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Greenville rewriting history

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JoeJoe Byrne heads for home plate to celebrate with Cameron Greenway (8) and Bryce Jackson after Byrne's home run.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, August 20, 2017

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT Pa. — A lot of the 12- and 13-year-olds at the Little League World Series have outgrown the fields on which they play, making home runs the main attraction during games.

Not against the team from Greenville.

North State’s pitchers followed Friday night’s perfect game with a five-inning no-hitter Sunday afternoon in a dominant 16-0 victory over Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., to move to 2-0 in the World Series. This was the first time an American team has ever thrown consecutive no-hitters in Little League World Series history.

“It still hasn’t hit me yet, but I just know that we are throwing really good right now and winning,” said Chase Anderson, the starting pitcher who threw three perfect innings and left the mound with his team leading 6-0.

Matthew Matthijs was Greenville’s second and final pitcher, not allowing a hit during two innings. He struck out three batters and walked two.

North State’s timely offense produced seven extra-base hits, including a grand slam by Carson Hardee (2-for-4, five RBIs) in the second inning that sent a big jolt through the third base bleachers that were full of Greenville fans wearing yellow. JoeJoe Byrne hit a homer to start the North State second inning.

Bobby Gray was California’s first baserunner, drawing a walk with one out in the bottom of the fourth. The Greenville offense then exploded in the top of the fifth for nine runs and a 16-0 lead.

“You talk about peaking at the right time, and we had everything working today,” coach Brian Fields said. “We’ve been riding that pitching and defense all summer. It was just a matter of time before those bats started waking up.”

The game was called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.

North State, the U.S. Southeast Regional representative in the 16-team, double-elimination field, plays Lufkin, Texas, on Wednesday. The winner of that game goes straight to the U.S. Championship game Saturday.

“When you are watching it on TV, it feels like everything is so far away and you have to win so many games just to get there,” Hardee said. “Now we are here. … But I don’t think it’s going to hit until we get back to Greenville.”

Thomas Barrett stayed hot with two doubles as part of a 3-for-4 performance. Cameron Greenway went 2-for-2 to help an 18-hit team attack.

The matchup was the last as part of a historic day for Major League Baseball and the Little League World Series. Members of the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals roamed around the Little League complex during the afternoon and all of the Little League players went to the first-ever MLB Little League Classic played in Williamsport on Sunday night.

Before the Greenville game, catcher Bryce Jackson took a picture with potential future Baseball Hall of Fame player Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals. Greenville’s Jacob Calder caught a ceremonial first pitch tossed by Cardinals hurler Lance Lynn.

The kids talked about how much they look up to the major leaguers, but that might not be the case for the 6-foot-1, 149-pound Matthijs.

“I was taller than a few of them, but not many,” the 13-year-old said. “A lot of them were big.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

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