Little League World Series 2013: Showcasing Top Stars from Remaining Teams
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
It's championship Saturday at the 2013 Little League World Series.
Only four teams remain from the 16 that traveled to Williamsport for the youth baseball's annual Mecca. Chula Vista, California (West) will battle Westport, Connecticut (New England) for the U.S. Championship in one tilt, while Tijuana, Mexico (Mexico) will take on Tokyo, Japan (Japan) for the International title.
With a spot in the overall championship and regional bragging rights on the line, all bets are off.
As is the case each August in Pennsylvania, we've seen a number of outstanding individual performances at the LLWS this year.
Teamwork, timely plays and strong coaching have helped the four remaining teams reach the semifinals, but we would be remiss not to mention some of the individual stars who will be on display on Saturday.
*For a complete look at the remaining 2013 LLWS schedule, visit LittleLeague.org.
Game 1: Japan vs. Mexico (12:30 p.m. ET on ABC)
Game 2: West vs. New England (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC)
Top Players to Watch
Grant Holman, California
The 6'4" youngster has taken the Little League World Series by storm this year, tossing a no-hitter earlier in the tournament to go along with his game-winning home run against Connecticut to give California a spot in the U.S. title game.
As noted by ESPN's Stats & Info, Holman is doing things in Williamsport we haven't seen in quite some time:
The no-hitter by Grant Holman was 1st extra-inning no-hitter in #LLWS since 1979 (Chinese Tapei vs California)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 16, 2013
His no-hitter against Michigan was also the first such accomplishment from a California pitcher since 1993.
As you can see in this tweet from MLB Fan Cave, Holman is downright imposing:
Holman is eligible to pitch against Westport, but has already tossed 152 pitches in Williamsport so far. His coaching staff might feel he's more valuable in the field and at the plate on Saturday, where his exploits have been on par with those from the mound.
Chad Knight, Connecticut
Knight was the hero for Connecticut on Friday, hitting a game-tying home run in the bottom of the fifth inning against Washington as part of his team's seven-run frame.
He then added another chapter to his epic 2013 trip to Williamsport with a walk-off single to put Connecticut in the U.S. title game.
Oh, and if you haven't noticed by now, the kid's got swag.
Relishing in the moment of his two clutch hits, Knight was the talk of the town on Friday night, and rightly so. As noted by Mary Albl of the New Haven Register, Knight has a chance to duplicate his performance by shutting the potent California lineup down from the hill:
The home run Knight registered was the first of his 2013 tournament, but the young slugger is hitting .429 through four games and has an outstanding OPS of 1.214. Connecticut is in good hands when Knight is making plays.
He's also given up just two earned runs in 8.2 innings at the tournament so far, likely a reason why he's been chosen to take the mound against California.
Between Knight and Holman, the U.S. Championship is in good hands.
Brandon Montes, Mexico
Montes and Ramon Mendoza have paced Mexico's power-laden lineup through four games at the LLWS.
The young men from Tijuana will get a rematch with Japan on Saturday—the team who sent them to the lower part of the bracket earlier in the tournament—after taking down Panama in stunning fashion on Thursday.
Mexico doesn't play for the International Championship without Montes, who reached base four times against Panama and added a solo home run in the contest.
The leadoff hitter has four home runs and six RBI through four games, pacing his team at the plate. Hitting .667 with an unworldly OPS of 2.750, Montes is the ideal leadoff hitter because he can hit for power, average or simply find a way to get on base.
This tweet from LittleLeague Insider sums up Montes' trip to Williamsport so far:
Brandon Montes... Wow. Dude is scary. #LLWS— LittleLeague Insider (@LittleLeaguePro) August 22, 2013
Japan will have its hands full with Montes on Saturday.
It's been an exciting tournament so far at the 2013 Little League World Series, and these three players will do their best to help their teams avoid elimination on Saturday.
Be sure and keep up with all the action as more individuals are sure to etch their name in LLWS folklore based on their performance the rest of the way.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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