Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Eliminated teams aren't rushing to get back home
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- By most measures, an early exit from an international tournament is a disappointing performance. At the Little League World Series, there is more baseball to watch or play for the eliminated teams.
Just because a team has been eliminated doesn't mean it has to go home. It can take in the rest of the tournament from the stands or even take the field against a squad from another part of the world in a friendly matchup.
Staten Island, N.Y., eliminated with a 4-1 loss to Phoenix, might stick around to take a shot at the club from Moscow.
"I'd like to play [an international team]," Staten Island manager Nick Doscher said following Tuesday's loss to Phoenix, which must wait until the night's final game between Columbus, Ga., vs. Lemont, Ill., to see if it will advance.
Phoenix got a strong effort from pitcher Shaun Chase, who struck out 10, hit a solo home run and drove in a run with a single in the win.
Moscow, the Europe, Middle East and African champ, is a hot target for exhibition games.
"We've been hanging out with the Russian coach, he seems like a lot of fun," Doscher said.
Doscher said his kids expressed interest in an exhibition game, but he would have to make sure.
"It's tough for them to realize it's really over and they have to go back to their lives. It's something they'll remember for the rest of their lives," Doscher said.
The Midwest regional champions from Columbia, Mo., are slated to play the Russians on Wednesday morning.
"The kids just don't want to come home," parent Jeff Ausmus said.
By sticking around for as long as they can, the Columbia players will enjoy an added perk -- missing the first three days of school, which starts Wednesday.
"The kids especially will bounce back real quick," said Ausmus, whose son Jeffrey's home run in the regional final helped the team advance to the tournament. "It will take the parents a while longer."
Moscow coach Andrey Tselykovski said his team -- which faces a long trip home just to return to school on Sept. 1 -- looks forward to taking on all comers.
"We'll play every day," he said. "We want to play as much as we can."
The Canadian champs, from Surrey, British Columbia, got a lift with a 2-1 win over Saipan, the Pacific champions, on Tuesday. Surrey finished 1-2 in pool play and the win will make the rest of the stay at the tournament a little brighter.
Braeden Smith started the winning rally in the bottom of the sixth with a single with two strikes.
"When I got up, every part of my body was shaking," Smith said. "This was my first and last World Series, so I didn't want us to go out 0-3."
"We're just looking to have fun [the rest of the week]," Canadian manager Joe Burns said.
The Canadian team will face the Southwest team from Lake Charles, La., on Wednesday morning at Lamade Stadium, the site of the finale, for an exhibition game.
"It should be fun," Burns said. "We haven't played on Lamade yet this World Series."
Tuesday marked the end of pool play. The elimination round begins Wednesday with Venezuela facing Matamoros, Mexico, in one international semifinal. Saudi Arabia faces Kawaguchi City, Japan, on Thursday.