Gresham watches Regional roommates win their opener over Fairfield, CT
WILLIAMSPORT The Gresham National all-stars wouldnt be taking the field during Thursdays opening session at the Little League World Series, but the players had their game faces on as they climbed to the top of the bleachers to cheer on their newfound friends from Petaluma, Calif.
The teams shared a dorm during Regionals last week and after winning their brackets, Gresham the Northwest and Petaluma the West, the teams shared a flight across the country. The trip ended with a middle-of-the-night bus ride into Williamsport that included a 3 a.m. stop at the White Castle fast-food chain and more than one reminder that the players really should be trying to sleep.
We didnt talk about it much at Regionals, because we didnt want to jinx anything, but I was thinking how special it would be to share a plane together, Gresham manager Jason Trickel said.
At the World Series, US teams are paired with International squads, Gresham rooms with Chinese Taipei, but the connection with their California buddies remains strong. The teams meet for breakfast each morning and often find each other in the swim pool or video game rooms.
Its been great hearing the kids share their stories, hooting and hollering on the bus, Trickel said. Weve traded T-shirts with them. They know all of our nicknames, and we know theirs.
The Nationals had plenty to cheer about Thursday, watching Petaluma never trail during a 6-4 win over Fairfield, CT, in its opening game.
Bradley Smiths two-run homer put the team ahead in the third inning, and Austin Perettis two-run single to right field stretched the lead to 5-2 in the fifth.
Smith picked up the win on the mound, striking out seven batters over four innings.
For recaps from Thursday's other first-round games see our Friday, Aug. 17, edition.