The first Virginia team in 25 years to make an appearance in the Little League World Series, the Loudoun South Little League team didn't let their postponed tournament debut rattle them.
After rain and lightning forced Loudoun's first game of the tournament, set for 3 p.m. on Thursday, to be postponed until Friday morning, the Southeast regional champions dominated on the mound and in the batter's box for their 3-0 win over the New England regional champions from Rhode Island.
Justin Lee, Loudoun's ace, set the tone early with 2 2/3 scoreless innings, including two strikeouts. But after Lee threw 35 pitches, Loudoun opted to make the call to the bullpen early in order to keep Lee available for a Sunday start in case the Southeast champions won Friday's matchup. (The Little League World Series allows pitchers who have thrown between 20 and 35 pitches to take the mound again after only one day of rest).
Southpaw Liam Thyen took over on the mound, racking up six strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings. Chase Obstgarten finished off the competition, with 2/3 of an inning of work and one final strikeout, as New England's Owen Pfeffer was tagged out on a dropped third strike.
But Lee, Thyen and Obstgarten's solid work on the bump wouldn't have mattered if not for a smattering of runs in a two-out rally from Loudoun's offense in the bottom of the fifth.
A two-out, two-run long shot to right-center from Brady Yates put the Southeast champs on the board first, as the dugout emptied and players mobbed Yates at home plate.
Three batters later, a Thyen single--the third in a row from Loudoun--drove in the team's third and final run of the contest.
Now, the Southeast regional champs advance to the United States' winners bracket. Their next game is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Sunday and will be broadcast on ESPN. Loudoun South will play the winner of the Midwest v. Great Lakes matchup.
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