Williamsport Bound: Lafayette Rally Wins Southwest Regional
Lafayette Little League coach Leland Padgett got his team together before the bottom of the sixth inning in their Southwest Regional final last night against Pearland, Texas. They trailed 7-3. They had been in tough positions before.
“Here we go….cardiac Cajuns,” he said to his team, heard on ESPN2.
And, as they have so many times, they responded.
Nick Fruge’s game-tying homer with two out in the sixth tied the game, setting the stage for Cain Castille, who tripled and scored the winning run on a throwing error in the seventh to lead Lafayette to the improbable 8-7 win, securing their spot at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.
Earlier in the game, Pearland’s Austin Hurst was set up to be the hero. He was 3-4 with a double, homer and six rbi as Pearland jumped out to a 7-2 lead. And, the way starting pitcher Nicholas Landrum was pitching, it looked like that would be enough. Landrum allowed two runs in the first inning, then shut down the potent Lafayette bats the rest of the way, allowing only a fifth inning run to make it 7-3/
But a couple of years ago, Little League Baseball instituted a pitch count. Eighty-five and you’re done.
Landrum was at 82 pitches starting the sixth. And, when winning pitcher Ethan Hines led off the sixth with a single, Landrum had to be removed from the game. Reliever Jacob Whitehead gave up a walk to Michael Guidry and a one-out double to Zach Stritzinger to make the score 7-4. Whitehead got the second out, but Fruge tied the game with a three-run shot to right that tied the game and sent the contest to extra innings.
Hines got Pearland out in the seventh. And, with one out, Castille hit a looper to right that just landed fair and then kicked into foul territory. Castille was on his way to third when the ball was thrown away, allowing the winning run to score.
Hines was stellar in relief, allowing just one run in 4.1 innings of work, with five strikeouts.
Lafayette will now take on the Southeast regional winner in their first game at the World Series. It will be played next Thursday at 7pm.