SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. Philadelphia's Taney Dragons face a tough road in the Little League World Series after an 8-1 loss Wednesday night to a powerful team from Las Vegas.
It was Taney's first loss of the double-elimination tournament, moving the Dragons to Thursday night's elimination game against Jackie Robinson West of Chicago. The winner will meet the Vegas club, Mountain Ridge, on Saturday. The Las Vegas team, the West Regional champion, has beaten both teams by a combined score of 21-3.
Mountain Ridge emptied its dugout in the sixth inning and waited for Brennan Holligan to circle the bases. The 6-foot-2 player from Las Vegas crushed a towering homer to left field, pushing Taney's Series hopes to the brink.
The West Region which includes Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah has finished in at least third place in each of the last six tournaments.
The estimated attendance for Wednesday's game was 34,128, nearly nine-thousand more than the attendance of the Phillies game Wednesday.
Taney loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning. The Dragons scored just one run on a wild pitch before ending the inning on a strikeout and a double-play line drive.
An inning later, Taney had its first two batters reach base on a walk and a dropped third strike. Jared Sprague-Lott, the next batter, tried to check his swing but ended up putting the ball in play for a fielder's choice out. Zion Spearman and Jack Rice both struck out swinging to end the inning.
Manager Alex Rice removed pitcher Mo'ne Davis after she retired the first out of the third inning. She had thrown 55 pitches, but because of Little League's pitching threshold it is a total count of 49. The threshold allows a pitcher to finish an at-bat after reaching a pitch count mark instead of a manager removing the pitcher in the middle of an-bat. Rice's decision will allow Davis to pitch on Saturday, if the Dragons advance to the U.S. championship game.
The 13-year-old from South Philadelphia struck out six batters and walked one. She allowed six hits, including Dallan Cave's homer in the second inning. The left-fielder, whose father, Ashton, is the team's manager, lined Davis' pitch over the fence in left-center. The ball left in such a hurry that lead runner Drew Laspaluto sprinted around third, thinking it was in play. The manager, who was coaching third base, told him to slow down. Even Davis proved unable to tame Las Vegas' potent bats.
Davis allowed the game's first two batters to reach base, including Austin Krysczuk's run-scoring triple. The pitcher settled in, striking out three straight batters to strand a Vegas runner on third.
The Las Vegas manager disputed a call with two strikes, two outs, and a man on third. The umpire upheld his initial ruling; Andrew Matulich's drive was a foul ball. Davis fired the next pitch past Matulich to end the inning.
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