Game 16
Great Lakes 1 vs.
Northwest 6

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
3:00PM ET

Oswego-es On
Northwest champs from Lake Oswego, Oregon advance out of Pool A with a 6-1 win over West Side Little League

By Allie Weinberger
Special Correspondent

Will there be a tomorrow?

That was the question on the minds of 24 Little Leaguers from Lake Oswego, Ore. and Hamilton, Ohio as they prepared to do battle Monday morning in one of two win-and-you’re-in games in Pool A.

The angst had to wait a day, thanks to the rain, and Tuesday couldn’t come soon enough for the Northwest champs, who defeated their Great Lakes rivals, 6-1, in front of 3,400 at Volunteer Stadium Tuesday afternoon to advance to a United States semi-final game Thursday.

Entering Tuesday’s matchups, all four teams in Pool A – Oregon, Ohio, Massachusetts and Georgia – all had identical 1-1 records. But by day’s end, four would become two, and two teams will be the odd boys out.

“We’ve always played well in those [high-pressure, single elimination] games, so to be in this position is really truly amazing,” said Northwest manager Craig Ramey. “These kids have played really well in these situations, so hopefully we’ll keep it up.”

In reality, all the Northwest champs needed to secure a spot in the next round was the bottom of the first inning.

Second baseman Austin Andrews got the scoring going from the leadoff spot, taking a 3-2 fastball from Ohio’s Kyle Cotcamp yard, easily clearing the 225-foot right field fence.

“I was just looking for a base hit,” said Andrews. “I just saw a pitch I liked and just drove it out of the park.”

“I certainly was hoping for a base hit out of him or to get on base,” said Ramey. “The home run was just a huge bonus for us and really got us going right away, which was just great to see.”

Third baseman Duncan Campbell followed suit with a single that slipped through the right side of the infield. Two batters later, catcher Brennan Malagamba sent a double over the head of a right fielder Cody Lehman that fell onto the warning track, allowing Campbell to take home on the throw to second.

A wild pitch sent Malagamba to third, while a two-out walk to Harrison Ramey put runners on the corners for Michael Gallagher before Cotcamp worked himself out of the jam, striking Gallagher out looking.

“I don’t think we felt any added pressure [coming into the game],” said Ohio manager Tim Nichting. “But I will say once Oregon scored, I think kids started getting down.”

But the West Side Little Leaguers came back quickly in the top of the second, when a single into shallow left by John Cornett sent speedy catcher Brandon Green around to score from first and shorten the gap, 2-1.

After two quick outs in the bottom of the second, Cotcamp got into a jam walking Andrews and giving up a sharply hit double up the middle off the bat of Campbell. But with two in scoring position, the Great Lakes hurler avoided any further damage, getting bigman Mitch Lomax to chase up high for the final out, preserving just a one-run deficit.

“They only got it 2-1,” said Nichting. “We just couldn’t get that big hit when we needed it.”

But in the bottom of the fourth, the Northwest champions did.

Oregon’s Michael Weiss led off the inning, lining a Cotcamp offering back up the middle just over the outstretched glove of 5-foot-11 shortstop Tyler Richards, making himself an immediate scoring threat. A bobble in center field allowed Weiss to take second and an error at third put pitcher Levi Rudolph on and runners at the corners.

Two batters later, Andrews dropped an RBI single onto the right field warning track to up the score to 3-1.

And after 73 pitches, with runners on the corners, Cotcamp handed the ball off to reliever Cornett. The fresh arm allowed the Great Lakes to get three straight and retire the side, but not before a sacrifice pop from Lomax scored the fourth run from the corner for a 4-1 advantage.

“We just haven’t hit the ball that well,” said Ramey, whose squad had gone 11-for-51 with just five runs in its previous two LLWS games. “We felt like today we could come out and hit the ball like we know we can.”

A line drive into centerfield off the bat of Richards in the fifth would be Rudolph’s last batter, thanks to the new 85-pitch limit, and with two outs he passed the job off to 6-foot-1 lefty Calvin Hermanson. Hermanson got the Northwest champs out of the inning unscathed.

The boys from the Great Lakes weren’t so lucky in the bottom of the fifth. Cornett handed Ramey his second walk of the day before giving Hermanson the ammo for an RBI double that dropped in just before the warning track. Left fielder Derrick Best picked it up and hit the cutoff man, but the throw home was just high, preventing Green from putting the tag on Ramey at home.

The Northwest’s eighth hit of the game drove the score to 5-1.

Weiss’s single up the middle was followed up by Rudolph’s bunt single down the first baseline that scored Hermanson. Weiss got 60 feet closer on a wild pitch during the next at-bat, and the Great Lakes champs ceded second to Rudolph on defensive indifference the following pitch.

With runners on first and second and two out, T.J. Nichting took over on the mound for a struggling Jake Hyde, inheriting a 2-2 count before punching out Andrews and getting Campbell to pop out to short.

But the damage was done. The Northwest was three short outs from a 6-1 victory – outs Hermanson got by downing side in order to end game. The closer got the save and retired all four batters he faced.

“He’s kinda fallen into that closer roll,” Ramey said of Hermanson. “It takes a while to find who is gonna step up and play some of these big roles. He really has a calm demeanor, he does really well in pressure situations, he’s a big lefty, got a good curveball – so he’s really somebody we look to now to close out a game.”

“They came out aggressive in the first inning or two and we didn’t come out as aggressive and we needed to, or hit the ball the way we needed to,” said Nichting. “Bottom line is: we had two hits, they had 10. That pretty much tells you who won. We had to hit, and we didn’t hit.”


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