|Photo Courtesy of Patrick Tewey Photography|
I'm not writing this one like an article. I'm not writing this one like a recap. I don't know what to do. We've seen wild games like this before at the Little League World Series, but this one just feels different.
Westport, Connecticut trailed Eastlake, Washington 13-6 in the bottom of the fifth inning with one out. I almost gave up on the game in the top of the fifth inning. In fact, I had to run out and didn't start watching the game on my phone until I heard that Alex Reiner hit a three-run homer to make it 13-9.
Now, I had the game on while I'm driving and hear the Max Popken home run that made it 13-12. At least point, I pulled over to watch on the WatchESPN app. Then, Chad Knight blasted a no-doubt home run to tie it up.
It was incredible.
Then, Knight makes the double play in the top of the seventh, and of course, he comes through in the bottom of the seventh with the walk-off single to give Westport a 14-13 victory. Most of those plays from Chad Knight are expected. He's the face of this team during the World Series.
What made this game special was that everyone else came through for Westport as well. Ricky Offenberg was moved to the top of the order after having a big week in Bristol and Williamsport. It paid off with a homer, triple, and double (which set up Knight's game winner).
Max Popken, one of the best players on the team, was somewhere around 2-for-20 since the beginning of the regional and also had a rough outing on the mound against California. He hit the home run to make it 13-12 and also threw huge innings on the mound in relief. He allowed one run in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Alex Reiner who should get the "Where Did He Come From?!" Award has been a battler at the plate and on the mound all week at the LLWS. He closed it out and got the win by inducing a double play and also hit a surprise home run in the big comeback.
Drew Rogers had two hits and Tatin Llamas homered. Ten players had hits in the game. It was a complete team effort.
Eastlake, Washington had a similar team performance. Jack Carper and Dalton Chandler continued to power the offense at the top with three hits each. Zach Olson had a double and a triple all within one inning off the bench. Eastlake not only hit the cover off the ball top to bottom in the fourth inning, they did it against Harry Azadian, who hadn't been hit like that ever before.
This was one of the best Northwest teams I've seen in a while.
Westport, Connecticut now gets its rematch with Eastlake, California. Chad Knight will take the hill and try and shut down the big bats of Chula Vista once again. Eastlake will have Nick Mora on the mound. It should be a pitcher's duel. This SHOULD NOT look like today's game or last year's U.S. championship game (a 24-18 victory by Goodlettsville, Tennessee).
Prediction Record: 21-7 Overall
Predictions: Mexico over Japan 4-3, California over Connecticut 3-2.
Facts & Figures
3- Times a team from New England has advanced to the U.S. championship game since 2001 (all by walk-off hit/home run)
0- Times a team from the East Region has won a U.S. title since Toms River won in 1998.
6- Straight times a team from the West has played for the U.S. title
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