Lake Oswego Majors stars beat Pennsylvania 8-2 in World Series opener
The Lake Oswego Majors all-stars may not have been one of the favorites coming into the 2021 Little League World Series, but nobody told the Lakers.
Lake Oswego, which lost twice and finished second in the Pacific Northwest Regional, opened the World Series in style, racing away to beat Upper Providence Little League — the Mid-Atlantic Region and Pennsylvania champion — 8-2 on Friday, Aug. 20, in both teams' Series opener at Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
The Lakers rallied from a 1-0 deficit behind Ben Robertson's three-run homer and the solid pitching effort of Robertson, Chase Kelly and Ethan Uecker. In the process, Lake Oswego moved on to the second round of winner's bracket play at the Series, where they'll face South Dakota at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22. South Dakota beat Louisiana 2-0 in its Friday Series opener.
"I think it just goes to show the kids that if you're coming out and you have a lot of energy and you're willing to deal with the adversity that comes your way, if you're willing to compete, you can go out and win a ballgame against anybody," said Lake Oswego manager Chris Kelly.
"Hats off to Oregon. They made some good plays when our guys put the ball in play," said Upper Providence manager Ben Ludwig. "Again, credit to Oregon pitchers because they had good off-speed, they had good location (and) they kept our guys off-balance."
Other Laker stories
Upper Providence took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning and held it until the bottom of the third. Jared Bowman, who also pitched his team into the fourth inning, led off with a double to center field. Then, after a great stop by Lake Oswego third baseman Beckett Heher and a Robertson strikeout (he pitched 3 1/3 innings to get the win), Bowman scored on a Laker error.
After a 1-2-3 Laker first inning and a scoreless Upper Providence second — fueled by a great defensive play at first base by Chase Kelly — Lake Oswego stranded two runners in the bottom of the second.
But after Robertson — using his breaking ball and location to great effect — set Upper Providence down in order in the third, the Lakers took over. In the bottom of the frame, Ellis Bayne and Kelly reached base on back-to-back errors with one out to bring Robertson to the plate. There, facing Bowman with a 1-0 count, Robertson hammered a fastball over the left field fence to give his team the lead for good.
"It felt great because not a lot of kids get to (have) this experience, and to hit a home run, it's just — what a great experience," Robertson said. "I thought 'Is it gone? Is it gone? Yes.' Then when I was rounding the bases, really nothing went through my mind but just touch all the bases."
Upper Providence edged within 3-2 in the top of the fourth when Tommy Sergio reached base on an error, pinch runner Jack Strzeminski took second on a wild pitch and scored on Aidan Ludwig's single to center field.
But Kelly came on in relief of Robertson for the final two outs of the frame and kept Upper Providence off the scoreboard the rest of the way, allowing no runs on no hits and two walks while striking out two.
"I was pretty confident because we're already here. I wasn't nervous at all," Chase Kelly said. "I was just trying to have fun up there, just trying to throw strikes because I know I had a good defense behind me to make plays."
Lake Oswego then put the game on ice with five runs in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Kell VanDehey reached base when he was hit by a pitch with one out to end Bowman's day, Nate Cook singled past third off Sergio, Ryan Warhank reached base on a tapper to second and Bayne walked to force home a run. LO's last three runs scored on Upper Providence errors, with Chase Kelly's shot to second bringing home two, and after a Robertson walk, Ethan Uecker's grounder to first forcing another error and another run.
"We've been telling these guys … (that) if they're able to … handle that adversity and bring a lot of energy, then they can win ball games against anyone and that's what we did today," Chris Kelly said.
For the game, Robertson, Cook and Ezra Carlston had LO's three hits, with Robertson driving in three runs and scoring twice, Chase Kelly driving in two and scoring twice, and Bayne driving in one and scoring twice. Robertson threw 3 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and no walks while striking out four.
Upper Providence also had just three hits in the game. Bowman took the loss after throwing 3 1/3 innings and allowing four runs (one earned) on two hits and no walks while striking out three, his efforts undone by six Upper Providence errors.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.