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Little League World Series: 10 Most Memorable Players and Performances

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2011

Little League World Series: 10 Most Memorable Players and Performances

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    Over the years, the Little League World Series has grown in popularity and is now featured prominently on ESPN each season, and rightfully so, as the kids have provided some fantastic moments over the years.

    While it is certainly a different game from the MLB or even high school baseball, Little League baseball reminds us what it means to play baseball simply for the love of the game and nothing else.

    So here is a look at the 10 most memorable players, teams, games and individual moments in the history of the Little League World Series.

No. 10: Michael Rando (2007)

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    It was the opening game of the 2007 LLWS between Hamilton, Ohio and Walpole, Mass., and the team from Ohio entered the game with a 14-0 record in qualifying play and held a 1-0 lead entering the top of the sixth inning.

    However, Walpole struck for three runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead, and after Hamilton cut the lead to 3-2, they came to their final at bat with a runner on third and cleanup hitter John Cornett at the plate.

    When Cornett got into one and drove it to deep center field, it looked to be gone off the bat. However, Walpole center fielder Michael Rando leaped at the wall and made the game-saving and subsequently game-ending catch.

No. 9: Chin-Hsiung Hsieh (1996)

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    The 1996 LLWS clearly belonged to the team from Chinese Taipei, as they outscored their opponents 62-9 over their five games on their way to a 13-3 win in the championship game.

    The offense came from all throughout the lineup, but one player in particular made a huge impact with the bat, and that was Chin-Hsiung Hsieh.

    In the five games, he hit .706 (12-for-17) with a record seven home runs and 15 RBI, as he was a one-man wrecking crew on one of the most dominant teams in the history of the tournament.

No. 8: Lloyd McClendon (1971)

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    While he was a decent major league player and manager, Lloyd McClendon's crowning achievement in baseball may very well have come at the age of 12.

    The star of the Gary, Ind. team that year, McClendon hit five home runs in five official at bats over the span of three games, as he was intentionally walked in his other five plate appearances.

    As if that was not enough, he was also the team's ace pitcher, and he pitched eight innings and gave up three runs in the championship game against Chinese Taipei.

    The team would fall in the ninth inning when Taipei scored nine runs in the top of the inning to build an insurmountable lead, but McClendon's performance goes down as perhaps the most complete and most dominant in LLWS history.

No. 7: Jesus Sauceda (2008)

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    Pitching against Italy in the 2008 LLWS, Mexico ace Jesus Sauceda turned in perhaps the finest all-around performance in the history of the tournament.

    On the mound, he pitched four perfect innings, striking out all 12 batters he faced. At the plate, he went 3-for-3 with six RBI, including a grand slam.

    His team won in four innings because of the mercy rule, so while his perfect game did not go the full six innings, there is no doubt that his performance goes down as one of the best ever.

No. 6: Rich Cominski (1957)

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    Back in the day before international teams were part of the LLWS, Morrisville, Pa. and Merchantville, N.J. met up in the 1957 championship game.

    The game was already a historic one, as 88-year-old Cy Young threw out the first pitch, but it would only get better from there.

    With the teams all knotted up at 3-3 after six innings, the game went into extras, and Morrisville right fielder Rich Cominski led off the bottom of the seventh inning with the first walk-off, series-winning home run in the history of the Little League World Series.

No. 5: Michael Memea (2005)

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    The 2005 LLWS championship game between Ewa Beach, Hawaii and Wilemstad, Curacao marked just the fourth time in history that final game went into extra innings and the first time since 1979.

    Facing defending champions Curacao, the team from Hawaii was the clear underdog, and when the team from Wilemstad took a 6-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning, things looked grim for the U.S. representatives.

    However, the team mounted an impressive comeback, scoring three runs to send the game to extra innings. After holding Curacao scoreless in the top of the seventh, Michael Memea ended the game with one swing of the bat to lead off the bottom of the inning, giving his team the win in dramatic fashion, 7-6.

No. 4: Dalton Carriker (2007)

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    When the championship game of the LLWS went into extra innings for just the fifth time ever and the second time in three years, fans wondered if they would be treated to the walk-off heroics that ended the 2005 series, and they were in luck.

    It took until the bottom of the eighth inning, but Warner Robins, Ga. slugger Dalton Carriker ended things with one swing of the bat, as he drilled a 2-1 pitch to the opposite field for a walk-off home run as the team from Georgia topped Tokyo 3-2.

    The image of Carriker running the bases with both hands in the air has become among the most iconic in LLWS history.

    Reliever Kendall Scott deserves credit as well, as he gave up just one hit while striking out 10 in five innings of relief to keep things tied and set up Carriker's heroics.

No. 3: Cody Webster (1982)

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    The 1982 Little League World Series marked the first time the championship game was on national TV, and the kids from Kirkland, Wash. made the most of their chance at the spotlight.

    Facing a team from Taiwan that had not lost in 31 games, needless to say, they were underdogs, but there was little doubt they had the best player on either side in Cody Webster.

    In that final game, he pitched a two-hitter and hit the longest home run in LLWS history at a whopping 280-feet as Kirkland upset the team from Taiwan.

    The game later became the focus of one of ESPN's 30 for 30 specials, entitled "Little Big Men."

No. 2: Danny Almonte (2001)

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    Almonte was not only the talk of the 2001 LLWS, but the talk of the sports world when he followed up a no-hitter in the Mid-Atlantic Regional finals with a perfect game in the U.S. semifinals in a span of five days.

    His team fell in the U.S. finals without their ace on the hill, but the team and Almonte were the story of the series regardless. Almonte was dubbed as the next pitching phenom, but concerns rose about his age.

    After some investigation, it was discovered that Almonte was in fact 14 years old and not 12, and he was declared ineligible and his team's wins were forfeited.

    While his story is one of deceit, there is no doubt that the Danny Almonte story will forever be one that is talked about whenever the Little League World Series is brought up.

No. 1: Angel Macias (1957)

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    In the championship game of the 1957 LLWS, the team from Monterrey, Mexico took on La Mesa, Calif., and with a team that averaged 4'11" and 92 pounds, the team from Monterrey looked like a clear underdog.

    However, they had a stud in the ambidextrous Angel Macias, and he took the mound in the championship game pitching right-handed against a righty-heavy La Meas lineup.

    He went on to pitch a perfect game, striking out 11, as his team took the title with a 4-0 victory, becoming the first international team to win the LLWS.

    The story was made into a movie in 2009, entitled The Perfect Game, with actor Jake T. Austin playing the part of Macias.

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