Thursday opened the Little League World Series with three straight elimination games.
Canada (Lethbridge, ALB.) was the first to leave the Little League World Series tournament despite a gritty 5-4 loss to Latin America (Guayaquil, Ecuador). The Ecuadorians survive for at least one more a day, drawing a rematch with first-round opponent Puerto Rico in another elimination game on Friday morning. Puerto Rico won the first game between the two teams 7-3.
The noon game featured the first U.S. elimination contest between the East Region All-Stars of Collier Township, PA., and the West Region squad of Nogales, Ariz.
The East struck first as leadoff hitter Nick Serafino drew a walk to open the game and eventually worked his way around to score the first of his three runs in the game.
The West tied the game 1-1 in the third, but the East regained the lead in the fourth and never trailed again.
Collier Township’s big inning came top of the fifth when it pushed across four runs on four hits to take a 6-1 lead.
Dom Cepullio had an RBI triple that opened the scoring in the big inning. Danny Moreno worked 4-plus innings and allowed just two hits to earn the victory for the East.
Serafino notched the save in the 7-3 win, coming in with 1-out and 2-on in the bottom of the 7th and needing to face just one batter to end the game. A caught-stealing and a fly ball to right field closed it out.
SportStar PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Serafino: He set the tone by manufacturing the first inning run. He also started the big fifth-inning rally by drawing a walk. And then he finished 1-for-2, with 3 runs and 3 SBs. Oh, and he also earned the two-out save.
Steve Alauzen’s sixth-inning RBI single that put Collier Township ahead 7-3. Alauzen finished 2-for-3 with 2 RBI.
In the second U.S. elimination game, the Southeast Region All-Stars (Rutherfordton, N.C.) looked very much in control from the outset against Central (Jenison, MI.).
Rutherfordton staring pitcher Joey Daigle retired the first 10 batters he faced and Southeast held a 2-0 lead through three innings.
Central got on the board when Ian Ross and Benji Kuiper raked back-to-back RBI doubles to tie the game after four complete.
Southeast didn’t blink.
The Sneathen Brothers (Keaton and Cameron) each drove in runs that put the Rutherfordton team back ahead 4-2.
Michigan’s finest came right back with a rally of their own in the bottom of the fifth, striking for three runs and taking the lead on Michael Alkema’s 2-run double down the left field line.
Central would use five pitchers total, but it was Trenton Koole who would get the win.
He came in to get the last out of the fifth inning and would finish out the game without allowing a hit.
SportStar PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Keaton Sneathen: It was in a losing effort, but Sneathen had a heckuva performance. He went 2-for-4 with 2 doubles, 2 runs and 2 RBI from the leadoff spot. He also flashed some serious leather at shortstop.