Once again Jackie Robinson West had a solid victory, today it was a 6-1 victory over the Pearland, Texas team which previously made to the Little League World Series in 2010. But they were short handed in pitching with five pitchers not available due to high pitch counts over their last three games.
That's something that is so well managed by Jackie Robinson West is that players aren't worked to death and don't seem tired. Other teams seem at points to be near exhaustion or making mental errors and this team doesn't, they are sharp and baseball ready. And I know managing to the Little League rules (pitch counts and making sure every kid gets to play), but wanting to have your best players out there requires team depth, excellent balance and managing.
And I love how the Jackie Robinson West manager wears low cut work boots and not cleats or gym shoes. His message to the team "We are going to work". South side mantra if I ever heard it. Reminds me of my late grandfather and father and that's how good southside black men are made.
This game was all about solid pitching from the starters (from Texas too), and then the crowning touch was impressive defense. The game started with a tough infield high bouncing ball (called a "Baltimore chop"), but was cleanly played by Jackie Robinson West to get the out at first. That set the table for a great defensive outing.
There were not one but two major league level double plays by Jackie Robinson West, first in the second inning, a classic 6-4-3 (shortstop to second base to first base), double play and then an equally tight 5-4-3 (third base to second and to first), double play in the fourth. What is more impressive is these kids have less time to turn the double play because the each base is 20 feet shorter than the pros and these kids run fast. Yet the defensive was efficient and clean.
The offensive was good but not gaudy, key hit and runs, strong base running but not over aggressive and playing just smart baseball. What we call "small ball" and definitely Jackie Robinson West has hit their groove and are playing in a great rhythm.
This team doesn't come up to the plate "hacking and whacking" but being patience, waiting for the right pitch and if they don't see then taking walks and getting on base.
Speaking of getting on base at one point the Texas pitcher hit a Jackie Robinson West player (not intentional), and he later walked to first place to console him as he was hit in the arm near the funny bone and trust me those hurt. But so much class in this tournament from all teams. Sportsmanship is definitely first on the field.
So now Jackie Robinson West gets a much earned and deserved day off before facing the loser of tomorrow's marquee game between the vaulted Las Vegas team that ran through Jackie Robinson West on Sunday and the equally hyped Philly team with the great female pitcher Mo'ne Davis (who made the cover of this weeks Sports Illustrated), so the next game will be a good one.
By the way Dicks Sporting Goods on Canal has more shirts, another 100 are in with more sizes now. But I hear its crowded and the shirts are selling like the proverbial hotcakes. And today's viewing party was indoors at Mount Vernon School on 105th & Morgan due to inclement weather that was predicted.
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