Perfect start for North State
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Friday, August 18, 2017
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Perfect. Perfecto. perfetto. parfait.
In a Little League World Series event mostly characterized by young players of all kinds converging in eastern Pennsylvania for about two weeks, Greenville North State’s pitching trio of Chase Anderson, Matthew Matthijs and Carson Hardee produced a baseball term that is universal to all who know the sport: A perfect game.
The pitchers retired all 18 Sioux Falls, S.D., batters in a 6-0 North State victory in its first game at the worldwide Little League spectacle on Friday night. Anderson pitched three innings, Matthijs struck out five of the eight batters he faced and Hardee came in and got a strikeout to cap the perfect night.
“Yes, I was aware,” Hardee said of knowing that a perfect game was on the line when he took the mound with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. “I was a little bit nervous, but I did feel comfortable because the other guys had just done it.”
Hardee also had the key defensive play, shifting to his right from his shortstop position and making a diving catch on a line drive hit to him for the second out of the fifth inning.
The previous perfect game at the Little League World Series was by Jesus Sauceda of Mexico in a solo act on Aug. 17, 2008.
“I don’t really know what to say, but these guys have done it all summer,” coach Brian Fields said. “They throw strikes and work the strike zone and get ahead of hitters. That’s what you need to do in Little League.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them to do such a wonderful job on that stage.”
The big outing earned North State — the U.S. Southeast Regional representative — a day off. Its next game is Sunday at 2 p.m. against Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Ten of the 18 South Dakota batters were retired via strikeout.
“You can’t make that stuff up, but you dream about it,” Anderson said of being the starting pitcher for the perfect game.
Attendance for the primetime ESPN matchup was 9,923. Pregame festivities included North State’s Drew Fields citing the Little League pledge and both teams going through dance routines on the field in front of a stadium full of eager people as the 8:15 first pitch was just minutes away.
The Greenville club got a big boost with a four-run top of the third inning. Drew Fields hit an RBI single during the rally, and he also had a double in the fifth to score Thomas Barrett for the game’s final run.
Ashton Byars had a big hit with a two-run double as a pinch hitter during the third. Barrett finished 2-for-2 with two runs scored.
Contact Ronnie Woodward at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.