Little League World Series

Game 22: Northwest 7 vs. Southwest 4

Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun!

Washington defeats Texas 7-4 in Pool B play to force repeat matchup on Thursday

Author: Mark Rogoff

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 8:00pm ET

As Ernie Banks once said, “Let’s play two.”

The Hall of Famer was referring to the beautiful weather that day, suggesting his Chicago Cubs play a doubleheader.

At the 64th Little League World Series, Texas and Washington won’t be playing twice in one day. But the two teams will go toe-to-toe for a second straight day Thursday.

The repeat game is courtesy of Washington’s 7-4 win over Texas in Pool B play Wednesday. Because Texas entered the game with a 2-0 record, Washington (now 3-1) must defeat Texas (now 2-1) again due to the double-elimination format. The winner on Thursday will advance to Saturday’s United States Championship Game.

Washington, meanwhile, is looking for its first appearance in the U.S. title game since 1982, when a team from Kirkland went all the way to win the World Series title with a 6-0 triumph over Chinese Taipei.

“When you’re going through the loser’s bracket, it’s tough,” Washington manager Kai Nahaku said. “This is a win that I’m used to. Everybody contributed, and that’s how we got here.”

Trailing 4-1 in the fourth, Washington put together a two-out rally and scored four times to take a 5-4 lead. Ryan Lacey cut the Washington deficit to 4-2 with an RBI single that scored Robbie Wilson and advanced Dylan Davis to second. Then the craziness began.

With Davis on second and Wilson on first, Ikaika Nahaku blooped a Jorge Gutierrez offering into left field, where Chris Leger came charging in to catch it on the fly. As Leger lunged forward, the ball went in and out of his glove, and then juggled two more times before finally falling to the ground.

With Davis having already crossed the plate for Washington’s third run and Wilson advancing to third on the play, Nahaku headed for second on Leger’s throw to third. Nahaku stopped 10 feet shy of second, however, trying to induce a throw from third baseman Blake Toler. Sure enough, the throw came, and it sailed wide of the bag and rolled all the way to the outfield wall, allowing both Wilson and Nahaku to score.

“When I was up to bat, I was looking curveball because the guy was a junk-ball pitcher,” Nahaku said. “So when he threw a fastball, I was kind of behind it and hit it off the handle.”

As for stopping short of second, he said, “that’s kind of what we do like when there’s a guy on first and third. We usually [double] steal and get in a pickle. So I was trying for that.”

Washington tacked a pair of insurance runs in the fifth, getting an RBI triple from Hudson Byorick, who also scored on the play when an errant throw to the infield went into the camera well.

“I think [the loss] will be a good thing for us at the end of the day,” said Texas manager Mike Orlando. “We just didn’t have a good game. We’ll get it figured out.”

Texas’s Beau Orlando snapped a 1-1 tie in the third with a two-run homer off Isaiah Hatch, who earned the win after striking out 12 in his 4 2/3 innings of relief.

“I just forgot about [the home run], and worried about the [next] batter,” Hatch said.

Texas jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Beau Orlando led off the game by being hit by a pitch, and two batters later advanced to second on a wild pitch. Leger was then brought in as a special pinch runner. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, and then came home when he thought the catcher’s throw to third got past Washington’s Chandler Michalek. Leger raced for the plate and beat the return throw from Michalek.

Washington tied it at 1-1 in the bottom of the second, when No 9. hitter Dylan Davis laced a two-out RBI single to center to score Wilson. With two outs and nobody on, Wilson had started the rally by reaching on an error. He then advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Washington starter Casey Manning, who threw just 20 pitches Wednesday, will get the call again Thursday. Texas, meanwhile, will send Mason Van Noort to the hill.

“We got Mason tomorrow night, and I like that hammer,” Mike Orlando said.