August 21, 2014

I knew it wasn't going to be easy. Mo'Ne was good but she didn't have her A game. And out of the 13 kids on the Vegas team, 12 of them bat over .300, so Vegas bats got them an early lead. Then they tacked on five insurance runs at the top of the 5th, and though Taney threatened twice with three men on, they never had the hits to bring them home.

A side note: Bad officiating is part of every sport, and despite the frustrations, you just have to suck it up and deal. But the home plate umpire had one of the most baffling and erratic strike zones I've ever seen, and I imagine that had a lot to do with Mo'ne's performance:

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Mo'ne Davis didn't have her best stuff when she and her Philadelphia teammates needed it most, and Las Vegas took advantage.

Dallan Cave and Brennan Holligan hit two-run homers, lefty reliever Austin Kryszczuk got out of two big jams, and Las Vegas beat Philadelphia and its star pitcher 8-1 in the Little League World Series on Wednesday night.

Davis, just the 18th girl to play in the Little League World Series and the only one to win a game on the mound, took the loss.

"Mo'ne didn't have her A game today," Philly manager Alex Rice said. "At this point, we're playing to get to Saturday."

The victory puts Las Vegas in Saturday's U.S. title game and sends Philadelphia into an elimination game on Thursday night against Chicago's Jackie Robinson West in a matchup of inner-city teams. The Great Lakes champion beat Pearland, Texas 6-1 on Tuesday night in an elimination game.

"I think it's terrific," Rice said. "I've been looking forward to playing Chicago since we got here."

Davis, the darling of the sports world with her amazing success and poise, was both masterful and ordinary on a night made short because of pitch-count rules.

She allowed three runs and six hits and struck out six in 2 1-3 innings before leaving after 55 pitches. That makes her eligible to pitch again in the U.S. championship game on Saturday.

Davis played first after her stint on the mound and was switched to right field in the top of the sixth, but she dazzled her opponents more than once on the mound with off-speed deliveries and tantalizing pitches just off the plate.

"She's very crafty," said Kryszczuk, who picked up the victory. "She's a great pitcher. That triple in the first was huge and then she settled down. Great job by us to get this victory."

I just want to say that for the first time in my baseball history, winning is secondary. It has given me such joy to watch this Taney team, and to see the entire city come together to support them. (There were 9,000 more people at the game last night than there were at the Phillies game yesterday.) This city loves this team, and nothing will change that. No matter what happens, there will be a Broad Street parade for our kids.

Tonight, Taney plays Chicago's Jackie Robinson West, another city team noted for its heavy hitters. We're from Philly: We know how to lose -- but we also know how to come back. Which Taney team will we see on the field? Tune in and see!

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