LO Little Leaguers start slowly at World Series
Lake Oswego's all-star team spots Georgia an early lead and winds up losing 9-4
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- It's not like this situation is new for Lake Oswego's Little League team. The squad has played with its back against the wall for more than a month. And, in those situations, it has played its best baseball.
But the team's best baseball was not on display on Friday night at the Little League World Series. Under the lights and in front of 13,000 people, not to mention everyone watching on ESPN, Lake Oswego was touched up early and, despite mounting an impressive sixth inning rally, the team fell 9-4 to the Southeastern champion from Georgia.
'I wish I could correct it but we've had a way of getting ourselves in a hole a little bit. But the kids know not to panic or get down on themselves. In this situation before we've come out and played great the next game,' Lake Oswego manager Craig Ramey said.
Lake Oswego may have been the beneficiaries of some bad luck early in the game, which knocked the first-time Series competitors back on their heels.
'They played well in all aspects of the game. Their pitcher threw strikes and our guys hit the ball hard a couple of times, where we thought we might get something going but every time (Georgia) made a great play,' Ramey said.
Lake Oswego was thwarted by some solid defensive play by the Southeastern champions all evening. Austin Andrews, the first batter of the game, hit a sharp groundball up the middle but it was speared neatly by second baseman Zane Conlon and the next batter, Duncan Campbell, hit a deep fly ball to centerfield that was caught. Mitch Lomax followed by reaching on an error but Brennan Malagamba flied out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the frame, pitcher Levi Rudolph had two outs and a runner on second base when Georgia's Keaton Allen hit a slow dribbler in front of home plate. Malagamba fielded the ball but had an awkward angle on his throw to first base. The throw went wide, allowing the first run to score.
Clint Wynn followed with an RBI single and, suddenly, Lake Oswego was in a 2-0 hole after yielding two unearned runs.
Lake Oswego went down in order in the second. Then, with one out in the bottom of the inning, Micah Wells lined a single that caromed hard off of Rudolph. Rudolph stayed in the game but gave up two more runs before getting out of the inning.
'We could never really get into a rhythm. Every time it seemed like we might swing the momentum back in our favor a little bit they would make a great play,' Ramey said.
From then on, the game became an exercise in frustration. Lake Oswego continued to put the ball in play, only tallying three strikeouts for the contest, but the team was routinely thwarted by stellar defense. Mitch Lomax alone hit three sharp ground balls that were all gobbled up by the Georgia infield.
'It was just great baseball. That's happened to us before. We were hitting the ball hard and that's all you can do,' Campbell said.
Georgia knocked Rudolph out of the game during a four-run third inning that saw Lake Oswego go through two additional pitchers. After the four runs came across, Lomax came out of the bullpen to strike out
three batters in a row, stopping the bleeding in the process.
Lake Oswego gave up one more run, in the bottom of the fourth after yielding consecutive two-out hits.
The Oregon team scored its first run of the game in the top of the fifth. Mitchell McLaughlin reached on an error and Michael Weiss was hit by a
pitch with one out. Andrews followed with a single to load the bases and Campbell plated a run with an RBI fielder's choice.
Then Lomax hit a hard hit ball directly to Georgia shortstop Dalton Carriker, who fielded it cleanly and recorded the third out.
After holding Georgia scoreless in the fifth inning, the first time the Southeast champs failed to put up a run in a frame, Lake Oswego mounted a bit of a comeback.
Malagamba led off with a single and Reid Penney followed with a slicing double down the right field line. Harrison Ramey then reached on an error, plating a run. Calvin Hermanson followed with an RBI single that knocked Wynn out of the game.
Carriker came on in relief and recorded a quick strikeout before Weiss hit a hard ground ball past the shortstop for what was ruled an error. Suddenly the score was 9-4 and Lake Oswego still only had one out.
'We started to really see the ball. It was most people's second and third at-bat. We just knew we needed to get base-runners,' Campbell said.
Andrews came up again and hit the ball hard back to the pitcher. Carriker fielded it and threw to first base. The throw then went to second and the
tag was placed on Weiss to end the game on a well-executed double play that typified Lake Oswego's night.
'We battled and I was proud of our kids for that. They never gave up,' Ramey said.
Next up for Lake Oswego will be Massachusetts, a team that won its first game over Ohio in dramatic fashion with a leaping catch to bring back a potential game-winning home run. That game will be at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.