SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Their parents call them the “cardiac kids.”
There is a reason why the name fits after the late-inning comebacks this team has had.
After battling against the Great Lakes for nine innings and three hours, the Southeast team from Warner Robins pulled off victory yet again, winning 8-5 on Monday at the Little League World Series.
Second to bat in the top of the ninth was Josh Goodman.
Goodman, who bats eighth in the lineup, delivered a single and said he knew he just had to get a base hit.
“I was trying to start a rally,” he said.
His single did just that.
Pinch-runner Evan Lasseter came in for Goodman. Dillon Toms was walked by Great Lakes pitcher Travis Faith. Logan Arnett was the second out, but then Lasseter came in to score on a wild pitch by Faith.
Next up was Jake Fromm, and he crushed a two-run home run to center field to give a little insurance to the Southeast.
In the bottom of the ninth, Fromm struck out Jacob Bates and Griffin McLarty. The Great Lakes team from La Grange, Ky., challenged the final out, a grounder from Jackson Mason, saying Jacob Giles pulled his foot off the bag at first base. The call on the field stood, and the Southeast boys could finally celebrate.
Offense has been a problem for the Southeast team, but it broke out with more runs Monday than it had since the Georgia state tournament at the end of July.
“The story of this tournament is we can’t hit the ball at all,” manager Phillip Johnson said.
But the pitching saved the day Monday.
Giles, Odom and Fromm all pitched for Warner Robins, and they are ineligible to pitch for Tuesday’s game against either the Southwest team from Lafayette, La., the or Mid-Atlantic team from Clinton, County, Pa.
Giles went 50 pitches, Odom threw 46 and Fromm delivered 62 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit, and striking out 10 in relief.
“You gotta win the game you’re in,” Johnson said.
When asked about how the pitching was looking for the upcoming game, Johnson replied “not good.”
Johnson said some players who haven’t pitched during the tournament will have to pitch, but Fromm knows what needs to be done.
“We’re going to have to hit,” he said.
Great Lakes’ offense got off to a fast start with a two-run homer by Griffin McLarty in the first inning. The 2-0 lead stood until the third, when Warner Robins scored five runs.
Logan Fink started off the inning with a double, and Lasseter came in to run for Fink. Goodman followed it up with a double of his own, getting Lasseter home. Logan Arnett hit a shot down the third-base line to tie the score at 2. Fromm walked, and then Odom singled to score Goodman.
Giles walked, loading the bases for Austin Burnette, who was hit by a pitch, and Lasseter added a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
But Great Lakes rallied to tie the game at 5, and there was no scoring until the ninth when Southeast pulled away.
Arnett said the coaches told the players to keep base runners to a minimum.
“We just had to work a little harder,” Arnett said.
The pitching situation will have the whole team needing to step up its at-bats. Fromm said he will try to encourage his teammates, and they have experience in tight situations.
“We do well under pressure,” Fromm said.