Monday, August 29, 2005

A Great Game


Imagine this situation: You’re Naeem Lourens, brought in to pitch in a bases-loaded, no-out jam. You’ve never pitched at this level before, and your first game at this championship is with television cameras and reporters from all over the world watching you. You don’t sweat the pressure, but strike out the first batter, get the second to pop up, then strike out the third batter swinging to end the threat.

How about this one? You’re Jurickson Profar, and as you return to third on a throw coming to home, you see your teammate is running there from second. One of you is likely to get tagged, so you both back off from 3rd, forcing the fielder to decide whom to go after, so at least it’s harder for them. When they try to tag you coming home, you slide under the tag and give your team the lead.

Or, how about this? You’re Ty Turpak, and your team is down by three runs in the last regulation inning. With men on second and third, you drop a perfect bunt and the runner beats the tag at home to score the first run in what becomes a game-tying rally.

Or how about this? You’re Michael Memea, coming up in the extra inning after your team came back from 3-1 and 6-3 deficits to tie the game. You figure on a fastball, you’re right, and you drive the ball into the stands for a game-winning walkoff Home Run to win the game.

That’s pretty good baseball, right? Now add this factor: None of the players I mentioned has finished Middle School yet. Yes, I’m talking about the Little League World Series Championship Game, which the U.S. Northwest Team, from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, won 7-6 over the Caribbean Team, from Willemstad, Curagao (Netherlands Antilles).

None of the players, coaches, or officials in the Little League World Series receives a salary or prize money for the Championship (although sponsors do give the players prizes like games, school tools, and scholarships), so we’re talking an especially pure version of Baseball, the kind all too many of us forget about. Also, this is only the second LLWS Championship game to go extra innings, and the first to be won with a walk-off Home Run.

Way to go, both teams. Great game.

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