Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Little League World Series Preview (2014)


Jackie Robinson West (Chicago), Illinois

Overall 2014 Record: 14-0
Great Lakes Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 11-24

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 1.80
Team K/6: 9.4
Team Batting Avg: .473 (12 of 13 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 0.83

Key Players: Marquis Jackson (.600, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 11 R), Pierce Jones (.750, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 12 R), Trey Hondras (.474, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 9 R)

Overview: Jackie Robinson West puts a ton of pressure on teams with its base running up and down the lineup, but the big three hitters are scary good. Six players took the ball out of the yard during regionals, and five different pitchers started games. Brandon Green has big strikeout ability (11 K in 5 innings) and Jackson is a beast in relief (mid-70s fastball). This team has the potential to be the best Great Lakes team in a decade or more and one of the most fun to watch.


Pacific (Lynnwood), Washington

Overall 2014 Record: 16-2
Northwest Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 20-18 (Without Hawaii, 15-16)

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 1.45
Team K/6: 9.4
Team Batting Avg: .341 (7 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 1.67

Key Players: Tyler Durbin (.667, 1 HR, 8 RBI)

Overview: Pacific isn't a team that is dominant by any stretch and they certainly don't have any dominant individual players. Pacific is also a singles hitting team. They only had three home runs in the regional (nobody with more than one). Pacific relies on Ian Michael on the mound along with Logan Kruse, but the rest of the staff performed well during the regional. Eastlake, Washington was a huge surprise in Williamsport last year. If this team matched that 3-2 performance, it would be a surprise as well.

Canyon Lake (Rapid City), South Dakota
Overall 2014 Record: 12-0
Midwest Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 4-30

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 4.26
Team K/6: 7.3
Team Batting Avg: .431 (9 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 0.67

Key Players: Dylan Richey (.667, 5 HR, 22 RBI), Bridger Nesbit (.522, 1 HR, 4 2B, 7 RBI), Matthew Hegre (.500, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 14 R)

Overview: The Midwest is the weakest region in the United States by far with just four wins in 12 years. Canyon Lake rolled through the Midwest regional (without beating Minnesota) and they did it with their offense. Dylan Richey is on fire at the plate and he has some table setters ahead of him. The pitching staff didn't get it done, but the defense behind them did with only four errors total in the regional. That's impressive. With the type of pitching Canyon Lake expects to see in Williamsport, I can't see them making a run at all this year, however.


Mountain Ridge (Las Vegas), Nevada

Overall 2014 Record: 14-0
West Pool Play/Double Elim Record (Since 2002): 32-9

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 1.23
Team K/6: 8.2
Team Batting Avg: .338 (9 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 1.33

Key Players: Austin Kryszczuk (.429, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 12 R. 19 K, 1.09 ERA)

Overview: Kryszczuk is the type of player that could enter LLWS lore. He carries Mountain Ridge with his arm and his bat. Add in big time players like Brennan Holligan and Bradley Stone and you have a potential World Series champion. Kryszczuk and Holligan are both big and strong and have the goods to lead the way. While Jackie Robinson West is expected to be strong, historically this is an easy path to the U.S. title game for a West squad.


Taney Youth Baseball Association (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania

Overall 2014 Record: 17-2
Mid-Atlantic Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 15-22

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 2.72
Team K/6: 8.0
Team Batting Avg: .336 (7 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 0.67

Key Players: Jahli Hendricks (.611, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 9 R), Jared Sprague-Lott (.533, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 7 R), Mo'Ne Davis (2-0, 1 SV, 17 Ks in 12 IP)

Overview: The story of the regionals was Mo'Ne Davis and her dominant pitching performance in the championship game, but she actually has a higher ERA than the team average. The staff is deep with Sprague-Lott and Richardson as capable starters. Lipson and Cummings are solid in relief. Offensively, this team has good home run power with Zion Spearman looking to get on track. Leading up to the regional he was the scariest hitter on the team. Statistics and history don't back up a deep run for Taney in the World Series, however.


South Nashville, Tennessee

Overall 2014 Record: 11-1
Southeast Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 25-14

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 4.25
Team K/6: 9.0
Team Batting Avg: .337 (6 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 0.83

Key Players: Sam Slaughter (.533, 3 HR, 12 RBI), Blake Money (.385, 1 HR, 4 RBI), Robert Hassell (.385, 1 HR, 2 RBI)

Overview: Statistically, this is not the greatest Southeast team. The ERA is through the roof, and the offense is ranked one of the lowest in the LLWS. This is still a team that was here a year ago with experienced coaches and two players back. Money and Hassell are both solid on the mound and Slaughter has been hitting the heck out of the baseball. An opening game against the media darlings could go either way. The result will be a big determination of this team's fate.


Pearland East, Texas East

Overall 2014 Record: 15-0
Southwest Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 23-12

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 2.14
Team K/6: 7.71
Team Batting Avg: .307 (4 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 1.8

Key Players: Clayton Broeder (.500, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 9 R), Jonathan Newman (8.2 IP, 11Ks, 0.00 ERA)

Overview: Pearland was the best team in the Southwest Region and played the toughest schedule, possibly of anyone in the country. Maybe that's the reason they don't have great statistics because this team is not impressive on paper except for the where they come from. As a team they barely hit .300, they didn't hit for a ton of extra base hits, and they made almost two errors per game. Jon Newman didn't allow a run in two victories, but had less than 1 1/2 strikeouts per inning. Bryce Laird, Brandon Sliwinski, and Broeder each hit over .500 to lead the team. Michael Groover led the team in XBH with four, all doubles. He also had nine RBI to lead the team.


Cumberland American, Rhode Island

Overall 2014 Record: 12-1
New England Pool Play/Dbl Elim (Since 2002): 18-19

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 3.74
Team K/6: 6.2
Team Batting Avg: .380 (7 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 0.83

Key Players: Addison Kopack (.474, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 10 R), Jayden Struble (.619, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 12 R)

Overview: Coach Belisle said before the regionals that this team would need to hit its way to a regional title and it did. The top seven hitters all hit .333 or better and six of them are well over .400. The only reason Cumberland isn't the best hitting team overall is because the subs and the starters who get subbed out have all struggled. The five of them have a total of four hits. Cumberland can win a few games if the bats get deep into some pitching staffs, and the top two or three starters are definitely serviceable.


Opening Round: Great Lakes over Northwest, West over Midwest, Southeast over Mid-Atlantic, Southwest over New England.

Winners Bracket: West over Great Lakes, Southwest over Southeast

Losers Bracket: Northwest over Midwest, Mid-Atlantic over New England

Losers Bracket Round: Southeast over Northwest, Great Lakes over Mid-Atlantic

Winners Bracket Final: West over Southwest

Losers Bracket Semis: Great Lakes over Southeast

Losers Bracket Final: Southwest over Great Lakes

U.S. Championship: West over Southwest

World Championship: Japan over West

Random Thoughts: This has potential to be a great World Series. There's plenty of storylines and intrigue. The West Region is the favorite, but Nevada has NEVER been the LLWS before. South Nashville is back for a second straight year and neither time did they dominate on the road to Williamsport, but they're always solid. The West has won five of the last six US championships and six overall since 2002. They've appeared in 8 of the 12 since the field expanded to eight US teams. Southeast has won four titles over those 12 years with the Northwest (Hawaii, who's no longer in Northwest) and Great Lakes each have one. The Mid-Atlantic and Midwest have never reached the U.S. championship game since the field expanded in 2002. New England has reached the final three times including last year.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Taney Youth Baseball is Headed to Williamsport

Courtesy of Paul Alesse, LiSPN.com
Commentary by John Malone


There's not much else to say about the Taney Youth Baseball Association and its rise to the Little League World Series.

I heard about this team during its run through districts because they knocked off the 10-year old state champions, Media. The immediate though was, "Cool. We don't get to see city teams do well in Little League too often." Then, I started reading up on the team. I started following Taney's games on GameChanger. The Dragons looked like a team of destiny, but they didn't thoroughly dominate everyone. In a state as tough as Pennsylvania to get through, it was easy to think they'd be tripped up somewhere.

They made it to the state tournament with powerful teams. Everyone in the area, and a few more who follow the blog, knew that they had Mo'Ne Davis and that she supposedly had some talent. Between the big bats of Red Land, the dominance of Collier Township, the coaching of Mike Mussina and Montoursville, there was no way I wasn't going to take the chance to drive over two hours from home in New York to see the first day or two of the Pennsylvania State Tournament.

I immediately was blown away by most of the teams at Lower Perkiomen Little League. I hadn't seen a ton of baseball admittedly this year, but two or three teams looked worthy of a regional run. I wasn't sure if Taney was even one of them that first day, a 9-3 victory over Clarion, with Mo'Ne on the mound and not showing great command.

I heard about her being the best pitcher in the state of Pennsylvania in the news. I heard about her throwing 70 miles per hour. What I saw in just a couple innings didn't support that. It certainly didn't feel that way when I saw Jared Sprague-Lott, her own teammate, throw and the big arms of Kai Cummings and Joe Richardson. Boy.. or should I say, girl was I wrong.

I got to see Mo'Ne pitch against the defending regional champions during pool play with four very good hitters back with Williamsport experience. She completely dominated for five innings. She was throwing harder than I remembered. She had command of all her pitches, and wow her swagger was on point. Nothing bothered her. Meanwhile, the boys in the batters box did not look comfortable at all. She was lights out.

She allowed two home runs in the sixth inning of that game against Delaware. Then, she picked up the save in the semifinal against Colonie, New York, but gave up a two-run homer in the process. That plus seeing her for six innings earlier in the week should've erased any mental edge she had over Delaware and based on the swings I saw in the championship it did. It also didn't matter. She flat out dominated the game once again on the back of her talent and watched her cool and calm defense make play after play until the final double play ended the game.

I didn't buy into the Taney hype in the beginning. There were murmurs about the kids being from all over Philadelphia. They're not. They're from a couple neighborhoods in and around Center City. They all go to the schools in the same area and they've all been playing Taney Youth Baseball (plus their various travel ball including the NJ Arsenal and Anderson Monarchs) for years together. After seeing them play for three weeks and getting to know parents and players. I bought in.

Taney is a team. They have table setters at the top. They have two big time starting pitchers with a crafty reliever along with two powerful right arms in the pen. They are scary hitters throughout the lineup especially the murderers row of Jahli Hendricks, Sprague-Lott, and Zion Spearman, and they have a defense that doesn't make many mistakes. They could easily go two-and-out in Williamsport or they could find themselves in the U.S. Championship game. The rest of the road doesn't matter. They reached the promised land and it was unreal to watch.

I enjoyed meeting everyone from every team in Bristol this year. The success of this blog has made it a lot of fun to hear from players, coaches, and parents every day on the Road to Williamsport. The Taney kids are a big part of that. When Taney gets the bulk of the media coverage in Williamsport just remember that it has nothing to do with the kids or even their adults. It's the culture we live in. Just have fun with it. I'm telling you this group is worth watching and getting to know.

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Region Semifinal Recaps

No. 2 Taney (PA) 6, No. 3 Colonie (NY) 5

What a game between Pennsylvania and New York. Colonie shocked the heavy favorites with a
Courtesy of Paul Alesse, LiSPN.com
three-run lead early thanks to double after double by Colin McDonough, Jakob Lemperle, and Ian Parker. Jimmy Davis added an RBI single in the fourth to make it 3-0. Taney wouldn't be denied for long. After Jahli Hendricks and Jared Sprague-Lott got on, Zion Spearman finally uncorked a home run to tie the game. In the fifth, Mo'Ne Davis and Hendricks both reached by error and Sprague-Lott looped a double over the bag into short right field scoring everyone. Jack Rice added an RBI single which turned out to a be huge third run.

In the sixth, Taney went to Mo'Ne Davis to close it out. After giving up a leadoff walk, she got two outs, but Lemperle continued his tear with a two-run homer to left centerfield to bring Colonie within one, but Davis got out of trouble with the third out sending Taney to the regional final.

No. 4 Newark National (DE) 4, No. 1 Toms River (NJ) 3

What a ball game.

Jack Hardcastle dominated a good-hitting New Jersey team with 5 innings of two-hit baseball. Newark led 2-0 heading to the sixth on the back of an error which scored Brett Callahan and then a Callahan RBI single in the fifth. Newark added two huge runs in the sixth against Toms River's ace, Jon Giordano. Jason Dauerty (2-for-3) had an infield single and scored on a passed ball, Brandon Sengphachanh (2-for-3) singled, and Wyatt Minner ripped a single to score the important fourth run.

Toms River to its credit didn't die. They haven't all summer long. Hardcastle walked Vinny Rose and Giordano before getting relieved by A.J. Blanchard. Connor Cino ripped a two-run double to make it 4-2 with nobody out. He came around to score on an RBI single by Christian Wood. Jason Kapp singled to put two on and two out for Kayla Roncin, but Blanchard induced a ground out to send Newark National to its third straight regional championship.

Check back for a Mid-Atlantic Region championship tomorrow morning!

Little League New England Region Championship Preview

No. 2 Cumberland American, Rhode Island (4-1) vs. No. 1 Fairfield American, Connecticut (4-1)

Courtesy of Paul Alesse, LiSPN.com
As expected from the beginning of the tournament, we have the two tournament favorites in the championship game. While Rhode Island started the tournament like an unstoppable force, they've come back to earth a bit. Connecticut, on the other hand, is trending upwards.

Cumberland Offense vs. P.J. Egan: Connecticut's number one pitcher, P.J. Egan, should be on the hill for Connecticut to face the powerful lineup of Rhode Island. If he reaches his pitch limit, Brian Howell is available, and he throws hard. Egan isn't overpowering by any means, but he's a pitcher. He allowed four hits and one run in the walk-off victory over Rhode Island in the first meeting. His ERA this week is 3.17, but he has had great wins over very good teams like the 2-1 victory over Farmington CT and a 4-2 victory over Norwalk CT, both teams worthy of a regional final. Rhode Island's offense is really strong. Hitters 1-6 are what I would call scary. Then you add guys like Trey Bourque at the bottom of the lineup and there are no free outs.
Addison Kopack has been the best hitter in the New England Region Tournament. Jayden Struble came up big against Maine in the semifinal. Rhode Island NEEDS him to have a big game. Nick Croteau is great at the top of the order but has been on a bit of a cold streak.

Fairfield Offense vs. Nick Croteau: Rhode Island will most likely go with Croteau (or C.J. Davock). Croteau hasn't allowed an earned run yet in three appearances in the regional and started game one. Both have good velocity but aren't overpowering either. Fairfield hasn't hit for a ton of power, but Jamie "Ralphie" Flink and Howell have left the yard recently including Flink's walk-off homer to beat Rhode Island and his first-inning homer against Massachusetts. Vince Camera has been the team's slugger up until the regional. It would be a perfect time to bust out.
Courtesy of Paul Alesse, LiSPN.com

Bottom Line: This is as even of a game as you can get. Neither team beats itself on defense. Both should pitch well. It will come down to timely hitting and getting extra base runners through patience. These two programs have been here before. This is the third time they've faced each other since 2010 in elimination games. Fairfield went to Williamsport with a victory over Cumberland in 2010. Cumberland upset Fairfield in the semis in 2011 en route to the LLWS. Fairfield advanced to Williamsport in 2012, but Cumberland wasn't part of the regional that year.

This year, there's no clear favorite. Neither team is dominant at all. They're both just solid ball clubs that will play a great game tonight. Pitching and defense always beat good hitting, but in this matchup there isn't a pitching advantage, at least not by much. I'm going to stick with my pre-tournament pick.

Prediction: Rhode Island 5, Connecticut 3

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New England Semifinal Recaps (2014)

No. 2 Cumberland American (RI) 13, No. 3 Falmouth (ME) 4, (8 inn.)

For Cumberland, it doesn't get much scarier than today's game against Falmouth. The Maine champions, who were ranked last in my rankings at one point this week, brought their A game for television once again. Michael Simmonds loves the spotlight. With a home run to secure the three seed earlier in the week and then an incredible pitching performance (5 innings, 2 earned runs, five hits) against a lineup like Cumberland's. At one point, he retired nine straight and 11 of 12. He also had a two-run single to tie the game in the fifth.

With the game tied 4-4, Cumberland loaded the bases in the 8th with a walk, single from Jayden Struble, and a hit batter. Tyler Provost drew an RBI-walk to break the tie and Sean Meers ripped a two-run single to break the game open, but it didn't end there. Trey Bourque added an RBI-single to his two-run home run in the second inning. Nick Croteau had an infield single and then Struble hammered a three-run homer to put the game away for good.

Falmouth played an unbelievable game and tournament. Alex Smith went 3-for-4 with an RBI. He had a huge walkoff homer earlier this week. Ike Kiely had a pair of hits, and Sam Manganello had the game-tying single in the sixth. Falmouth also took home the Bob Watson Sportsmanship Award for the entire East Region. From everything I heard and saw, it was deserved. Great group. Paul Alesse of LiSPN who takes the officials photos of the tournament captured an amazing shot of Kiely in the eighth inning.

By scoring nine runs in the eighth inning, Cumberland was able to get Croteau out of the game at the 35-pitch threshold for the final. They'll also have C.J. Davock available.

Photo Courtesy of LISPN.com

No. 1 Fairfield American (CT) 9, No. 4 Barnstable Tom Wallace American (MA) 0

If you had to choose one of the two semifinals that would be tough on the favorite, you would've expected it to be this one. While Fairfield has been strong all week long, Barnstable has looked tough with its ace Wyatt Scotti on the mound, even dating back to the state final when Barnstable upset Holden.

Today, Fairfield showed why the league has been to the Little League World Series twice since 2010. They bring it in the big games. Connecticut scored three runs on four hits in the first inning including another opposite field home run from Jamie "Ralphie" Flink (2-for-3). Jack Steed (2-for-3, 3 RBI) continued his hot streak with a ribbie single. In the second inning, Fairfield added five more hits, all singles. Connecticut added another pair of runs off a two-run blast by Brian Howell (3-for-4). Eight of Fairfield's 11 players had a hit. It was an impressive performance.

Defensively, Fairfield was flawless and Sam Davenport found his groove on the mound allowing no runs on three hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five. Connecticut went to Howell to get the final four outs.

For Barnstable, Nick Wilson was 2-for-2.

We'll have a complete New England Regional Championship Preview article tomorrow night. Make sure you check back for that one.

Prediction Results- For the third consecutive year, I got the final two teams in the region correct. For the third consecutive time, I've also missed just one of the semifinalists. This year, it was subbing New Hampshire for Maine. A walk-off home run in that game was the difference. I chose Rhode Island to win the region from the beginning. We'll see if that changes in the New England Regional Final Preview tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

2014 East Region Tournament: Day 5 Recap

Live Scoring

Toms River (NJ) 10, West Salisbury (MD) 5

Coming off a no-hitter and sitting in a great playoff position win-or-lose during this game, Maryland came out hot. West Salisbury put up four in the first inning off Toms River's #2 pitcher, Phil Antoniotti. As he usually does, Antoniotti settled down and didn't allow another run. New Jersey crept back in the game and exploded for five runs in the fifth to take a 7-4 lead. A Blake Corbin home run in the fifth got Maryland back within two, but Toms River added three more insurance runs. Christian Wood was 3-for-3 with an RBI. Chris Baker came off the bench to record three RBI including a two-run single in the fifth. Connor Cino had two hits, two runs, and an RBI for Jersey as well. Wood and Nick DeRose were solid in relief.

New Jersey is now in the driver's seat for the top seed (after Pennsylvania lost) and has Wood, DeRose, Jon Giordano (1-for-1, 2 walks, HBP today) available for the game with Delaware. Maryland, but virtue of New York's victory is eliminated. West Salisbury's defense hurt early in the tournament, but Maryland was definitely dealt a bad hand by missing the sixth place team, D.C. Ryan Mitchell and Dylan Smith did a great job leading the team this week.

Falmouth (ME) 9, Barnstable (MA) 4

Maine chose the best time to put up its best performance of the tournament. Falmouth is one of the most athletic teams in the region, but sometimes they don't put it all together. Today, they did. The defense was much sharper than usual and everyone came up with big hits. Brady Douglas (2-for-4) came through with a two-run single in the sixth to break a 3-3 tie with one out. Josh LeFevre added an RBI
Photo courtesy of Paul Alesse, LiSPN.com
single and then Michael Simonds blasted a three-run homer to left to put the game away. Francis Kiely was a spark plug in the leadoff spot with three hits including a double. Barnstable falls to 1-2 in the tournament and is basically in a playoff game with New Hampshire now.

Falmouth at 2-2 will wait for other games to shake out to find out its position. Barring anything crazy with Rhode Island losing a second time, Maine should be in. There's a small chance of a four-way tie for three spots right now.

Fairfield American (CT) 5, Cumberland American (RI) 3
The best game of the day was a probable championship preview. Connecticut started its ace PJ Egan. He went three innings giving up one run on four hits. Brian Howell allowed just two hits in his 1 1/3 innings of relief and no earned runs. Ian Bentley closed it out and actually grabbed the win with 1 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball. All of those numbers are incredibly impressive considering how imposing Rhode Island's offense has been.

Cumberland took a 3-2 lead in the fifth, but Bentley hit a two-out double and then Jack Steed (3-for-3) drove him in to tie the game. In the sixth, with two outs again, Jamie Flink lofted a two-run walk-off homer to left centerfield.

Colonie (NY) 5, Taney (PA) 3

It looked like yet another Taney victory early on. Joe Richardson was dominating the Colonie lineup with an overpower fastball and a nasty off speed pitch. Jack Rice, Richardson, and Carter Davis each hit an RBI double in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead. It took just one inning to swing the momentum. Zane Nelsen settled in on the mound for New York and continued to let his "gravity ball" just tickle the paint on the outer corner. He had a 14-pitch third inning with no hits against the meat of the order and then Richardson walked a pair in the bottom of the inning. With frustration setting in, Richardson took something off his fastball and left it in the zone for Jakob Lemperle to hammer the other way for a game-tying three-run homer.

Taney never figured Nelsen out and it stayed that way until the fifth inning when Lemperle ripped an RBI triple and then scored on a passed ball to take a 5-3 lead into the sixth. Nelsen got through 5 2/3 innings including strikeouts of Taney's ultra dangerous four and five hitters in his final two batters. Lemperle came on for the final out and got it easily. The victory clinched a playoff spot for New York and shook up the seeding for everyone.

East Region Rankings after Day 4

1. New Jersey (3-0)

2. Pennsylvania (2-1)

3. Rhode Island (2-1)

4. Delaware (2-1)

5. Connecticut (3-1)

6. New York (2-2)

7. Maine (2-2)

8. New Hampshire (1-2)

9. Vermont (1-2)

10. Maryland (1-3)

11. Massachusetts (1-2)

12. Washington D.C. (0-3)

Random Thoughts: The four spots are set in the Mid-Atlantic. We just don't know the order. If New Jersey beats Delaware and Pennsylvania beats D.C., it'll be New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware. If Delaware wins or Pennsylvania loses... things get a little crazy. Pennsylvania didn't go for the jugular today and they could've. That may cost them a significantly easier semifinal opponent. On the New England side, Connecticut is the one seed. The winner of New Hampshire and Massachusetts is in essence a play-in game, assuming Rhode Island beats Vermont. If Williston can knock Rhode Island off that would create a four-way tie for second, third, fourth, and the odd team out at 2-2.

Home Run Meter: 20 (Last Year: 18, Previous Year: 21)

Strikeout Meter: 243 (Last Year: 267, Previous Year: 235)

Prediction Record: 1-3 (Overall: 14-6, clinched a worse record than last year (25-5) with that performance)

Wednesday's Predictions: Delaware over New Jersey 7-5, New Hampshire over Massachusetts 6-4, Rhode Island over Vermont 13-3, and Pennsylvania over D.C. 11-1. 


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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

2014 East Region: Day 4 Recap/Predictions


Newark National (DE) 9, Northwest Washington (DC) 4

Newark got a pretty solid scare from D.C. today when Northwest scored four runs in the fourth inning without the benefit of a ball hit to the outfield. In fact, Northwest doesn't have an extra-base hit this entire tournament. The D.C. pitching and defense continue to keep games close though and today was no different. Dylan Waldner kept Delaware in check for most of the game, but Newark's bats woke up a bit. Brett Callahan was 3-for-4 with a two-run double. Brandon Sengphachanh was 2-for-3 with a home run, double and two RBI. It was his second home run of the tournament, tying him for the lead. Jason Dauerty cranked a triple, and David Hawtof added an RBI double in the sixth to create some breathing room. Neither team is in, neither team is out.

Barnstable (MA) 7, Williston (VT) 2

I'm sure Massachusetts feels much better now after Game 2. The 25-5 drubbing at the hands of Rhode Island certainly wasn't indicative of this team's talent.

"We took one on the chin in districts, almost took one in sections, and took one on the chin in states. (Against Rhode Island), we took it on the chin, torso, and the legs. It was brutal," Barnstable manager Joe Burke said. "I don't know what it is that makes us need to wake up."

Having ace Wyatt Scotti on the mound certainly helped. Scotti was almost perfect with 4 1/3 innings pitched, no runs, one hit, five strikeouts, and no walks. Barnstable pulled him at 50 pitches for the semifinals with a 7-0 lead. He added an RBI double at the plate. The substitutes all reached base at least once and scored including a huge two-run triple from Jack "Babe" Ruth, who wears number three.

For Vermont, Aidan Johnson and Griffin McDermott had RBIs in the sixth, but never truly threatened against Scotti. Both teams are still alive.

West Salisbury (MD) 5, Colonie (NY) 0  (NO-HITTER)

Maryland needed a win in the worst way and much like Massachuetts, West Salisbury found comfort in its ace. Dylan Smith looked unhittable against Colonie and he was. After a shaky first inning or two with control issue, Smith settled into a groove and went 4 2/3 innings of no runs, no hits, eight strikeouts, and three walks. Ethan Peterman came in and finished the no-hitter with four straight outs to end the game. The win puts New York's playoff hopes in serious jeopardy. Maryland, on the other hand, has the inside track at a semifinal spot now, even with a loss.

Maryland took a 1-0 lead in the third with a double from Jacob Long (3-for-3, two runs) and an RBI from Ryan Mitchell. Then in the fourth, Mitchell added a three run triple with two outs to break the game open.

The win certainly calms some of the turmoil from two tough losses, and really puts Maryland in charge of its own destiny. New York on the other hand has had a really rough week at the plate. Colonie scored 50+ runs in three games in the state tournament against two quality teams, but all of a sudden can't even hit the ball hard. Now, New York needs a win over unbeaten Pennsylvania to stay in it.

Cumberland American (RI) 10, Goffstown Jr. Baseball (NH) 0, (4 inn.)

Courtesy of Paul Alesse, LiSPN.com
Despite winning 10-0 in four innings, Cumberland showed its first signs of slowing down with just three runs over the final three innings. The hard-hitting boys from Rhode Island put up a seven spot in the first inning with laced line drive after line drive including a double from Addison Kopack that bounced over the six-foot fence. That's how hard it was hit. Kopack hit a solo homer in the second inning into the trees and added a double in the fourth. Cumberland's solid pitching staff allowed just three hits.

They're far and away the best team in New England. If anyone else wins the region it'll be a travesty. We still need to see Rhode Island hit against an ace pitcher and it's not clear if their pitching can hold up at the next level, but the bats seem legit 1-9.

East Region Rankings After Day 4

1. Pennsylvania (2-0)

2. Rhode Island (2-0)

3. New Jersey (2-0)

4. Delaware (2-1)

5. Connecticut (2-1)

6. Massachusetts (1-1)

7. Maryland (1-2)

8. New Hampshire (1-2)

9. New York (1-2)

10. Vermont (1-2)

11. Washington D.C. (0-3)

12. Maine (1-2)

Random Thoughts: It's incredible what your ace on the mound can do for your team's confidence. Massachusetts and Maryland looked completely different from their previous outings and not just because of the pitching itself. Everything about them looked better. The television games begin on Tuesday for New England which has Massachusetts and Rhode Island playing three games in three days with the semifinals to follow on the fourth day. That's a terrible schedule. Hopefully it doesn't burn anyone.

Home Run Meter: 16 (Last Year: 13, Previous Year: 17)

Strikeout Meter: 203 (Last Year: 206, Previous Year: 200)

Prediction Record: 3-1 (Overall: 13-3, Last Year: 12-4 after a 1-3 day)

Tuesday's Predictions: New Jersey over Maryland 9-3, Massachusetts over Maine 8-4, Rhode Island over Connecticut 7-5, and Pennsylvania over New York 7-1.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

2014 Eastern Region: Day 3 Recap


Courtesy of  Paul Alesse, LiSPN.com

Taney (PA) 8, Newark National (DE) 4

The first game of the tournament between two teams that can win this thing had an excitement in the air on Sunday morning. It could've had something to do with the fact that Mo'Ne Davis was getting the start against a team with Little League World Series veterans. Davis looked cool and calm during her warm up routine and that unflappable swagger continued right into the game. Davis induced a pop up and struck out Delaware's two best hitters to start the game and she did it with a fastball that gets into the mid to upper sixties and a curveball that she puts where she wants. She took a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts into the sixth inning as Taney dominated the game with an 8-1 lead. Davis lost some zip on her fastball by the sixth inning and the third time through the order Jack Hardcastle and Brandon Sengphachanh hit back-to-back homers to make it 8-4. Joe Richardson came into get the final out of the game though and preserve the 8-4 victory. Jared Sprague-Lott blasted his tournament-leading second home run. Jahli Hendrick was 3-for-3. He's now 6-for-6 in two games. Newark National committed four errors. Three of which were pretty uncharacteristic. One was a rocket by Zion Spearman that anyone would've had trouble getting in front of at shortstop. Spearman, Taney's most feared hitter, is actually hitless this weekend so far.

Check out the rest after the jump!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 Eastern Region: Day 2 Recap

Check out the tournament previews HERE and HERE

Catch the Day 1 Recap HERE

Taney (PA) 11, West Salisbury (MD) 1, 4 innings

Pennylvania began its tournament on Saturday morning with an impressive showing against Maryland. Jared Sprague-Lott threw 2 2/3 innings of no-hit ball and it wasn't even the sharpest I've seen him (he walked four). Jack Rice and Sprague-Lott each homered and Jahli Hendricks was 3-for-3 with two doubles. As expected, they're in the top two in the region, but we'll know a lot more in the morning.

Check out the rest after the jump!

2014 Eastern Region: Day 1 Recap

Newark National (DE) 13, West Salisbury (MD) 7

This game looked like it would be a laugher by the third inning as Newark banged out nine hits in the second and third innings and scored 13 runs. The game wasn't super crisp with nine total errors (Little League only charged seven), but West Salisbury battled to the end. It's pitching only allowed three hits in the other four innings combined and Maryland struck out 12 batters total. Seth Abbey did a nice job in relief. Delaware's pitching wasn't the sharpest, but the staff threw strikes all day. Newark's four returning players were as good as expected, but the support cast showed they can hit the ball. Delaware definitely has some depth. My assessment after this one though? I'm sticking with my 0-4, and 2-2 predictions.

Check out the rest after the jump!

Friday, August 1, 2014

LIVE Scores for ALL 8 Regionals in one spot!

Check out all eight regional scoreboards from Game Changer right here in one place so you know what's happening across the country. Bookmark the link and share it!

2014 New England Regional Tournament Preview

Check out the 2013 New England Region Preview right here to see how I did last summer. Like the Mid-Atlantic last year, I correctly picked both finalists. In New England? I had the champion picked from the get-go. As usual, I whiffed on one semifinal team. This year feels like it will be tougher to gauge. Let's get into it.

Check out the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Tournament Preview right here

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Okay, enough peddling... The preview comes after the jump....

Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 Mid-Atlantic Region Preview

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Check out my 2013 Mid-Atlantic Region Preview to see how I did last year. I can tell you too. I picked the two finalists correctly, and three of the four semifinalists. I missed DC, obviously. However, my individual picks, I had both semifinals correct and the championship correct (I changed my pick as the tournament went on to Delaware). Overall I was 25-5 for the entire East Regional. Okay, enough back patting. Here we go...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Roundup: Girl Power Helps Toms River Win NJ State Title (7/28/14)

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New Jersey

Kayla Roncin is the third girl to win a state championship this year (that we know of) and she was a main cog in Toms River's 7-6 victory over Ocean City/Upper Township during the "if game" of the state title series. Roncin broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run smash earlier in the game and then picked up the save on the mound facing a 2-0 count and the bases juiced. She needed just one pitch to induce a short fly ball to centerfield that starting pitcher Jon Giordano chased down and laid out for to set off the celebration. Giordano, Toms River's big star, pitched 5 1/3 innings and struck out 12. He was intentionally or unintentially walked seven straight times in two days at the plate.



Newark National won its fourth straight state championship, a new record in the state of Delaware, with a 10-5 victory over a very tough Woodbridge squad. AJ Blanchard blanked Woodbridge three days to reach the state title game, and then in today's "if game" he cranked two home runs to lead Newark to victory. Jack Hardcastle got the start and ripped a double. David Hawtof and Brett Callahan closed the game out. Callahan had a big double as well.

Random Thoughts: There's just one more spot left in the regional field. It's Massachusetts. That game is tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. Once all the champions are named, I'll get to work on my Mid-Atlantic and New England Regional previews. Then the day-to-day in-depth posts. It's the best coverage of a Little League Regional tournament anywhere. Don't worry other regions, we'll still be checking in with you before Williamsport regularly. As usual, if you're going to see every game at another regional tournament and would like to write for us, just send me an email at section1guycom@aol.com.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's Title Sunday! Only 10 Spots Left! (7/27/14)

There's only 10 spots left in the regionals. We've filled 42 of them. All ten of the remaining slots could be filled on Sunday (barring weather or "if" games on Monday). Let's look back at Saturday's action and see what happened.

West Virginia

There's a great chance for at least three girls (that we know of so far) to reach the regionals around the country. The first secured her spot by doing it on the mound. Emily Riggs pitched Bridgeport to its third straight state title in the 11/12 year old division in the 12-2 victory over Morgan County. Riggs allowed two runs on four hits and struck out six. Ben Mossburg gave Bridgeport the lead in the first inning with a two-run blast and Bridgeport never looked back. Nick Stalnaker added a home run in the third inning and Riggs drilled a two-run double. Cody Tomasik added a three-run double.


Sioux City Headid won the state title with a 9-6 victory over Grandview in the title game. Headid finished the Iowa state tournament with a 7-1 record after a perfect record in districts. Watch out for the bats of Peyton Popken, Kobe Clayborne and Justin Kirwan.


Mount Sentinel took Game 1 in the Best-of-3 series against Boulder Arrowhead, 1-0. Game 2 and if necessary, Game 3, will both be on Sunday. Mount Sentinel took the 'W' with great pitching from Jack Leary (4 innings) and Kaden Heidrick (2 innings). Kellan Feeley drove in Preston Jones for the game's only run.

Southern California

Long Beach and Encinitas split a doubleheader in the Best-of-3 Southern California State Championship Series. The third and final game will be played today with the winner advancing to San Bernardino. Long Beach took Game 1, 12-2, behind the pitching of it's dominant ace. Encinitas' bats woke up in Game 2 to pick up a 9-3 victory, forcing Sunday's action.


After losing to Canfield in the winners bracket final, Hamilton West Side, the six-time state champions, expected to make a run at the title. They did just that with a 9-2 victory in the morning to force an "if" game, but the 'Little Engine That Could' from Canfield held onto a 3-2 victory, earning the state championship. Brandon Mikos threw a great game for Canfield in the "if game" victory and escaped a lot of jams.


Florida is a black hole of information. South Brandon will play for the state championship as the winner's of Pool A. It's unclear if they'll be playing Bayshore or North Springs. It's pending results. What's crazy is the fact that South Brandon lost its final pool play game to drop into a 3-way tie for first. They allowed 7 runs. Port St. Lucie beat them 3-1 today. That one run allowed was the difference because Port St. Lucie allowed 8 runs in their three games giving South Brandon the championship berth by a fraction. North Springs was the title favorite coming in but ran into a buzzsaw ace in Game 1 against Bayshore and lost 2-0. North Springs didn't allow another run or hit in the tournament with a 12-0 victory and a 20-0 victory. If Bayshore lost to Baker County and gave up more runs per inning (i.e. 3ish), North Springs could advance.


State powerhouse Fairfield American flexed its muscles in Game 1 of the the state championship Best-of-3 series with a 10-0 victory in five innings. Sam Davenport tossed a two-hit shutout to pickup the victory on the mound. Fairfield's lineup was relentless with hard-hit ball after hard-hit ball. None of them left the yard, which may be even more terrifying for South Windsor in Game 2.

New York

Colonie took a big step towards its first state championship since 2004 with a 15-1 clubbing of previously unbeaten Wappinger. It was Colonie's fourth win in four days and they'll need a fifth in five days to take the title. Wappinger dropped Colonie into the losers bracket with a 10-7 victory on opening day. Both offenses are lethal, so it will come down to who's pitching holds up at the end of the tournament.


Collier Township forced an "if" game against Taney of Philadelphia with a 7-2 victory. Jake Meneskie tossed a great game for Collier after allowed two runs in the first inning including a solo blast off the bat of Mo'Ne Davis. Austin Hendrick ripped a three-run home run and Sam Tortorella added a solo shot in the victory. Tortorella should get the ball for Collier in the championship game. The probable starter for Taney is Davis. She was effective in two innings of work against Collier a couple days ago.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Little League Friday Recap (7/26)


Bend North took home the Oregon state championship with a 14-4 victory over Gresham behind 5 strong innings on the mound by Drew Steelhammer. Bend North had a sixth-inning victory earlier in the tournament and Steelhammer has been responsible for a lot of big hits.


Holden moved to 2-0 in the four-team round robin with a grand slam off the bat of Peter Field in a 4-2 victory over defending state champions, Newton SouthEast. It was his third homer in two games. He also pitched 5 1/3 innings to pick up the win. The 2-0 deficit was the first time Holden has trailed all summer. Newton SouthEast and Barnstable play on Sunday. The winner is in the state championship game with Holden.


Newark National is just one win away from its fourth consecutive state championship and a shot at defending its Mid-Atlantic regional title after a 9-0 victory over Woodbridge in the winners bracket final of the state tournament. A.J. Blanchard tossed five innings of two-hit, scoreless ball and one of the four returning players from last year's LLWS team, Brett Callahan blasted a home run to give Newark National some breathing room and then a big fifth inning turned it into a rout.


Like Delaware, Tennessee is looking for a repeat champion from the region, and they took a step closer. South Nashville will defend its regional crown after knocking off Karns 4-1 in the state title game. Barrett Smith, Garrett Justice, and Robert Hassell (returning player). Blake Money (returning player) was excellent on the bump with 10 strikeouts and just three hits.

New Jersey

Toms River, the favorite coming into the Final Four, toughed out a big 4-2 victory in the winners bracket final against Ocean City/Upper Township. Phil Antoniotti tossed a complete game, giving up a two-run homer in the first, before dominating the OCUT lineup. OCUT had a dominant mound performance of their own though from Gannon Brady who struck out 12 in 5 1/3 innings of shutout baseball. He was perfect through four innings. After Brady reached the pitch count, Toms River went to work. Alex Civitello hit a single and Jon Giordano hit a 300-foot blast to tie the game. Nick DeRose hit a two-run homer two batters later for the winning runs.


Falmouth rallied in the "if" game to knock off the defending 11-year old AND 12-year old state champions, Saco/Maremont. Nate Rogers bashed two home runs, his first two ever, in the victory. Brady Douglas and Alex Smith each had a pair of hits, and Mike Simonds drove in two runs.

There will be another update tonight with more scores and recaps from Friday and Saturday action. So check back later!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Little League Insider Roundup (7/24/14)

Rhode Island

Cumberland American LL went to the Little League World Series back in 2012. They'll be taking another crack at it in 2014 after an 8-7 victory over Cranston Western in the state championship. Cumberland has shown a ton of home run power in their run to the regionals. Sean Meers had a two homer game, Nick Croteau had a two homer game, and Struble has had a two homer game. That's just in states. CJ Davock and Addison Kopack have hammered some big ones too.


The state finals are set. Connecticut's Best-of-3 series will start on Saturday with perennial powerhouse (and recently vandalized) Fairfield American taking on South Windsor National. Both teams needed extra innings and two days to put away their opponents in the single-elimination section championships. Fairfield American Vince Camera hit a two-out single in the bottom of the 8th to give FALL a 2-1 victory. Camera drove in both runs including a solo homer earlier in the game against Farmington's big ace pitcher. Camera has nine home runs in 11 games for Fairfield American. Jamie Flink is another big bat in the FALL lineup. For South Windsor, Caleb Kuhns crushed two home runs including a two-run shot to force extra innings.


The Massachusetts state final four kicked off with powerful Section 1 champion, Holden, continuing to flex its muscles. After averaging 17 runs per game on the way through districts and sections, Holden continued its torrid offensive pace with a 13-3 victory over Barnstable. Peter Field smacked two home runs. Holden burned its ace for the rest of the tournament because of yet another terrible tournament format. Newton SouthEast, the defending state champions with three players back, blanked Hamilton-Wenham, 5-0. They went 20s with their pitching too. Interesting move. They face Holden next.


Last year, Saco won the Maine state title through the losers bracket. Now, they're one game away from doing it again. After losing in the second round, Saco has won four games in four days and is looking for the fifth against Falmouth to take the title. Will Mitchell hit a pair of 3-run homers and Pat Sawyer battled on the mound. Sawyer was on the losing end of the first matchup between these two teams. He struck out 10 in 4.1 innings today.


Ethan Fletcher hit a game-winning single in the sixth to give Canfield a crazy 5-4 victory over regional and state power Hamilton West Side. Dominic Pilolli threw 5 2/3 for Canfield to get the victory. Canfield allowed a 4-2 lead to evaporate into a 5-4 HWS lead before a two-run rally in the bottom of the sixth.


Taney from Philly shocked slight favorite Collier 13-10 (they led 13-1 in the 3rd) behind two home runs from Joe Richardson. MoNe Davis pitched two strong innings and gave up just two hits to the power hitting team from Western PA. Taney has Richardson and Kai Cummings available in the final as well as Davis and Sprague-Lott for the "if" game. Red Land and Collier will so battle for the right to face Taney. Both teams have their pitching lined up as well.


All tournament long, I've struggled to find news on the California squads. In Southern California, the Best-of-3 championship series will feature Encinitas vs. Long Beach after both squads were forced into "if" games by Ocean View and Thousand Oaks, respectively. In Northern California, it was all Pacifica American from the beginning of the district tournament to the NorCal state championship game. Woodcreek gave Pacifica all it could handle in a 17-15 championship. Elijah Ricks could be one of those household names if Pacifica win the West Regional. Watch out for him but the whole team hits.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's Nitty Gritty Time... Regional Fields Getting Full (7/23/14)

Another slew of state championships has been handed out. There are not many spots left in the country. The countdown to the East Regional has begun on my internal clock. Let's get right into it.


Midland Northeast completed the trifecta today. After winning the Michigan state title as 10s and 11s, Northeast battled through the single elimination Elite Eight and beat Byron 6-5 in walk-off fashion. Carter Knochel ripped a two-out bases loaded single to win the championship. Matt Schummer picked up the win on the mound.


Peachtree City National beat the two Georgia powerhouses on consecutive days to win the state championship. First, they came from behind to knock off Warner Robins American in the semifinal, and then crushed Columbus Northern 12-1 today on the back of home runs by Calin Smith, Shep Hancock, and Bo Hogeboom. Beating WRALL and Northern is no joke. Watch out for PTC.


Warren County Southern won its second state title in three years and third since 2007 by beating Paintsville 5-2. Charlie Key struck out 13 batters in the victory. Mac Ausbrooks hit a home run in the victory and Adam Burns had two RBI. Gage Holman added an RBI triple.


Cooper Biven struck out 13 in a two-hit shutout in New Albany's 2-0 victory over Highland to send NA to the Great Lakes regional for the first time since 2007. Biven and his teammates won the state title as 10-year olds too.

New Jersey

Ocean City-Upper Township combined into one league this year and the results have been spectacular. OCUT took down Somerset Hills in the first round of the state final four, 9-4, to reach the winners bracket final. In the other game, Wood-Ridge/Moonachie surprised heavy tournament favorite, Toms River, with a first-inning grand slam but Jon Giordano entered the game and slammed the door as Toms River battled back to win 7-4.


The defending state champions, Saco/Maremont, have battled back through the losers bracket to reach the state title game. They knocked off Bronco LL 11-5 in the losers bracket final with back-to-back-to-back home runs from Kobe Gaudette, Ben Ham, and Grant Dow. Luke Ham launched a home run later in the game as well for Saco. Saco will need to beat Falmouth twice to reclaim the state title.

Southern California

The toughest state in the country is almost coming to a head as the sub-division finals kicked off tonight. Ocean View took down Encinitas 6-4 to force an "if" game in the south sub-division final. In the north, Thousand Oaks did the same by beating Long Beach.


There's just three teams left in Pennsylvania and they're definitely the three best teams in the state. Taney and Collier Township's winners bracket final will be replayed tomorrow after only two batters coming to the plate (back-to-back hits for Collier). The reason for the postponement may have to do with Red Land who ripped eight home run balls into the atmosphere, bringing the rains, in a 15-4 victory over Back Mountain American. Red Land put together its THIRD inning of 10 runs in the state tournament.


Hamilton West Side is looking for its 10th state title since the year 2000. Apparently nobody else plays baseball in Ohio? Anyway, West Side hasn't allowed a hit in three game in the state tournament but takes on Canfield in the winners bracket final this week. Canfield beat HWS for the state title as 10s. HWS returned the favor as 11s.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

DC Little League Rivalry Forged through Competition, Now Has Respect

Photo courtesy of LISPN.com

When it comes to Washington D.C. Little League baseball, only one name came to mind for well over a decade before 2009, and that was Capitol City Little League.

Cap City won the D.C. Tournament every single year from 1988 to 2008, and usually in laughable fashion. If there were any competitive match-ups, they only came from Northwest Washington Little League and very rarely. Finally, something in Northwest Washington clicked. In 2009, NWLL shocked Capitol City and won the city tournament, earning a spot in the Mid-Atlantic Tournament in Bristol, CT.

Since then, the rivalry has flourished. Northwest Washington has now won three of the last five titles and they're slight favorites for a fourth in today's D.C. Tournament championship despite Capitol City returning a handful of contributors to last season's regional semifinal appearance.

"In the heat of it all, the rivalry was not friendly," First-year Capitol City manager Brian Friel said. "It wasn't in the spirit of Little League."

In the arms race to dominate to Washington D.C. youth baseball, the two leagues turned into bitter rivals in the last few years, but with that bitterness, respect has come into play over the last year or two, and it came to a head during pool play this week.

First Wave of State Champions Commences Plus More! (7/21/14)

Well I'm back from my road trip to Pennsylvania's Little League State Tournament and there's a lot to catch up on. Let's take a spin around the country and meet some of the state champions out there.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pennsylvania State Little League Tournament - Day 1 Recap

I got plenty of raised eyebrows on Sunday when local fans and the families of the teams in the Pennsylvania State Little League Tournament asked me where I'm from. Who would be crazy enough to drive three hours just to watch the best eight teams in Pennsylvania Little League? Obviously this guy, and the day did not disappoint.

For starters, all eight teams are really good. Everyone has at least one excellent pitcher, and everyone hits throughout the lineup. It's a very impressive group top to bottom. Here we go with the recaps!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New York State Tournament Preview 2014

The New York State Tournament begins on Monday with a 6-team double elimination bracket. Whitestown opens up with Throgs Neck. The winner takes on Grand Island. Colonie opens up with Wappinger. The winner will face East Meadow.

With the way 6-team tournaments are set up, if you play in the first round, you can't blow any of your pitching. It's not worth it. Winning a first round game, and then losing to the bye team sets you back at the beginning of the losers bracket. You have to win the first TWO games if you don't have the bye. The way to do that? Save your pitching for game two. Obviously, if you have the bye, you play to win every game. That's your Little League Insider strategy of the day.

Around the Horn: Little League Style (7/19/14)

Many state tournaments kicked off today, others kicked into high gear, and one finished up in crazy fashion. We'll get right into it as we go around the horn.


(Written by Damien Hollyday)

Newark National, the defending Mid-Atlantic champions, completed the first step today with its fourth consecutive Delaware District 2 Majors title with an 8-1 victory over Naamans. Newark National outscored its opponents 72-14 through the tournament behind some big performances. They'll be the favorites in the 3-team state tournament. Against Naamans, A.J. Blanchard tossed 4.2 innings with seven strikeouts to pick up the victory. Jason Daughtery hit a monster two-run home run and made two incredible defensive plays during a bases loaded no-out situation in the second inning. Brett Callahan and Blanchard each had two RBI in the victory.


The Iowa State Tournament kicked off with three games in pool play and nobody really separated themselves, which has been typical. Last year featured a four-way tie for the two state championship game slots. We'll keep an eye on it this year. Johnston American, Grandview, Boone National, and Davenport Southeast each picked up a victory. Davenport trailed 8-2 before rallying for a 9-8 victory over Lucas. Eleven home runs were hit in total on the Day 1.

New Jersey

Toms River bashed Nottingham 15-5 to win the Section 3 title. There are two different Toms River leagues. Todd Frazier's version (Toms River East LL) went to Williamsport in 1995, 1998, and 1999. Toms River LL (this version) lost in the regional title game in 2005 and went to Williamsport in 2010. They're big, strong, and hit tons of home runs. Definitely the New Jersey favorite.


Warner Robins American defeated Murphey Chandler 15-7 in the opening game of the Georgia State Tournament. WRALL used seven pitchers in the victory. Dylan Frank, Javy Rodriguez, and Jacob Pierce each had a home run.

North/South Dakota

Canyon Lake LL of Rapid City, SD pounded Brandon Valley 10-0 in four innings to open up the state tournament. Bridger Nesbit and Blake Weaver both homered. Fargo, ND topped Timberline 13-3 in the other matchup. No team from North Dakota has ever advanced to the regionals, and nobody outside of Rapid City has won the state title since 1981.


Karns opened the state tournament in dominant fashion with a 21-0 drubbing of Johnson City. Karns cracked nine home runs in the victory including a pair by Cameron Fisher. He had 7 RBI. Morristown American crushed Clarksville Northwest, 17-0, and Tullahoma pulled away from Smith County 18-8. South Nashville, the defending regional champions, open up on Sunday. In the tournament's Home Run Derby contest, two South Nashville players finished in the top two.


West Salisbury came from the losers bracket to knock off Sharpsburg twice in one day including a mercy rule victory in the "if" game. This is West Salisbury's fourth state championship since 2003. It's also the third straight state title for MD District 8 including Berlin last year and West Salisbury in 2012. WS advanced to Williamsport in 2007. West Salisbury jacked eight home runs in the two games on Saturday by six different players. Ryan Mitchell had three. Dylan Smith was dominant on the mound.


South Fort Myers and Sarasota National won a pair of games over the beginning of the weekend and will play each other for the FL Section 6 title. SFM's Yari Diaz cranked three home runs on the day in the 9-5 victory over Greater Naples and 26-1 victory over LaBelle. Regional favorite, North Springs, trounced Kendall 12-1 in its first sectional game. Timmy Manning launched a pair of two-run home runs and struck out 10 in 4.2 innings pitched. Coby Mayo, Colin Flynn, and Sean Shambo also had home runs.

Northern California

Mill Valley edged Sutter Buttes 4-3 in the opening round of the Northern California state tournament. Mill Valley led 4-0 and used four different pitchers to hold onto the victory.


Bossier escaped with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Eastbank to stay in the winners bracket of the Louisiana State Tournament. Gabriel Larry (Does that name ring a bell from last year?) hit a solo home run and three Bossier pitchers limited Eastbank to just two hits.


Holden played a six-inning game for the first time all summer, but still picked up the victory in a 2-1 Section 1 title victory over Leominster National. Hard-throwing Francis Ferguson welcomed the challenged and passed the test with flying colors. He allowed a sixth-inning solo home run, but picked up the complete game victory with 10 strikeouts and only three hits allowed. In Section 4, Peabody West was in the driver's seat for the Section 4 title game, but let a 4-1 lead evaporate against North Andover American to lose its first game. Hamilton-Wenham took advantage by crushing winless Wilmington, knocking Peabody out of the title picture. Hamilton-Wenham will face North Andover American for the title.

Southern California

Long Beach edged Thousand Oaks 2-1 to win its second game in the SoCal North Sub-Divisional Tournament. Glendora pounded 11-year old state champs, Encino, to set up the winners bracket final. In the SoCal South Sub-Divisional, Ocean View beat up one of the early favorites, Canyon Lake. Sweetwater Valley is also a team to watch in this tournament though.

Rhode Island

The Ocean State's Final Four is always hotly contested. When four of the five top programs in the state are in the tournament, you're going to get great baseball games. Cranston Western beat Portsmouth 3-0 on the back of a one-hit shutout by Anthony Eacuello. Cam Bissett had two RBI including back-to-back home runs with Noah Cook. In the other game, Cumberland American's Addison Kopack tied the game with one swing, and then for the second time in two games, Jayden Strudle came up with the game-winning walkoff hit in extra innings.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Spanning the Little League Globe (7/19/14)

Here's our next look around the country to check in with our teams to watch and others still alive in their respective sections and states. Saturday opens play in many state tournaments around the country. We'll have another look around the horn late night then as well.

New York

Today, I watched Wappinger win the NY Section 4 crown for the first time since 1989. That was the last time anyone from NY D17 has won a section title. The boys from Wappinger have lost tough battles with Sherman Park the last two years in this bracket but finally got over the hump. They did it with their bats. The Top 5 hitters in the lineup are ridiculous threats to hit the ball out of the park, but at least 7 players went deep this week alone. The lineup features Kyle Caccamise at the top, one of my favorite "little guys" to watch ever.

East Meadow won the Long Island (Section 6) title for the first time ever with a 3-1 victory over Port Washington. That victory seals the deal for New York. None of the six teams that have reached the state tournament played in states as 10s or 11s.

Look for a New York State Tournament Preview this weekend!


The Michigan state tournament opened today and it looks like one of the coolest events in the country. Sixteen district champions playing in four pools. Three rounds of single elimination after pool play is kind of rough though. The media coverage is spot on and we love that here at Little League Insider. Midland Northeast has won as 10-year olds and 11-year olds. They opened with a 12-3 victory today, so their title as favorites continues.


What a story Joplin South could be this year. As most people know Joplin, it's the town that was devastated by a tornado back in 2011. Many players on this year's Joplin South team lost their homes. They also happen to be pretty good at baseball. They won district titles as 8-year olds and 9-year olds. They won the state title as 10-year olds. NINE of them played up on the 12-year old team last year and lost in the district title game to Webb City who eventually won the state title. They pushed Webb City to an "if" game. Now, this year, they rolled through their district and opened up the state tournament with a 12-2 victory.

Losers bracket action in the divisional round continued, setting up a rematch in Section 1 between Fairfield American and Norwalk. It's looking like the state champion is going to come from one of these two teams or Farmington who is killing everyone in their division.

New Jersey

Nottingham and Ocean Township played a classic losers bracket final on Friday with OT leading 11-5 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning, but the boys from Hamilton cracked a few home runs, and a two-run single ended it 12-11 in favor of Nottingham. The boys in the ugliest uniforms known to man (trust me on that one) will face off against Toms River Little League in the NJ Section 3 final. TRLL is the heavy favorite. In NJ Section 1, Somerset Hills won a slugfest over Ridgewood to reach the championship game. Ridgewood will face Sparta in the losers bracket. Monroe Township eliminated the 11-year old state champs from Erial. They'll face Haddonfield. Upper Township/Ocean City is in the winners bracket, and Elizabeth Elmora topped Nutley East to reach the Section 2 title game. They'll need to beat Wood-Ridge/Moonachie twice.


Section 4 round-robin continued and Hamilton-Wenham got into the win column by blasting six home runs against North Andover American. Peabody West knocked off Wilmington to move to 2-0 and in the drivers seat for a berth in the section championship.

North Carolina

Southwest Forsyth made a statement in its dominant win over defending state champion, Myers Park Trinity, in the opening round, and continued that dominance in the second round with a 14-2 victory over Rocky Mountain National. They'll meet fellow unbeaten North State LL in the winners bracket final of the state tournament.

Southern California

Long Beach opened the sub-divisional tournament with a 15-1 shellacking of Manhattan Beach. Being stuck in the play-in game could make it a really tough road for the 1992 and 1993 Little League World Series champions.

Tomorrow we'll discuss the opening of the state tournaments from Rhode Island, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, NorCal, Vermont, Kentucky, Ohio, and more. Also continue with coverage from the state tournaments and sections which are already in progress.

If we're not talking about your team it's because we're not hearing about you in the news. Please let us know how things are going for you via Facebook or Twitter.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Road to Williamsport: Early Teams to Watch - 2014

Well it’s mid-July and time to start introducing you to teams you could POTENTIALLY see in your respective Little League regionals or even South Williamsport. Last year, we had a pretty solid track record. Let’s see what happens with this year’s version of Little League Insider’s Early Teams to Watch.

Check it out after the jump:

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Newark National, Del. and Naamans, Del. on Little League Collision Course

Damien Hollyday of Delaware wrote a guest blog for us covering Delaware’s District 2 and the winners bracket semifinals. My blogs will start at the end of the weekend with the “Teams to Watch for Williamsport” article.

Today’s guest post covers Newark National vs Canal and Naamans vs. Midway. Delaware District 2 is the strongest of the three districts in the small state of Delaware. Newark National reached the promised land last year and has won three straight state championships at the 12-year old level. Naamans was the first and only Delaware team to reach Williamsport back in 2003 until Newark National’s run last year.

Without further ado… Here’s Damien’s report.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tokyo Kitasuna is heading back to Williamsport (WITH PHOTOS!)

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from our Japanese correspondent Fumio Ishii who was kind enough to cover the ZAVAS Cup, which is Japan's national championship tournament. 

Written by Fumio Ishii

Tokyo Kitasuna was highly favored to win the Japanese Region after its run through the Tokyo district, but the tournament ended up being one of the most exciting in Japanese National Championships in recent memory until Kitasuna turned it up in the championship game with a 12-0 victory over Toyonaka.

Tokyo Kitasuna went to work early and scored 6-runs in the 1st inning. Taking advantage of Toyonaka’s fatigue, which recently played an 8-inning game against Musashi Fuchu. Takahashi hit 2 HRs, one of them was a monster blast. Tokyo Kitasuna will make their 4th trip to Williamsport and play for their 3rd Little League World Series championship.

Here’s a run down of the entire tournament --

Friday, June 27, 2014

Little League Tournament Season is Underway!

Welcome to the 2014 season of Little League Insider. For anyone just stumbling upon us, we’re an unofficial, unauthorized, and unique blog about the Little League international tournament. We only cover the majors division, which leads to Williamsport. We don’t worry about softball or the 9/10s, 10/11s, juniors, seniors, or big league divisions.

We do our best to cover the entire country and find teams that are worthy of advancing to the regionals and eventually Williamsport, but we’re an East Region based blog. It’s just me, John Malone Jr. Every once in a while we’ll get some guest posts for other parts of the country, but usually I get my information from the Internet and post nationally based roundups like today.

Once we get state championship time, we’ll do profiles and previews of the state champions. We’ve done radio shows on Sundays, which have been successful. The next two months should be a lot of fun. The best place to learn and talk about results and team is on our Facebook Discussion Board. I also post links and thoughts on our Twitter and actual Facebook Page.

If you want to write a guest post, you can always email me. Even if you just want to alert me to a team I’m missing, that’s a good way to get me some info.

Check out today's roundup after the jump....


There are four solid favorites in New York based on prior history. The number one team is Sherman Park Little League of Hawthorne. They won the 10-year old state championship and lost in the 11-year old state championship game with two players up on the 12s last year. They’ve been geared up for this run. They won their first game 14-0, and needed a walkoff home run in the sixth to beat Rye Brook 8-5 in their second game. We’ll see how they fare.

The team that beat them as 11s is Saratoga American. They’ve been to the state tournament as 10s and 11s. In Section 5, South Shore National looms (assuming they get out of the toughest district in New York). SSN is a powerhouse for years and years with an experienced coaching staff. They’ll face a decent Garden City squad in sectionals, but should make noise at the state tournament.


West Salisbury has looked the strongest so far in Maryland District 8, but the team that has made headlines is Elkton. While Elkton’s district is traditionally weaker than most, Elkton has put on quite a display with victories of 50-0, 20-0, and 12-2. Matt Ross hit for the home run cycle in the 50-0 win which included 11 total home runs for Elkton. Read about it here: Cecil Whig Daily
Cecil Whig Photo by Kevin Phillips


The toughest state to get out of it has an odds-on favorite this year and that’s Encino Little League. Encino won the 11-year old title and beat the 10-year old champs, 9-1, in their first district game. It’s a long road though. Ocean View from District 62 and the LLWS champs a couple years ago have looked strong so far as well.


North Springs from District 10 is the heavy favorite. They have won REGIONAL titles as 10-year olds and 11-year olds. Heavy favorite to do damage this year in the state of Florida.

Do you know of any other teams around the country with serious aspirations for state titles? Tell us about them!

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