Throughout Wednesday’s thrilling Little League World Series, Northeast Seattle fans were at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pa., faces in hands, seemingly unwilling to witness the tense moments of each half.
By contrast, Northeast Seattle players and coaches were eagerly on the dugout fence during every second of the semifinal game against Texas. Every throw and shot counts, as the winner advances to the US Championship match.
Northeast Seattle, representing Washington and the Northwest regional champion, got a dominant performance from starting pitcher Larson Eng and made some key defensive plays to keep him close but lost 1-0. Texas scored the only run of the game on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.
Texas may end up facing Northeast Seattle again in the US Championship game on Saturday.
Northeast Seattle is in the loser bracket, facing California at 4 p.m. PT on Thursday. The winner of Thursday’s game, which will be televised by ESPN, advances to the United States Championship game.
Northeast Seattle MVP Trey Kirchhoff is available Thursday after throwing 50 pitches in Monday’s game. Brooks Shewey will also be available after comfortably throwing 21 home runs on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Northeast Seattle couldn’t solve the problem of Texas starting quarterback Easton Bing. He pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out nine, and his fastball beat Northeast Seattle hitters.
The engineer in northeast Seattle nearly matched Bing. Engineer pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings, allowing six hits and striking out nine, and his sweeping balls caused Texas hitters to chase pitches outside the strike zone.
Eng also reached base in all three of his appearances at the plate, recording a hit and two walks.
Northeast Seattle had a chance to open the scoring on fifth when runners were on first and second with one out. Brett Taylor ripped a single to midfield, but Ng was tagged to the plate after a hard throw from Easton Underuch.
With a runner on first in the sixth, the Texas hitter put up a slam dunk. Eng’s throw to first base was wild, but right fielder Nolan Chang backed up the play and threw out a runner trying to advance to third.
Matthew Fisher relieved Engineer in the sixth with the bases loaded and one out. Fischer scored a knockdown, and midfielder Kirchhoff made an acrobatic jump for the third goal, keeping the game scoreless.
For the first time in the tournament, Northeast Seattle had to go deep in the bullpen, using three relievers after the engineer.
Shewee relieved Fisher in the seventh with the bases loaded and no outs. Shewe hit three batters in a row and jumped off the mound as he ran into the arms of his father and team coach Christian Shewe.
Northeast Seattle had another major scoring opportunity in the eighth, thanks in part to the Little League’s base runner rule. After starting the inning on second base, Kirchhoff stole third with one out. Ondruch then struck out three consecutive Northeast Seattle batters to end the threat.