The Pacific All-Stars had a response for everything in the 12 games preceding their Little League World Series opener.
The All-Stars didn’t have an answer for Pierce Jones.
The Jackie Robinson West leadoff hitter went 4-for-4 with three home runs, a triple, four runs scored and four RBI to lead his team from Chicago to a 12-2 victory over Pacific in Thursday’s opening round of the World Series at Howard J. Lamade Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Pacific, which went 6-0 at the regional tournament and had won 12 consecutive games, faces Rapid City, South Dakota, at 11 a.m. Saturday in the double-elimination tournament. Each team is guaranteed at least three games in Williamsport.
“Just turn the page,” Pacific manager Robley Corsi, Jr., said. “This is baseball. You get too caught up over one loss, there’s not going to be a championship for you. We just have to come back and have some fun on Saturday.
“We actually played a great game,” Corsi continued. “They just hit the ball.”
Jones led off the game with a solo home run and added a two-run shot in the third and a solo HR in the fifth as he powered the Great Lakes Regional champion’s offense.
“I’ve never had a game like this,” Jones said in a postgame interview with ESPN. “I just wanted to have a short, quick approach, drive the ball up the middle and have good at-bats.”
“What can you do? We just ran into a team that can flat play,” Corsi said. “They’re a great team. It didn’t matter where the ball was being pitched. They were crushing it. It was just one of those days.”
The Pacific All-Stars, who feature 12- and 13-year old players from Edmonds and Lynnwood, tied the score in the bottom of the first inning with RBI base hits from Tyler Durbin and Tygan Duncan.
Durbin, who led Pacific with a .667 batting average in the Northwest Regional tournament in San Bernardino, Calif., continued a hot hitting streak.
Jackie Robinson West scored three runs in the second inning and exploded for five runs in the third — thanks in part to Jones’ second homer of the day — to pull away. The Illinois team finished with 13 hits and each of its nine starters reached base at least once.
“We wanted to go out there and hit the ball quick,” Jones said, “jump on them early and score runs.”
Duncan and Durbin had the lone hits for Pacific, which struggled against Jackie Robinson West starter Joshua Houston. After giving up two first-inning runs, Houston pitched three scoreless innings, striking out seven batters, and earned the win.
Karsen Tjarneberg almost had a third hit for Pacific after he was initially called safe in fourth inning on a ball hit to the Illinois third baseman. But following a review, Tjarneberg was ruled out.
Despite the loss, Corsi said his team was in high spirits after the game.
“It’s just a positive group of kids,” said Corsi, who talked on the phone while scouting the Nevada-South Dakota game. “They’re not going to go away. Trust me. People haven’t seen the last of us.”