Gresham watches Regional roommates win their opener over Fairfield, CT

by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Gresham teammates, from left, Ethan Meckel, Ezra Samperi, Ethan Marshall, Brett Falkner and Hunter Hemenway wore their hand-made Petaluma jersey and cheered on their Northern California friends during its first-round game Thursday at the Little League World Series.

WILLIAMSPORT — The Gresham National all-stars wouldn’t be taking the field during Thursday’s 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 didn’t talk about it much at Regionals, because we didn’t 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.

“It’s been great hearing the kids share their stories, hooting and hollering on the bus,” Trickel said. “We’ve 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 Smith’s two-run homer put the team ahead in the third inning, and Austin Peretti’s 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.

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