There’s some fight in these kids.
Pearland West Little League, the squad from Texas, was down but not out on Thursday night, staging an extra-innings rally to earn a spot in the U.S. Championship on Saturday afternoon. The game pits Pearland against Red Land Little League, the same team they squared off against on Wednesday.
It’s the second straight Little League World Series appearance for Pearland and the squad’s second appearance in the U.S. Championship, so you can bet that the guys are ready to fight for a victory. Pearland has been consistently knocking the ball out of the park but they’ll be fighting an uphill battle against a Red Land team that is, for all intents and purposes, the home team.
Here’s what you need to know about the squad:
1. Pearland Beat California With Two Home-Runs in the Eighth Inning on Thursday
It seemed only fitting that Pearland won its spot in the U.S. championship with a home run. After all, the first 12 runs of the game against California were scored on the home run.
It was Caleb Low’s homer, however, that had the biggest impact.
Low hit a two-run bomb in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Pealrand a 9-7 victory over California and earn the squad from the lone star state a chance at a title run. The moment was made even more dramatic after California had taken a 7-6 lead in the top of the inning. Ben Gottfried responded with a hit over the left center field wall to tie it back up before Zachary Mack walked and set up Low’s two-run shot.
2. Some of Texas’ Top Names Are Pearland Fans
The Houston Astros have been big-time supporters of Pearland Little League throughout the Series, frequently taking to social media to add their collective voices to the online cheers:
Even the Astros mascot, Orbit, has gotten in on the Twitter support, likening Pearland’s late-game victory on Thursday to the major league squad:
That’s not all. Pearland also has Oscar-winning support in the form of Texas native Matthew McConaughey. The Academy Award winner added his own rally call on social media after Pearland’s dramatic home run rally:
While the Astros and Academy Award winners are impressive fans, Pearland also has another group of supporters, a handful of men who call themselves “The Old Codgers.” The group has been coming together every morning for coffee for nearly 40 years and they’ve found a brand new thing to talk about; Pearland Little League.
3. Pearland Has Sent Teams to the LLWS Three Times Since 2010
Let’s just say Pearland Little League has been around for awhile.
The organization received its Little League Charter in 1970 and has seen thousands of athletes walk onto its fields. However, in the past five years, Pearland has started to find success on a national scale, earning its first berth to the Little League World Series in 2010. That first Pearland team reached the US Championship in 2010 falling to the squad out of Hawaii.
After three seasons in the Southwest Regional, Pearland finally returned to Williamsport in 2014. The squad faced off against the Philadelphia Team, featuring pitching phenom Mo’Ne Davis, who handed them their first loss in the LLWS. The Series ended for Pearland with a loss to Chicago, the eventual U.S. Champions.
Now, the Texas squad is back in the U.S. Championship, looking to take the next step into Little League history.
4. The Pearland Community Raised Money to Send the Team to Williamsport
The local community has certainly done its part to help make sure Pearland Little League has been competitive in Williamsport. In fact, that same local community did a lot to make sure that the team even got to Williamsport in the first place.
This year, Pearland had just one day between winning the regional round and sought local donations to help fund their travel coasts to Pennsylvania. The community response was immediate and expansive. Not only did single individuals come forward to help pay for travel, hotel and food costs but two local businesses – Pearland’s BW3’s and Killen’s BBQ and Steakhouse – helped raise in excess of $15,000.
Talk about hometown support.
5. Pearland Lost to Pennsylvania Earlier this Week
This is not the first time that Pearland Little League will square off against the team from Pennsylvania. In fact, it’s not even the first time this week the two teams will play on the same baseball diamond.
Pearland dropped a 3-0 decision to Red Land Little Leauge on Wednesday in front of a crowd of over 35,000 fans. Ben Cramer threw 13 strikeouts in that game but Pearland almost staged a comeback, loading the bases before the end of the game.
The biggest issue facing Pearland in the U.S. Championship is the crowd. Red Land is from Pennsylvania and the crowd will be decisively rooting for them. Assistant coach Bret Wagner told The Sentinel:
I think the crowd contributes quite a bit. And the kids are 12, so if you’ve got 30,000 people rooting against you, yeah, that can be daunting.
Little League officials announced on Thursday – two days before the game – that grandstand seats for the U.S. Championship had already been sold out.
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