The opening games for the Little League World Series are officially in the books, and storylines abound.
The Jackie Robinson West little league representative is bringing joy to the entire city of Chicago, the international squads are battling it out for the right to play the American winner and Mo’ne Davis is putting on an absolute show every time she takes the mound.
Davis made some history along the way, as Sports Illustrated pointed out:
Fans will be treated to another round of action Saturday. The schedule and broadcast information can be found below, while a full slate and bracket are available here, courtesy of the event’s website.
|Saturday, August 16||Australia vs. Czech Republic||12 p.m.||ESPN|
|Saturday, August 16||Washington vs. South Dakota||2 p.m.||ABC|
|Saturday, August 16||Canada vs. Venezuela||5 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Saturday, August 16||Tennessee vs. Rhode Island||7 p.m.||ESPN|
Let’s take a closer look at the four elimination games on tap.
Australia vs. Czech Republic
Australia was drubbed by Puerto Rico 16-3 in its first outing, while Czech Republic didn’t fare much better in a 10-3 loss to South Korea.
Australia couldn’t keep the ball over the plate and allowed 13 runs in the first inning. It was a demoralizing way to start the Little League World Series, and it’s hard not to imagine some type of carry-over effect on this one.
On the other hand, Czech Republic was tied at three heading into the fourth inning of its game before things slipped away.
Look for the Czech Republic to seize control of this one early behind the bats of Marek Krejcirik, Miroslav Krivanek and Lukas Pacal. If Australia can’t find the plate again, this one could get out of hand early.
Prediction: Czech Republic 11, Australia 2
Washington vs. South Dakota
Washington ran into a buzzsaw in the Illinois representative and lost its first game 12-2, while Nevada dropped its contest to South Dakota by the same score.
Fortunately for Washington, it won’t have to face Pierce Jones this time around. He blasted three home runs and a triple in that game and almost single-handedly carried the offense. However, Blake Weaver managed to blast a two-run homer in South Dakota’s opening loss and will look to flash his power again.
The thought here is that he will do just that, and Washington will once again be victimized by the long ball.
Prediction: South Dakota 6, Washington 4
Canada vs. Venezuela
Both Canada and Venezuela lost heartbreakers in their openers, with Canada falling 4-3 to Mexico and Venezuela losing 1-0 at the hands of Japan.
Both squads turned in impressive pitching performances, but the lack of offense from Venezuela was particularly troubling moving forward. Japan managed 14 strikeouts thanks to an impressive performance from Takuma Takahashi. He only allowed a single hit and was completely dominant throughout the contest.
Takahashi deserves all the credit for his performance, but it likely soured the confidence of the Venezuela hitters.
Look for Canada to get an early lead behind timely hitting from Joseph Sinclair and company. Sinclair went 2-for-3 in his team’s opener with a run scored and will carry that momentum over into this game. Venezuela will once again fail to come through in a low-scoring affair.
Prediction: Canada 3, Venezuela 1
Tennessee vs. Rhode Island
Tennessee lost to Davis’ Pennsylvania squad 4-0, while Rhode Island lost a heartbreaker 6-4 to Texas after a late-inning rally fell two runs short.
If we are to take a glass half-full approach with Rhode Island, it has some momentum going forward into this game. It was trailing 6-1 heading into the final frame and managed to bring the potential winning run to the plate with an impressive rally. Ideally, that offensive momentum would carry over.
Plus, Rhode Island has an experience advantage, at least in the coaching department. Manager David Belisle led his team to Williamsport in 2011, and commented on what to expect this time, via John Beauge of pennlive.com:
I know what to expect this time. We want the kids to enjoy the atmosphere and all the things they will be going through. But now that I've been through it, we're going to focus a little more on the baseball end of it.
We'll try not to be intimidated like the first time.
Tennessee will have an easier time of things trying to score runs than it did against the dominant Davis, but it still won’t be enough to match the experience and momentum of Rhode Island.
Prediction: Rhode Island 7, Tennessee 5
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