Nashville hopes Little League World Series helps in search for new home - NBC Sports

Nashville hopes Little League World Series helps in search for new home
August 20, 2013, 9:30 pm

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - The boys from Nashville, Tenn., are good enough to be among the top four U.S. squads still competing in the Little League World Series, though they are in danger of becoming a team without a field.

The South Nashville team uses a complex that has four fields sitting adjacent to Tusculum Elementary School, but plans are under way to close the 61-year-old school and build a new one on the site where the team plays.

Manager Chris Mercado is hoping Nashville's run of success and some national TV exposure might help save the day.

"I'm hoping so," he said. "We might have saved the league and saved the school."

Mercado supports the school board's plans, saying there is a need for a new school. The concern is over how those plans affect the league.

"We're on their property. We want to stay there as long as we can," Mercado said. "It's going to be them either wanting to build us another place - and they don't have to - or to get out of there. If there's some land or somebody loaded who wants to build a nice facility for us it would be huge."

The Daily Tennessean quoted a school district official saying if a budget passes that includes school funding, construction could begin as early as next year. However, Davette Blalock, a District 27 council member, told the newspaper that officials want the league to have a field, "but we're just not sure where we're going to put them."

Mercado said it was "weird" having the team advance this far yet have an uncertain future.

"Three years ago, when we took over the fields and started the league, it was awful," Mercado said. "We totally redid all the fields and made them really nice.

"It's been a big, long process."

Nashville (2-1) is coming off consecutive lopsided victories. Following a 10-2 win over Corpus Christi, Texas, on Saturday, the Southeast champions enjoyed a 10-0 win over Newark, Del., on Monday.

Nashville played Sammamish, Wash., in an elimination game Tuesday night, with the winner advancing to play one of the U.S. bracket's two other remaining teams - Chula Vista, Calif., and Westport, Conn. - on Thursday.

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NOW WHAT? One of the toughest things to deal with at the Little League World Series for the players is coming to grips once their great ride is over. It can be equally difficult when the ride ends for the adults, as well.

"It's tough," Ottawa, Ontario, manager Mark Keeping said following a 12-0 loss to Aguadulce, Panama, on Monday.

"I've spent three years with these guys. We're like a small family in a sense. It's been an everyday thing all summer, like it was last summer and the summer before that," Keeping said. "You get to see these guys grow up. We made a lot of great memories this summer. I hope we get to make more (memories) together."

One comes Monday when the Canadian team will be honored on the field at a Toronto Blue Jays game.

"The kids are really excited for that," Keeping said.

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GIVING BACK: Taiwan manager Lee Kuo-Chiang said through an interpreter that what he learned in Williamsport, Pa., is how American people love baseball.

"I'll take back the experience to Taiwan and improve the whole baseball environment in Taiwan," Kuo-Chiang said.

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SOAKING IT IN: The Czech Republic team stayed on the field after its 5-3 consolation bracket victory over Grosse Pointe, Mich., on Tuesday to pose for pictures - everyone with their thumbs up - and acknowledge the crowd.

"It's fun for everybody," manager Jan Gregor said about their stay in Williamsport. "Our first time on live TV, so many press, so many TVs, so many signatures. It's like Christmas in summer. ... So many people now respect this team because we beat a U.S. team and played very well."

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STARK REALITY: It's not a fantasy world on the Little League World Series grounds for the players, but it's pretty close.

"The kids have been extremely spoiled here with the food, the accommodations, the free gifts, the equipment," said Grosse Pointe, Mich., manager Tom Mazzola.

"I told them that they'll probably never again play on ESPN, and to enjoy it."

Mazzola said being in Williamsport "makes you feel like a big-league ball player and a big-league manager.

"I know how these kids feel."

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AND THE WINNER IS: The U.S. champion won't be determined until Saturday, but Grosse Pointe, Mich., manager Tom Mazzola has a good feeling the winner will be Chula Vista.

Mazzola's squad dropped a seven-inning, 3-0 decision to Chula Vista in the opening round.

"Their second pitcher is rock-solid; their first is phenomenal," Mazzola said about the West Regional champions. "They have leadership and chemistry. They've played a lot of baseball together."

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AP freelancer Todd Hoover contributed to this story.

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