Lake Oswego Majors stars fall 3-0 to South Dakota on Monday
The Lake Oswego Majors all-stars were right there.
The Lakers, facing South Dakota in the second round of the Tom Seaver bracket at the Little League World Series on Monday, Aug. 20, were dead-even with their opponents through 4 Â½ innings at Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
But there, in the bottom of the fifth, one big swing made all the difference. In this case, it was South Dakota center fielder Gavin Weir who came through with that swing, breaking open a scoreless tie when he smashed a three-run homer to right field that essentially won the contest.
"I feel we played great on defense and (our) pitching just had one mistake," said Lake Oswego second baseman Cole Sturgeon, who went hitless at bat but handled three defensive chances without an error. "We didn't really hit well. (We) got on top of the ball a lot (and) just didn't find gaps. (It was) unlucky."
"I think that we played really awesome, especially on defense — we had little to no mistakes and our pitching was great," said LO catcher Ethan Uecker, who had his team's lone hit, a leadoff single in the top of the second. "(Pitcher Chase Kelly) threw lots of strikes and we helped him out and got outs, but our hitting was not there today."
Next up, Lake Oswego (1-1) will face North Manchester-Hookset Little League (the New Hampshire and New England champion) in an elimination game at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24. The Lakers, who previously won three straight elimination games in the Pacific Northwest Regional tournament, said they'll be ready for New Hampshire (1-1), which lost its opener to California and then beat Tennessee on Saturday, Aug. 21.
"We've been there before and played several consecutive elimination games and won them so I feel confident that these guys can bounce back and bring their energy and positive attitude to come out and get more runs tomorrow," said Lake Oswego manager Chris Kelly.
"It will take more focus, energy and more hitting from all of us to come back and go far in this tournament," Uecker said.
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In Monday's game, both teams got great efforts from their starting pitchers (Chase Kelly for Lake Oswego and Maddux Munson for South Dakota), great defense (neither team committed an error) and not much in the way of offense (LO had just one hit, while South Dakota had just two hits prior to its watershed fifth).
Maddux threw five innings, allowing no runs on just one hit and three walks while striking out three.
"I thought (Munson) did a really good job of moving the ball around," Chris Kelly said. "We thought that if we were patient, we would have some opportunities to get some baserunners, but for the most part, he was in the zone, he was mixing up location (and) he got his offspeed over a few times. … That was really the key to his success today — his command and ability to get the offspeed over. That's generally a recipe for success at this level."
Chase Kelly, meanwhile, pitched his team into the fifth inning, allowing one run on three hits and two walks while striking out three.
"That little lefty, Kelly, he was really good tonight," said South Dakota manager Mike Gorsett. "He kept us off balance. He's a really good pitcher. He showed that in the opening game, too."
Offensively, the Lakers went down in order three times in the game's first five innings, squandering Uecker's single to center in the second and Chase Kelly's leadoff walk in the fourth.
South Dakota wasn't much better against Chase Kelly, stranding two baserunners in the first, wasting a leadoff single in the second (thanks to a double play from first baseman Ben Robertson to shortstop Crew Corry to Sturgeon), coming up empty after a double in the third and stranding two more baserunners in the fourth.
But the fifth inning was a different story. Kye Carlson led off with a walk to end Chase Kelly's day, then Brekken Biteler walked off Robertson, and after one out, Weir stepped up for the game-winning homer to right field.
"He was going up looking for something offspeed and they were throwing the fastball right by him, so right before that last pitch, I told him 'We're up there to swing at fastballs,'" Gorsett said. "He finally got the foot down and he obviously exploded on that fastball. He did what we all know he can do."
In LO's at-bat in the sixth, Munson issued a leadoff walk to Nate Cook, got Ryan Warhank and Ellis Bayne on groundouts, then walked Chase Kelly before striking out Robertson to end the game.
"I feel like we should have gotten more hits to add on to our great pitching," Sturgeon said.
"I wish we could have gotten the ball out of the infield so we could have opened up our offense and maybe win that game," Uecker said.
Despite the loss, Chris Kelly said his team would be ready to go on Tuesday.
"Hopefully, we can put some hits together and score some runs and give (Robertson, who will start at pitcher) support and we'll be competitive," he said.
For the game, Weir was one of six different South Dakota players who had hits, finishing with three RBIs and one run scored.
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