WARNER ROBINS -- It was a moment that tested all that Little League stands for. But leave it to the Warner Robins American Little League softball team to turn a potentially ugly chapter into a mere footnote.
Seemingly motivated by an unfortunate call by one of the volunteer umpires, Warner Robins rallied past Florida in a big way, slugging its way to a 10-2 win in the championship game of the Little League Softball Southeastern Region Tournament on Monday. The International City's hometown heroines now travel to Portland, Ore., with the hopes of becoming the first team since 2004 to successfully defend its Little League Softball World Series title. The World Series begins Aug. 12.
Warner Robins batters pounded out 12 hits in the game, its biggest offensive performance of the tournament. Third-baseman Taylor Brown led the hit parade with three singles and four RBI. Chelsea Whaley, Avery Lamb and Melissa Cox had two hits apiece.
Warner Robins knocked Florida starter Makaleigh Dooley from the game in the top of the third inning. Trailing 2-0, Warner Robins batted around and tallied six runs. Six Warner Robins batters hit safely.
Melissa Cox and Ashley Killebrew hammered back-to-back doubles into the gap in left-center field as Warner Robins took a 3-2 lead. Taylor Brown and M.C. Tucker also delivered sharp, run-scoring singles. Running for Tucker, Peyton Stallworth scored the sixth run of the inning on a wild pitch.
The uprising came in response to a bizarre sequence of events that led to Florida's two-run inning in the bottom of the second inning.
With runners at first and second and one out, Florida's Reed Jahnke rolled a ground ball that Warner Robins first baseman Hayley Tierce handled easily. Tierce stepped on the bag for the second out.
Tierce then threw to second to try to double up Florida's runner Carlee Jacobs as she approached second. The ball beat here, but the force was off and no tag was applied. Regardless, the second base umpire clearly signaled an out.
Warner Robins players made their way off the field as the two Florida baserunners crossed the plate.
Warner Robins manager Roger Stella strenuously objected to the umpire crew's decision to allow the runs to stand. They ruled that Jacobs clearly was not out, and that the second base umpire had made a mistake. The umpires allowed one of the runs to stand and put Jacobs back at second base. She scored moments later on a single by Brooke Diaz.
Lamb pitched a complete game for Warner Robins to earn the win. She allowed just three hits while striking out six. Lamb caught a line drive off Diaz's bat, then doubled off Jahnke at first to end the game.
Lamb, Whaley, Cox, Killebrew and Sierra Stella all played on the Warner Robins 2009 World Series title team. Midway Little League out of Texas won consecutive titles in 2002, '03 and '04.
For more on this game, come back to Macon.com or pick up Tuesday's Telegraph.
Georgia 006 202 - 10 12 1
Florida 020 000 - 2 3 1
WP: Avery Lamb. LP: Makaleigh Dooley.
3B: F - Skyler Boynton
2B: WR - Melissa Cox, Ashley Killebrew
Warner Robins advanced to the Little League Softball World Series Aug. 12-18 in Portland, Ore. WRALL won the World Series title last year.
In the top of the first inning for WRALL, Sierra Stella popped out to short. Chelsea Whaley singled up the middle. Avery Lamb struck out. Hayley Tierce walked. Whaley and Tierce stole third and second, respectively. Melissa Cox walked to load the bases with two outs. Ashley Killebrew grounded out to second for the third out.
In the bottom of the first inning, Kamryn Beach led off for Florida and struck out. Maddy Hall popped out to the pitcher. Erica Matich grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
In the top of the second inning, Taylor Brown led off with a single to right-center field. Amber Coy struck out. Kayla Quakenbush popped out to the third baseman. Stella grounded out to the shortstop for the third out.
In the bottom of the second for Florida, Skyler Boynton popped out to first. Makaleigh Dooley hit an infield single. Carlee Jacobs walked. Reed Jahnke grounded out to first and was forced out. Warner Robins threw to second, touched the base, and Jacobs was called out. WRALL then rolled the ball to the pitcher's mound, since the third out had been called. However, Jacobs should have been called safe since the force had been broken up, and the Florida coach signaled Dooley to run home. The crowd exploded in boos, and the umpires huddled. Eventually, the plate umpire, Southeastern Region staff and coaches from both teams huddled. Florida was awarded one run with two outs. When play resumed, Brooke Diaz singled to left field to score Jacobs for a 2-0 lead. Alyssa Wash struck out to end the inning.
In the top of the third for Warner Robins, Whaley singled to lead off. Lamb reached first on a fielder's choice, advancing Whaley to second. Tierce hit into a fielder's choice and Whaley was thrown out at third. Cox singled to left-center field, scoring Lamb to cut the lead to 2-1. Tierce and Cox advanced to third and second, respectively. Killebrew singled to left-center field, scoring two runs for a 3-2 lead. Brown singled up the middle to drive in Killebrew for a 4-2 lead. Coy grounded out to third, and Brown advanced to second. MC Tucker singled to center, scoring Brown for a 5-2 lead, then advanced to second on the throw home. Stallworth came on to run for Tucker. Stella singled to shallow right field and beat the throw to first. Stallworth advanced to third. Stella took second. Stallworth scored on a wild pitch for a 6-2 lead. Whaley lined out to the pitcher.
For Florida in the bottom of the third, Beach popped out to third base. Hall walked. Matich struck out and Hall advanced to second. Boynton grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth for WRALL, Lamb led off with a single to left field, took second on a wild pitch and stole third. Tierce walked and took second uncontested. Cox walked to load the bases. Killebrew popped out to the pitcher. Brown singled to left field, scoring Lamb and Tierce for an 8-2 lead. Cox moved to third and Brown advanced to second. Stallworth struck out. Tucker hit a fly ball to right for the third out.
In the bottom of the fourth for Florida, Dooley grounded out to second. Jacobs walked. Lauren Bimonte grounded to short and Dooley was thrown out at second for the second out. Diaz struck out to end the inning.
For Warner Robins in the top of the fifth, Stella grounded out to second base. Whaley grounded out to shortstop. Lamb singled to right field. Tierce grounded out to third base.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Wash struck out swinging. Beach walked. Hall grounded out to first for the second out, and Beach advanced. Matich struck out to end the inning.
In the top of the sixth inning for WRALL, Cox singled down the left field line. Killebrew grounded to third, but Cox was called safe on a play at second. Cox and Killebrew advanced to third and second on a passed ball. Brown grounded to short, driving in Cox for a 9-2 lead. Stallworth grounded out to short, scoring Killebrew for a 10-2 lead. Quakenbush popped out to third.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Boynton led off with a triple for Florida. Dooley popped out to the catcher for the first out. Jacobs walked. Jahnke walked. Diaz lined to the pitcher, and Lamb threw to first to double off Jahnke for the final out.
Fans began showing up for the game shortly after 3 p.m. At 5:30, the grandstands - which seat about 2,500 - were approaching full and several hundred fans were sitting on the hill in the outfield. At game time, the crowd was larger than 4,000 and fans were still filing in.
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