler Ullman pitched well in his final World Series appearance, throwing 89 pitches and allowing only one run as he scattered six hits over 3 2/3 innings. James Oswald (1-0) closed out the final 2 1/3 innings to pick up the win for Europe.

The Minnesota pitchers also threw well, allowing only five hits and one earned run over five innings.

The boys from Ramstein Air Force Base will fly back to Germany with the “Top Gun” soundtrack ringing in their ears. The classic tune was played after shortstop Pierce Tujo flipped the ball to Foley at second base for the final out of the game.

The World Series experience was enjoyable for both teams, despite being the first teams out of championship contention.

Even the coaches were gushing about their experience in South Williamsport.

“It’s been unbelievable, a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Deterding of Minnesota. “I’ve always wanted to come here. [Manager] John Vecere has always wanted to come here. To be able to do it together, it’s been perfect.”