Other Sports

Virginia's first LLWS appearance in 25 years rests on defense, luck and pitching depth

Virginia's first LLWS appearance in 25 years rests on defense, luck and pitching depth

The last time a Virginia team qualified for a spot at the Little League World Series was 1994. This was also the year Disney released the original Lion King and Forrest Gump made his monumental run around the United States. 

Twenty-five years later, the Loudon South Little League team will be making their run (or hopefully, runs) around the bases. 

It all started back in South Riding, Va., where the team won 16 consecutive games to take the Southeast Region tournament title. Pitcher Justin Lee fell to his knees after the final out of game 16, where Loudoun South dominated Peachtree City, Ga. 12-2, and advanced themselves to the Little League World Series. 

Led by head coach Alan Bowden, this experience had been a dream for both the players and the coach. Bowden's father played in the Little League World Series 65 years ago, he's told reporters, and he told PennLive that now coaching his son in the tournament is a dream.

“I know I talk with my dad about his experience a couple times a year,” Bowden told PennLive. “Just being here and meeting all these international teams and other teams from around the country is really special.”

The team entered their first LLWS game against New England's Barrington Little League team on Friday, August 16th. With tenacity and what appeared to be just sheer coolness, the Southeast regional champions completed the 52nd no-hitter in LLWS history, crushing the Rhode Island team 3-0

Bowden credited the team's defense and depth according to LittleLeague.org.

“We pride ourselves in defense,” he said. “We practice, practice, practice defense and we feel like the real staple of our team is defense.”

Loudoun South didn't stop there. Lee returned to the mound and completed the 53rd no-hitter in LLWS history, striking out six and walking only two. The game ended shortly after as Lee and the team reached the Little League's margin-of-victory rule. 

“I have no words. It’s just, I guess sometimes you get lucky, and this week has been very fortunate for me,” Lee said according to the Washington Post after the victory. “I’ve been getting to meet a lot of cool people. This whole thing, being here is all great, and getting to throw two no-hitters feels amazing.”

The Virginia team's next matchup will be against West champions Hawaii. Central East Maui baseball team most recently completed a 6-0 victory over Elizabeth, N.J. on Monday.

"I'm really really proud of the kids. The way they've executed and the way they've pushed down the media and the big crowd and just gone out and done their job," Bowden told reporters after their last win. "I have told them, you know look around enjoy the moment this is the biggest game of your life but it's still the same game you play back at home ... and they've done a fantastic job of staying focused. And I've never been prouder of a group of kids."

MORE BASEBALL NEWS:

Justin Lee throws no-hitter to lead Loudoun South in dominant Little League World Series win

Justin Lee throws no-hitter to lead Loudoun South in dominant Little League World Series win

The first team from Virginia to make the Little League World Series in 25 years is certainly making the most of its opportunity. Loudoun South threw its second no-hitter in as many games in a dominant 11-0 win over the Midwest Region champion out of Minnesota on Sunday.

Justin Lee enjoyed another dominant start. In the team’s first win on Friday, Lee pitched 2.2 innings in the combined no-hitter. On Sunday, he was able to go the distance. Lee pitched the full four innings with six strikeouts and two walks in 54 pitches.

As dominant as the pitching was, however, the bats were there to match.

Loudoun South did not wait long to take control. A double by Liam Thyen in the first inning brought in three runs giving the team a 3-0 lead they would never relinquish. A five-run second inning further cemented the dominant lead.

The bats were hot all day for Loudoun South who finished with nine total hits in just four innings. Thyien finished the game with five RBIs.

With the win, Loudoun South advances to within one game of the United States Championship. They will play the winner of the West and Mid-Atlantic champs on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Beyond the Scoreboard: Raiders in Vegas updates, plus Loudon United and more

usatsi_13009311.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard: Raiders in Vegas updates, plus Loudon United and more

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

  • Raiders, Allegiant agree on a naming rights deal for Las Vegas Stadium. The Raiders and Allegiant announced an agreement for the naming rights to Las Vegas Stadium, the future home of the Raiders and UNLV Football. Sources said that Allegiant is likely paying between $20-25 million in “cash and in-kind services a year to put its name on the building.” This partnership with the Raiders presents a global branding opportunity for the Las Vegas-based airline company as Allegiant will have its name showcased on the 1.75 million-square-foot, state-of-the-art domed stadium that will also host many world-class major sports and entertainment events. Said Raiders President Marc Badain, “As the hometown airline, Allegiant is the perfect partner to showcase the incredible support we continue to receive from the Southern Nevada community.” Allegiant Stadium will also serve as the home for UNLV football in addition to serving as the site of the Las Vegas Bowl beginning in 2020, as well as the 2020 and 2021 Pac-12 football championship games.
  • Loudoun United christens new Segra Field home. D.C. United last Friday night opened the gates to a new venue for its second-division team in Leesburg, Virginia. USL club Loudoun United “announced a sellout crowd of 5,015” for its draw against the Charlotte Independence at Segra Field, according to the Washington Post. A week ago Saturday, however, the club welcomed numerous local dignitaries and representatives from D.C. United for an official ribbon cutting ceremony. Among the guest speakers at the event were Dave Johnson, longtime television voice of D.C. United, D.C. United CEO and managing general owner Jason Levien, Loudoun United Chief Operations Officer Adam Behnke, and Loudoun County Department of Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer, along with almost every Loudoun County supervisor. Real estate firm JLL secured the deal to manage the venue, its fourth in the D.C. region. The stadium will be joined next year by a new training facility that will be shared by Loudoun United and D.C. United, with the $15 million development set to be completed next summer. 
  • Joe Maddon’s Try Not to Suck Celebrity Golf Classic returns. For the fourth year, Chicago Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon will hold his annual “Try Not to Suck” Celebrity Golf Classic on Monday, August 19 at Bryn Mawr Country Club in Lincolnwood, Illinois. The event benefits Joe and Jaye Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation which provides assistance to at-risk children and families in the areas Joe and Jaye call home including Chicago; Tampa, Florida; Hazleton, Pennsylvania; Mesa, Arizona;  and Southern California. Respect 90 provides children and families opportunities to develop championship attitudes through sports, academics, and community involvement. The total proceeds from four years of the Maddon Celebrity Golf Tournaments (including this year) will approach $1 million dollars. The field includes dozens of former Cubs players, front office staff, and local and national celebrities – and Rick is proud to continue to participate in the event. On Sunday, the longtime Chicago skipper reassured Cubs fans that his level of optimism about returning to the Cubs is “very high” as he enters the final seven weeks of his current five-year deal.