Confusion, discussion and a little arguing complicated the end of the Pacific All-Star’s game with Rapid City, South Dakota, on Saturday in the Little League World Series.
When everything settled, Pacific had its first victory in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a 7-5 decision in an elimination game at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
The game was decided with a wild finish in bottom of the sixth inning. Rapid City’s Canyon Lake Little League team trailed by two runs and was rallying.
Dylan Richey delivered a two-out, single up the middle with runners at first and second. Bridger Nesbit, who had been on second base, took a wide turn rounding third and fell down halfway to home plate.
Pacific catcher Robley Corsi, III, moved up the third-base line and took the throw from the center fielder, but dropped the ball. Nesbit got up and broke for the plate as Corsi picked up the ball, veering way out of the base path to avoid a tag.
The umpire called Nesbit out for running outside of the base line, ending the inning and Rapid City’s rally. After a review and discussion with Little League officials, the home plate umpire’s call was upheld.
“I actually didn’t even see a whole lot,” Pacific manager Robley Corsi, Jr., said. “I didn’t know if he was that far out (of the base path). I’ve been waiting to see the replay myself. It looked like we had him dead to rights and next thing I know he’s around (the catcher).”
Once Nesbit eluded the tag, Corsi, III, threw the ball to third base to try to get another South Dakota runner out. That’s where the manager’s attention went until a discussion with all four umpires and a review got underway.
“It worked out well for us,” Corsi, Jr. said. “I hate seeing a game end like that. It was kind of a controversial call but it is what it is. It’s baseball.”
Before that point, the game featured four lead changes, with Pacific getting the final one on a two-run home run by Colton Walsh in the top of the fourth inning.
The big hit got the Pacific dugout fired up.
“It’s huge for morale,” Corsi, Jr., said. “It’s one of those things where you’re going back and forth and battling against a great team and you need to have something like that.”
Pacific added another run on an RBI single by Ian Michael in the top of the fifth.
Walsh finished the game with three hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Karsen Tjarneberg, who pitched 22⁄3 scoreless innings in relief to earn the win, helped himself out at the plate with two RBI.
Michael pitched the bottom of the sixth and held on to earn the save.
“Karsen came in and pitched well against a great-hitting team,” Corsi said. “… Every piece of the puzzle just came together. Everybody did something. That’s just how this team works.”
Ben Grant had a two-run single to give the Northwest team an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. But South Dakota came right back with three in the bottom half of the inning.
“That’s exactly why, when we won the coin toss, we wanted to be the (visiting team),” Corsi said. “To try to get out there and get a lead early.”
Tjarneberg’s two-run single in the third inning gave Pacific another brief lead before Canyon Lake again responded with two runs in the bottom of the third.
After suffering its first loss since July in their Little League World Series opener on Thursday, Pacific moves on in the double-elimination tournament to face the loser of Sunday’s game between Texas and Pennsylvania in a loser-out game at noon Monday.
“It’s great to get a win after getting a loss,” Corsi sad. “It’s hard to. This is a nice way to get the train rolling again.”