The 12-year-old Pacific Little League All-Stars overcame a heartbreaking 10-inning loss in their first game Saturday to beat Redmond North 4-3 in extra innings and earn a trip to San Bernadino, with a chance to win the Northwest championship and a trip to the Little World Series. Dillon Rundorff’s RBI single scored Carter Shoemake in the bottom of the seventh inning for the game-winning RBI in the comeback win.
Rundorff, the number-two hitter in the order, had limited success up to that point, but with the game on the line, wanted the chance to be the hero. “He looked right in my eyes and said, ‘I’m gonna get this done,'” said PLL Coach Robley Corsi. “And he hit a line drive into right field and got it done.”
The extra-inning win was a reversal of sorts from the first game of the day. Pacific came into Saturday undefeated in the double-elimination state tournament format, needing to win one of the two match-ups with Redmond to win the state championship. In the morning game, PLL led 3-1 going into the sixth and final regulation inning. Redmond, down to their last out, had three consecutive hits to tie the game before starting pitcher Jacob Gabler got the last batter to strike out on his last pitch of the game.
In the bottom of the sixth, Pacific had a runner on third with one out, but a groundout to second failed to get the runner off third. Following intentional walks to the next two batters, which loaded the bases, the inning ended on a called third strike and the game went to extras. Neither team was able to muster much offense until the Redmond 10th, when the Redmond North lead-off hitter singled, advanced on a passed ball, was bunted to third and — following a ground-out — scored on a double by Dave Schmitt for the go-ahead run. Lane Corsi started the bottom of the 10th with a single for Pacific, but was unable to score, giving Redmond the win and setting up the winner-take-all game.
In the nightcap, Redmond took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth when Pacific was able to turn the tables and tie the game. Tyreek Curley led off the inning, reaching second on a ball hit to left. Jacob Prinz grounded to second, advancing Curley to third. Gabler, in a twist of fate, grounded to first to plate Curley and tie the game, sending the game to extras, where the PLL gang prevailed.
The two teams played 17 innings on Saturday, five more than were originally scheduled. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it, and I doubt I ever will again,” Corsi said.
Pacific had previously beat Redmond North on Thursday night and, as such, had to wait and watch Redmond win their way into today’s games. With the restrictive pitching rules, PLL had an advantage by having more pitchers available, but Corsi didn’t look at it that way. “I have four number-one starters. I just play on the fact that I can pitch who will do the best in each situation. That’s my advantage.”
Pacific was one out away from winning in the first game and one away from losing in the second. Corsi talked about the ebbs and flows of emotions. “With this team, the highs and lows aren’t spikes. They just know they are going to win at some point. It’s just a matter of when.”
This is the second time that Corsi had been a part of a PLL team that won the state championship, having taken the 12-year-olds all the way to the World Series two years ago. The difference in the two teams, according to Corsi? “That team was so solidified and this team is still solidifying, but I have more options with this team.”
The Pacific All-Stars leave Friday morning on a flight to San Bernadino and face Wyoming Sunday afternoon in their first round match-up at the Northwest Championship.
— By Jeff Smarr