The Pacific Little League All-Stars didn’t have the start they hoped for at the Little League World Series.
Pierce Jones hit three home runs and a triple to lead Jackie Robinson West from Chicago to a 12-2 victory over Pacific in an opening round game Thursday at Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Penn.
Pacific plays the Midwest Regional champion from Rapid City, S.D. at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 16. The game will be broadcast on KOMO TV/ABC. Rapid City lost 12-2 to West Regional champion Las Vegas. Each team in guaranteed three games at the tournament.
Pacific’s players aren’t dwelling on the game that was called after five innings due to the 10-run rule.
“We didn’t have a kid who was hanging their heads,” Pacific manager Robley Corsi Jr. said.
Corsi Jr. told his players that “we ran into a team that was fantastic. This happens in baseball. We’ll go at it again on Saturday. … It’s baseball. They are a great club. They stuck it to us.”
This won’t be the first time that Pacific has had to battle through the losers bracket of a tournament. At state, Pacific lost to Federal Way in the second round and then won five straight loser-out games, including two on the final day of the tournament.
Corsi Jr. predicts that his team is going to respond well on Saturday.
“They’re going to be ready,” he said. “We’re not down. We’re not out. We’re ready to go.”
The Great Lakes region champion was ready to go in the first inning, scoring two runs off Pacific starter Ian Michael. Jones led off the inning with a home run to center field and Darian Radcliff doubled to drive in another run. The inning ended when with a runner on second, left fielder Tyler Durbin fielded a hit and threw home to catcher Robley Corsi III, who tagged the runner out.
Pacific responded with two runs to tie the score. Mason Vaughn reached second base on a throwing error and Tyler Durbin doubled to score Vaughn. Tygan Duncan later singled to drive in Durbin but those would be the last runs Pacific scored in the game. Pacific did not produce a hit after the first inning. Pitcher Joshua Houston struck out seven.
“They kept us off balance,” Corsi Jr. said. “We fought and we battled. … (Houston) made us uncomfortable. That was a great squad.”
Great Lakes retook the lead for good with three runs in the second, five in the third and a run in both the fourth and fifth innings. Ed Howard got the scoring started with a 2-run shot in the second inning.
Great Lakes finished with 13 hits. Michael was lifted for Logan Kruse after the second inning. Tai Starchman and Karsen Tjarneberg also pitched. Corsi Jr. will have all his pitchers available for Saturday’s game.
Regardless of who was on the mound, Jones was unstoppable on Thursday. He tripled in the second and hit home runs in the first, third and fifth innings.
Corsi Jr. noted that his players made quality pitches to Jones. He just hit them out of the park.
“He was coming in hitting something like .800,” Corsi Jr. said of Jones. “The balls that he hit were pitcher’s pitches. That kid can flat out hit.”
Despite the loss, Pacific will have plenty to remember about its first game at the Little League World Series.
“It was surreal,” Corsi Jr. said about playing in Lamade Stadium. “There were people everywhere in the stands. It was unbelievable.”
– By David Pan