Very well done to GA and Japan for making it that far and a tough game.
I found the whole LL WS and State/Regional lead up games very interesting to follow.
As an Aussie, I had no particular team I was cheering for but it was an enthralling tournament to follow over the last month or so. Although Australia has played International Junior Baseball for many decades, 2008 will be the first time that our country will have Little League teams and a qualifier for the LL ASIA-PACIFIC Region.
(Another great sports tip from guest blogger Jon Doyle of www.baseballtrainingsecrets.com)
If youve watched any of the Little League World Series youve certainly noticed how hard the pitchers throw: 65, 70 even 73 miles per hour shows up on the gun. One of the big issues a hitter faces as he starts playing on regional and national levels is the ability to hit the high-speed fastball.
Typically you will see players swing a weighted bat on deck in order to gear up for the cheese. If this is part of your routine I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this will not increase your bat speed and, in most cases, will actually decrease itobviously not what you want.
This is because when you swing a heavy bat 15 percent or greater than your game bat you not only change your mechanics (which leads to inconsistent batting mechanics) you also teach your body to swing slow. Sure the bat will feel lighter in your hands, but you will swing slower. Now it is OK to loosen up the shoulders and wrist by moving a heavy bat around your body, just dont replicate your swing.
I know by now youre saying, Jon, if a heavy bat will hinder me, what should I do?
Its quite simple really, swing a lighter bat! Swing a bat 10-15 percent lighter than your normal game bat on deck 5 to 8 times. Try to be as quick as possible when you do it. This will increase your game bat speed because now your body will know what it feels like to swing faster.
This is a very simple tip, yet extremely powerful and effective.
(Jon Doyle is a former NCAA All-American baseball player who now works as a strength and conditioning specialist. For more tips check out www.baseballtrainingsecrets.com)
I turned this international semi-final game during a pivotal moment: top of the fifth, bases loaded and the game all tied up at one a piece. Vincent Anthonia, Curacao's starting pitcher who homered earlier in the game to give his team their only run, struck out the last batter he would face to get the second out as he exhausted his allowable pitch count. Curacao's relief pitcher struck out the third out and sent the tied game into the bottom of the fifth.
The pitching duel continued as Venezuela struck out the side. I could not believe the speeds those 11-13 year-olds were hitting--consistently throwing the Major League equivalent of a 95 to 96 miles per hour.
The bottom of the sixth is when the game got really interesting. Curacao started to put on the offensive pressure. With runners on first and second, Curacao put a sharply hit grounder in play towards first base. It appeared to bounce off the first basemen into no-man's land in the outfield that would prove to plate the winning run... until the umpire called a dead ball because it actually hit the runner. Instead of celebrating a victory the inning was over and the game was headed to extra innings.
Venezuela quickly gained a lead by way of a solo home run. As Curacao came up to bat in the bottom of the seventhI'll be honestit didn't look good. They quickly found themselves to be one out away from defeat. And then the rally began. With a full count and never giving up, Curacao's batter roped a single into center field to keep their hopes alive.
That kid was so fired up when he got to first base; the rest of him team followed suit and I cheered from my couch. The next batter, with an impressive display of discipline, walked. Down by one and playing for a run, the scene was now set for the dramatic, game-winning, walk-off home run that took place. Deion Rosalia rocked an outside pitch beautifully to the opposite field. And just like that, David defeated Goliath.
Venezuela's offense was highly touted the entire tournament and during the game the commentators kept mentioning that Curacao would have to string a couple hits together because they didn't have much pop in their bat. But what I found the most interesting was the disparity in population the two teams had to comprise a team with. The Venezuelan city where the entire team hails from enjoys a population of 2.5 million. The island of Curacao, a mere 200,000.
Congratulations to Curacao on an impressive come-from-behind upset and good luck to them on their way to the international final!
What a great opening game for the Little League World Series in 2007. I saw Massachusetts play all week long in Bristol during the regionals and they simply win ball games. They're one of the smallest teams I've seen at this level. They don't have a dominant pitcher or a dominant bat. They look like interchangeable units throughout the lineup. Westside American from Hamilton, Ohio, is one of the powerhouses of the Central Region in Little League. This is their third trip to Williamsport. A very impressive went feat.
Ohio's Kyle Cotcamp gave up only three runs in 16 2/3 innings during their regional run and he continued to pitch well by keeping Massachusetts scoreless through five innings. His counterpart, Sam Faulkson, was just as impressive keeping the Ohio hitters off balance and giving up one lone run from a passed ball. Massachusetts' bats came alive in the sixth inning, though, with a big double in the gap for John White that plated two runs to take the lead. Massachusetts added another insurance run which would become very important.
In the bottom of the inning, Faulkson lost some of his location. He hit the first batter and walked the second of the inning. A sacrifice bunt left Ohio with runners on 2nd and 3rd. A passed ball plated Ohio's second run, but with two outs and a runner on third, John Cornette came to the plate Cornette had three home runs in the regional and with an 0-2 count drove a fastball to deep center field. Massachusetts' Mike Rando went back to the wall, steadied himself, timed his jump, and...came down with an amazing catch leaning over the wall. He brought back a potential walk-off home run and Massachusetts left Game 1 of the LLWS with a 3-2 victory to move to 1-0 in Pool Play. Ohio falls to 0-1.
The catch was one of the best warning track/wall catches I've seen in Williamsport. The first was definitely the full-speed leap into the wall a few years ago by a player from the Midwest. This catch by Rando may be second due to the magnitude of the play. Massachusetts continued to get great pitching from Faulkson who finds ways to get people out. John Adams picked up the one-out save.
I'll have another blog later on tonight about the other U.S. game. Thoughts on Japan/Curacao and Maracaibo/Taiwan will come with it.