The 2013 Little League World Series has captivated baseball purists everywhere since commencing on Aug. 15. Sixteen teams traveled to Williamsport to compete for the title, and as of Friday night, only four remain.
We've seen a number of breathtaking games between United States and international opponents so far, but none stand up to the game the young men from the Northwest (Washington) and New England (Connecticut) regions gave us on Friday afternoon.
Connecticut's Chad Knight—who hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the fifth inning—gave New England a 14-13 win and a spot in the United States champion on Saturday with a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh.
The tournament's official Twitter account had the news as the score became final:
Knight walks it off! Conneticut advances to the US Championship. 14-13 in 7! Amazing game from both teams! #LLWS— Little League (@LittleLeague) August 23, 2013
It was easily the best clash of the 2013 tournament.
Facing the reality of elimination, the kids from Sammamish, Washington, and Westport, Connecticut, entered Friday's game with their sights set on Chula Vista, California—the West division representatives had already punched their ticket to the U.S. championship with a win over New England on Wednesday.
Washington came into the game with a level of revenge on their minds; Connecticut already fended off the Northwest region champions earlier in the LLWS by a score of 9-7.
What followed brought a little bit of everything you would expect in a must-see game.
Looking for offense? Double-digit run totals from both teams might do the trick. Big innings, you say? After Sammamish put up 10 runs in the top-half of the fourth frame to take a 12-5 lead, Westport later responded with a seven-run inning of their own to tie the score at 13.
Not getting enough drama from "Breaking Bad," "Game of Thrones" or whatever television show strikes your fancy these days?
Between timely hits, extra innings, a baserunner interference call and the way the game ended, you would be hard-pressed to find a movie script dripping with as much intrigue as Friday's clash.
Knight's late-game heroics might have been enough to consider the game one of the best of the tournament. ESPN's Tom Haberstroh would likely agree with that assessment:
IN CHAD KNIGHT WE TRUST. WESTPORT, CT GOING TO THE LLWS USA CHAMPIONSHIP. YESSIR!— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) August 23, 2013
But when you factor in the see-saw battle of the scoreboard, the previous matchup as motivation for the underdogs and the big stage for a bunch of kids on the cusp of being teenagers, we've yet to see a game from this year's LLWS stand up in comparison.
Everyone from Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller to the Seattle Mariners had their televisions tuned to ESPN as things heated up in Williamsport:
This a good game btwn Washington n Connecticut in the LLWS— Cj Spiller (@CJSPILLER) August 23, 2013
If you saw this tweet from ESPN's Chris Hassel and didn't heed his advice, it's understandable to be disappointed in your choice:
If you're not watching the LLWS on ESPN, you should turn it there now.— Chris Hassel (@hasselESPN) August 23, 2013
There's been a number of outstanding clashes between teams in Williamsport this year.
The Czech Republic's first-ever win at the tournament, Latin America's late comeback to beat Asia-Pacific and virtually every at-bat and pitch from Chula Vista star Grant Holman have all kept us excited for the upcoming championship games.
Connecticut and Washington put together something special on Friday—something that will go down as an epic memory for fans, families and players alike. There's always going to be a winner and a loser, but there's no shame in the way either team finished their second game against each other this year.
Who will win the 2013 LLWS?
With four matches remaining before a new Little League champion is crowned, we'll all wait with dire anticipation. Region winners from New England, Mexico, West and Japan have all punched their ticket for the semifinals on Saturday, but it will be hard to live up to the showcase given to us on Friday.
It will take quite the tournament finale to take down Connecticut-Washington for "best in show."
*For a complete look at the 2013 LLWS bracket and remaining games, visit LittleLeague.org.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.