2012 Little League Baseball World Series
Williamsport, Pennsylvania - August 16 - 26

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Despite Losing the Title Game, Tennessee is Still a Winner

Southeast becomes first team from Tennessee in 25 years, and first to ever appear in World Series championship

Author: Samantha Ciccocioppo

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date: Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012

This year’s Little League World Series brought together two phenomenal teams from opposite sides of the globe. The first a Little League team from Tokyo, Japan and the second from Goodlettsville, Tenn. Both teams went in to the championship game undefeated, but only one could keep their record.

The team from Japan walked away with the win, scoring 12 runs to defeat the Southeast, 12-2, in Sunday’s championship game.

It was a long road for the Southeast representatives from Goodlettsville Little League. Tennessee earned their Little League berth in the regional game against usual Southeast powerhouse Warner Robins American Little League of Georgia. Goodlettsville took the win with a 1-0 victory to earn the first World
Series berth for a Tennessee team in 25 years. The last team to visit South Williamsport from Tennessee was Morristown in 1987.

"You just go out and do the best you can. They worked all winter to get to this point. All that hard work paid off."-- Southeast Manager Joey Hale

The Southeast took on the Midwest champions from Kearney, Neb., as their first opponents of the Series this year. These titans of Tennessee trounced the Midwesterners, 12-1.

With the Southeast’s key offensive players in Luke Brown, Brock Myers, Colin O’Berry, Jonathan Seals, Jake Rucker and Jayson Brown, the Midwest could only land on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning, keeping the 10-run rule in effect.

The Southeast’s second opponent would become a long-standing Williamsport rival, the team representing the West from Petaluma, California. This game proved to be a clearly matched opposition, seeing as the score remained tied up until the top of the sixth inning when the Southeast’s Brown hit a 2-RBI triple allowing the team to pull ahead, 7-5. Myers directly followed Brown with a 2-run home run, making the score 9-5. The West would go on to score one more run, but that clearly was not enough to shut down this remarkable Southeast team.

The team then moved on to a Wednesday evening game facing the Southwest champions from San Antonio, Texas. Tennessee may have felt uneasy against the team from the West, but this game proved an even bigger attack of the nerves. Southeast trailed 3-2 going into the top of the sixth inning, but this team from Goodlettsville certainly delivered with a steal by Rucker and an RBI single by Cole Carter. This team came to play some ball. Bottom of the sixth the Southwest came back with a run of their own, but the Southeast’s pitching was just too hot to handle as they won, 4-3.

Southeast moved in to the United States Championship game against their former competitors of the West. Now this game will go down as one of the best in Little League World Series history. While the final score of 24-16 was impressive in terms of being a baseball score, it was not even the most remarkable part. As many were ready to leave Lamade Stadium or switch the television channel after seeing a score of 15-5 in the sixth inning, it looked like a clear Southeast rout. However, an unbelievable comeback with 10 runs allowed the West to stick around and force extra innings, tied at 15-all after six. The Southeast showed the world just what they were made of, countering the West’s recent runs with nine of their own to end the game.

“We just went through a roller coaster,” said Southeast manager Joey Hale.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the West could only manage one run, making this year’s United States champions the team from Goodlettsville, Tennessee.

“The message will be you never gave up,” said West manager Eric Smith after the loss on Saturday. “It was a great effort. We thought we had a chance. I’m happy we made a good effort at the end of the game.”

Now not only was this team from Goodlettsville the first from Tennessee in 25 years to make it to the Little League World Series, but now they were in the World Series Championship game, the first time a team from Tennessee has ever advanced to that stage, against a talented team from Tokyo, Japan.

Sunday’s game was the perfect setting for some baseball. The sky was sunny with spots of clouds and the kids were ready to play. The Southeast had proved themselves a dominating force, but they simply could not stand up to the powerhouse team that is Japan. The Southeast fell 12-2 to Japan in just five innings, enacting the 10-run rule. Southeast pitcher Justin Smith pitched admirably even when facing the toughest team in the world. Smith struck out three players, allowed five runs and seven hits over three innings.

“You just go out and do the best you can,” said Hale. “They worked all winter to get to this point. All that hard work paid off.”

So while this team from Goodlettsville may not have been handed the "World Champions" banner this year, they certainly left their mark on the world and are looking forward to heading home where their run as champions is not nearly over. The Southeast’s Little Leaguers are expected to make a visit to Vanderbilt
University in Nashville, Tenn., this Thursday night for their season opener against South Carolina.