Sliding to Saturday: Greenville wins again
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
First a perfect game. Then a no-hitter.
How about a walk-off, extra-inning win?
Greenville North State scored in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday night at the Little League World Series to beat Lufkin, Texas, 2-1, and continue a summer run that has been one of the most fascinating stories of August in eastern North Carolina.
Cash Daniels-Moye raced home from third base with no outs and the bases loaded and slid in to home plate for the winning run, clinching a spot for his team in Saturday afternoon’s U.S. championship game against either the same Lufkin squad or Fairfield, Conn.
Carson Hardee hit a solo home run in the first inning for North State, and then it was mainly a battle of pitching staffs. Strikeouts led the way, including hard-throwing, 6-foot-1 Matthew Matthijs from Greenville racking up 12 strikeouts in 4.1 innings in relief of starter Chase Anderson.
“It’s unbelievable and I know I say it every time, but you can’t write the script any better,” coach Brian Fields said during the postgame news conference posted on littleleague.org. “(Matthijs) is that good and I can tell you that’s one of the best Little League games I’ve ever been a part of.”
“The pitching here was dominant,” ESPN announcer Karl Ravech said during postgame coverage. “Matthew Matthijs struck out 11 straight at one point.”
Greenville came in as the only North Carolina team to ever start 2-0 at the Little League World Series and the only U.S. squad to ever pitch consecutive no-hitters.
Mark Requena hit a double down the left field line to start the Lufkin third inning. He was the 42nd batter North State faced during the LLWS and the first to get a hit.
In the first extra frame — regulation for Little League contests is six innings — Daniels-Moye led off the bottom of the seventh and reached safely on an infield chopper to the left side when the ball was initially bobbled by the third baseman. He got to second base on a wild pitch and took third on Matthijs’ single up the middle.
After an intentional walk loaded the bags, Thomas Barrett hit a ball to the first baseman and the throw went by the catcher just before Daniels-Moye slid for the run and victory. The win kept North State undefeated this summer at 15-0.
Japan was the first team to clinch a spot in weekend play, routing Canada 10-0 in five innings. Japan and Greenville each have allowed one total run in their three victories.
Matthijs accomplished a rare feat with four strikeouts in the top of the fifth. One of the batters reached on a wild pitch and eventually got to third base, but consecutive Ks by Matthijs kept the runner stranded at third in one of the most intense moments of the night.
“It was pumping and my heart was going 100 miles per hour,” Matthijs said during the postgame video. “I tried to just slow it down and breath.”
Lufkin never held a lead. Its only run came in on a fielder’s choice in the third, making it 1-1 after Hardee’s homer in the first frame.
Texas ace Hunter Ditsworth, also a hard-thrower in the mid-70 mph range, reached the 85-pitch limit with a strikeout to end the North State fifth. Because of the pitch count rules, he had to be replaced and cannot pitch again during the tournament.