Rain the winner Monday

Ongoing rain forces the cancellation of the third-place game at the Series
by: JAIME VALDEZ, WET AND WILD — The grounds crew from the Little League International Complex sweeps rainwater from the infield into the first base dugout in Lamade Stadium during Sunday's rain delay.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - In the 12 days since the Murrayhill Little League Majors all-stars first arrived in Williamsport for the World Series, they've taken away a lot from their experience.

There were the highlights from five games played in front of increasingly large crowds on the immaculately groomed and sculpted fields at Lamade and Volunteer stadiums.

There were chances to meet players from around the world. There were congratulatory emails from friends and family and fans worldwide. There were suitcases filled with Series shirts, Series pins, Series hats and every other kind of gear.

On Sunday, though, the final scheduled day of competition at the Series, Murrayhill brought a bit of Oregon to Williamsport - in other words it rained like heck.

While almost no team figured out how to stop Murrayhill on the field during the 2006 summer all-star season, nature finally found a way to end Murrayhill's dream summer. The heavy rain that inundated Williamsport early Sunday forced cancellation of Murrayhill's scheduled third-place game against Mexico, and later led to postponement of the Series championship between Japan and Georgia (Georgia came through Monday to beat Japan 2-1 and win the overall World Series championship).

Murrayhill's players and coaches were notified of the cancellation at around 9 a.m. Sunday morning. The decision wiped out not only Murrayhill's chance to face Mexico in the third-place game, but their lone shot at an international team and an opportunity to finish the Series the way it had finished all its other tournaments - with a win.

For Murrayhill's players and coaches, a group that battled successfully through District 4, Oregon and Northwest regional tournament victories on their way to the Series, this was not how they'd hoped to see their all-star adventure end.

'We were (mad) because we want to be third place, not tied for third place,' said center fielder Corey Pool. 'We'd rather play the game and have a chance to actually be third place.'

'And we didn't get to play an international team and we really wanted to,' said catcher Trevor Nix, one of Murrayhill's Saturday night heroes - he hit a two-run homer against Georgia.

But despite their best efforts and most fervent wishes, the signs that pointed to cancellation of their Sunday third-place game were everywhere. Streams of water coursed down the hill below Volunteer Stadium like small rivers. Players, fans and parents donned official Little League ponchos and some trash bags with their arms poked through self-made holes to keep the rain at bay. Umbrellas made appearances for the first time during the Series' run. And Volunteer Stadium itself, the site for Sunday's third-place game, was covered in standing water and obviously in no shape for competition.

Murrayhill's players also missed having the chance to end their season the way so many of their other days had ended - with a win.

'We thought we were going to win because (Mexico) threw their ace yesterday,' said right fielder Bryan Domogalla. 'And like Trevor said, I wanted to play an international team.'

Murrayhill finishes its World Series competition at 3-2 and its all-star summer at 18-3. The team also surpassed all previous Oregon teams' efforts at the Series - there was only one before Murrayhill and that 1948 Rose City Little League played and lost its only contest at the Series.

'Top two in the country and third in the world isn't too bad,' Nix added.