WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Jorge Mateo lined up a homerun double to left field in the eighth inning, leading in three runs and propelling the Baltimore Orioles to a 5-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night in front of hundreds of enthusiastic Little League World Series players from around the world.
Mateo kept the Orioles 2 1/2 games behind in the race for the last AL wildcard spot, and Baltimore won the fifth MLB Little League Classic in front of former President George W. Bush and a sold-out crowd of 2,467 fans at historic Bowman Field. Bush shook hands with Orioles and Red Sox players and walked into the stands to meet the Little Leaguers and their families.
The kids went wild when Mateo snatched a shot from John Schreiber for the three-RBI double and a 5-2 lead. Matt Barnes (0-4) took the loss.
Red Sox pinch hitter Franchy Cordero hit a solo homer to tie reliver Dillon Tate in the eighth that made it 2-all. Cordero had been called up for the match by Triple-A Worcester.
Cionel Pérez (7-1) took the victory in relief. Félix Bautista gave up a solo homer to Xander Bogaerts in the ninth, but still made his eighth save.
Among the fans were the father, brother and teammates of injured Utah Little League player Easton Oliverson. The 12-year-old boy suffered serious head injuries when he fell from his top bunk in the dorms. Jace Oliverson, the boy’s father, said Easton was due to return to Utah on Tuesday and would remain in a hospital there.
“I’m just thankful he’s still alive because I was pretty much told he had no chance of living,” Oliverson told The Associated Press. “We feel very lucky.”
The rest of the day was marked by the usual revelry now associated with a game in which millionaire big leaguers can act like kids for a day. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde and Red Sox manager Alex Cora both took cardboard walks on the outer hill outside the Little League World Series stadium. Just like the stars of both teams.
The front row seats behind the dugouts belonged to 12-year-olds dressed in full uniforms and clinging to every pitch – well, at least when they weren’t chasing team mascots for photos or taking pictures. storm the hall between each inning in hopes of having a major leaguer throw a ball at them.
“It’s really just to see the pure emotions in everyone, all the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Orioles outfielder Ryan McKenna said. “There were a bunch of kids wanting autographs. I told them ‘what’s going on?’
Not much once the game starts.
Anthony Santander and Ramon Urias had RBI singles in the first against Boston’s Nick Pivetta. Pivetta, who lost to the Mets in the 2018 Little League Classic, struck out nine of 5 2/3 innings.
Enrique Hernandez made it 2-1 in the second with an RBI single against Dean Kremer.
Teams from Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and around the world sat just a throw away from the Orioles and Red Sox in the type of seats usually reserved in MLB stadiums for fans with deep pockets.
Graham Vinson, a 12-year-old pitcher/seeker/shortstop, plays for the Little League team in Hagerstown, Indiana, and, yes, he’s a New York Yankees fan. Vinson took a front row seat and said he’s a big baseball fan who likes to watch the games on TV. But when he wants the latest baseball highlights, well, he checks out TikTok, “especially the Savannah Bananas.” But he said there weren’t many friends his age watching MLB – although teammate Kaden Hall loves the Cincinnati Reds – and found there were more national hobbies. electronics for children his age.
“It’s all types of phones and stuff,” Vinson said. “It’s all Xbox and PlayStation and all that.”
That’s one of the reasons MLB started a game like this – to try to stabilize baseball’s declining viewership among today’s kids.
In Williamsport, they watched.
The 2023 game is already fixed: the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies will play the sixth edition of the game on Sunday, August 20. The Phillies lost to the Mets in the 2018 game.
Both teams are absent on Monday.
The Red Sox and Toronto Blues have yet to name starters for Tuesday’s game in Boston.
The Orioles open a three-game series Tuesday at home against the Chicago White Sox. The Orioles send RHP Austin Voth (3-1, 4.86 ERA) to the mound against Chicago RHP Lucas Giolito (9-7, 5.34).
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