For the six teams in action at the Little League World Series on Tuesday, nothing can be taken for granted. Every strikeout, run, hit, error and walk takes on an added importance with elimination on the line.
With the structure of the tournament, saying the three games are "win or go home" would be inaccurate because there's the consolation round and losers' bracket. But nobody dreams of going to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and making it to the consolation round.
Expect a few tears on Tuesday.
|Time (ET)||Team 1||Team 2||TV||Prediction|
|12 p.m.||Canada||Tennessee||ESPN||Canada, 5-3|
|3:30 p.m.||Venezuela||Mexico||ESPN||Venezuela, 3-1|
|7:30 p.m.||Texas||Illinois||ESPN||Illinois, 6-4|
Note: All games are available to live stream on WatchESPN.com.
Tennessee vs. Canada
Both of these teams have already been eliminated from the tournament and are down in the consolation bracket. Tennessee lost to Pennsylvania in its first game and dropped its second to Rhode Island. Canada followed up a defeat at the hands of Mexico with a loss to Venezuela.
It's like in college football when a team's had a bad season but still qualified for a bowl game. Sure, everything didn't go according to plan, but at least you can end the season on a positive note.
You can't get much of a read on either team based off of their previous games in Williamsport. A 4-3 loss was proceeded by a 10-0 shellacking for Canada. Tennessee was shut out and then scored seven runs in their next game, only to have Rhode Island score eight.
In qualifying for the Little League World Series, they demonstrated a similar unpredictability in terms of their performance from one game to the next. This one could go either way.
Canada 5, Tennessee 3
Venezuela vs. Mexico
As good as Mexico was against Canada, it was outclassed by Japan in its next game.
That changed on Monday as Erick Vela played the hero against Australia. With Mexico down 2-1, he hammered a three-run home run to grab a 4-2 lead.
Azteca Deportes' Nancy Arreola captured the celebration at home plate as Vela came home:
Ruy Martinez, who stands at 4'8", added a solo homer as well, via JWerthGnome on Vine.
Martinez impressed Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton:
Love watching Ruy from Mexico.. Little guy can hit!! #LittleLeagueWorldSeries #Fellow#1— Adam Eaton (@AdamSpankyEaton) August 18, 2014
Venezuela was a bit unlucky to draw Japan in its very first game. Japan is historically one of the strongest teams in the tournament, and this year is no different. Those two teams are good enough to go all the way.
The Venezuelans proved their worth after hammering Canada and then beating a tough Puerto Rico team 2-1. The winning run came when Jorge Cabrera ran home following an errant throw to third by the catcher.
Venezuela has the right balance of pitching and hitting that should see the team through.
Venezuela 3, Mexico 1
Texas vs. Illinois
The group from Illinois was one of the more buzzworthy American teams in the LLWS before play began. Jackie Robinson West has the added importance of coming from Little League's Urban Initiative.
It's no secret that baseball is suffering from a lack of interest among younger kids, especially those from urban areas. Seeing a team from Chicago is an encouraging sign for the future.
"Hopefully (Chicago's success) will foster more growth in urban cities to help grow Little League," said Paul Graziano, who's worked as a press box announcer at the Little League World Series for the past 34 years, per CBSNews.com.
Illinois was humbled, 13-2, by Nevada but did very well to come back from being down 7-6 to beat Rhode Island 8-7.
It meets Texas on Tuesday night.
The pitching staff from Pearland has been a bit taxed of late as the team tries to stave off elimination.
"Every kid on this team has pitched," said manager Don Smith, per Tom Robinson of the Houston Chronicle. "They're very talented pitchers in our Little League program, all split up over six different teams. Just because we haven't had the opportunity to use one of the other pitchers, doesn't mean they're not talented or we don't have confidence in them to get the job done."
Pearland's rotation could really use a day off, so it will be interesting to see if it holds up on Tuesday.
If Illinois jumps on Texas early, that could be all she wrote.
Illinois 6, Texas 4