It's win or go home on Monday in the 2014 Little League World Series. All four bracket games carry the threat of elimination, while the consolation matchup will feature an intriguing international crossover game for two teams that have already dropped out of the main competition.
Every team in the United States bracket appears to be chasing Taney Youth of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They have a home-field advantage of sorts, as the tournament takes place in nearby Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In the international bracket, the Little Leaguers from Tokyo, Japan, appear to be the finest team from outside the States.
The squads in play on Monday don't have perfect starts, but there is talent here capable of upsetting the aforementioned front-runners, provided they can get the job done and escape the loser's bracket.
Here is the schedule for Day 5 along with television info for those unwilling to miss a minute of the action from the Little League World Series.
|Game||Time (ET)||Matchup||TV Info||Live Stream|
|Consolation Game A||11 a.m.||Rapid City, South Dakota vs. Czech Republic||ESPN 2||WatchESPN|
|Game 17||1 p.m.||Mexico vs. Australia||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Game 18||3 p.m.||Pearland, Texas vs. Lynnwood, Washington||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Game 19||6 p.m.||Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico||ESPN 2||WatchESPN|
|Game 20||8 p.m.||Chicago, Illinois vs. Cumberland, Rhode Island||ESPN 2||WatchESPN|
Here is a preview for Day 5 along with predictions for each game.
Day 5 Preview
Rapid City, South Dakota vs. Czech Republic
The first game on Monday's slate of action is all in the spirit of fun and competition. South Dakota and Czech Republic both dropped their first two games in this double-elimination tournament, but the organizers won't let them go home without a chance to play one more time on the big stage.
One could forgive the South Dakota kids for being a bit upset in this situation, as they failed to protect a late 5-4 lead against Lynnwood, Washington.
The kids from the Czech Republic have had a problem putting up runs against elite competition. They scored just three runs against South Korea and just one run against Australia. They gave up 10 runs in both of those games.
Expect South Dakota to have ample opportunity to score enough runs to come away with a comfortable victory.
Prediction: South Dakota 9-2 Czech Republic
Mexico vs. Australia
Australia lost by 13 runs to Puerto Rico in their opening-round game, then dished out some major punishment of their own in a 10-1 win over Czech Republic. Facing the easier competition heading into a game against a tough Mexico squad should be good for the team's confidence.
Which international team playing on Monday has the best chance of reaching the final?
They will look for Javier Pelkonen, who had three RBI against Czech Republic, and outfielder Blake Monaghan to carry them past Mexico.
Mexico has a bit more talent across the board than Australia, including standout pitcher/shortstop Juan Garza, who registered nine strikeouts in four innings of a 4-3 win over a tough team from Canada.
They did lose 9-5 to Japan, but the scoring output is a remarkable achievement in its own right since the latter team has plenty of pitching talent and makes it difficult to string together quality at-bats.
Garza's arm should be well-rested after pitching on Friday; if he gets the nod from his manager, look for him to lead Mexico past Australia.
Prediction: Mexico 7-3 Australia
Pearland, Texas vs. Lynnwood, Washington
Pearland, Texas, suffered a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to Taney Youth on Sunday night. They gave up the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and now must face a hungry team from Lynnwood, Washington, in the loser's bracket.
Lynnwood is looking to take the scenic route to the World Series final, something that manager Robley Corsi Jr. chalked up to his young squad's love of baseball.
"We’ve been here before,” Corsi Jr. said, via Josh Brokaw of The Seattle Times. “We like to play baseball apparently."
Unfortunately for Lynnwood, Pearland might have a better lineup top to bottom and should be able to eke out a victory on Monday. Look for young Cole Smajstrla, who notched four RBI against Taney Youth, and Layne Roblyer to lead their team to a win.
Prediction: Texas 6-5 Washington
Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico dominated Australia 16-3, only to promptly lose to South Korea by a score of 8-5. It shows that there may be quite a gulf in talent between some of the teams in the international bracket, making Puerto Rico's true ability difficult to gauge.
Of course, Puerto Rico features a mammoth player in the form of Erick Figueroa. FanSided has the scoop on his imposing size:
He's capable of playing both first base and pitcher, although his team may need him concentrating on hitting to beat Venezuela.
Venezuela played extremely well in a tough 1-0 loss to Japan. They were very disciplined throughout the game, and young Jorge Cabrera did his best to try and match Takuma Takahashi's brilliance on the mound. Cabrera wasn't overpowering by any stretch of the imagination, but he scattered eight hits over six innings of work.
It may be too soon for him to get the call again on Monday, but his performance means the rest of Venezuela's pitchers should be well-rested and ready to hold off Puerto Rico.
Prediction: Venezuela 3-2 Puerto Rico
Chicago, Illinois vs. Cumberland, Rhode Island
After racking up several huge wins throughout qualifying and the World Series finals, Chicago's Jackie Robinson West finally tripped up against Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday, losing by a final score of 13-2.
This puts their compelling World Series run in jeopardy, as they now must take on a strong Rhode Island team that has already avoided elimination once and will be playing on a extra day's rest.
Jackie Robinson West manager Darold Butler noted the route likely hasn't deterred his team from soldiering on. They may be eager to play their best and eventually face Nevada again.
Which United States team playing on Monday has the best chance of making it to the final?
"Believe it or not, I'm glad we saw them now,” Butler said, via the Chicago Tribune's Josh Brokaw. “I know how my kids are. That's the game they want now. They took an L so they're really looking to get on the field again."
Jackie Robinson West should have the firepower to overcome Rhode Island's Cumberland American squad. Pierce Jones proved he's a home run threat with three round-trippers against Washington, and Cam Bufford has a grand slam from qualifying to his credit. It won't be easy for the kids from Chicago, but they have the talent to prevail in this one.
Prediction: Illinois 5-3 Rhode Island