Hail To The Boys of Pearland

Caleb Low's 2-run HR in bottom of 8th gives Texas a 9-7 win over California in the Little League World Series. Thursday night, August 27, 2015.

Caleb Low’s 2-run HR in bottom of 8th gives Texas a 9-7 win over California in the Little League World Series. Thursday night, August 27, 2015.

It literally took them blood, sweat and tears and all of eight innings to do it in Williamsburg, PA  Thursday night, but the Boys of Pearland showed up again and got it done. They rallied for the third time in this hard-fought game from a run scoring deficit in the bottom half of two extra innings to turn a looming 6-7 loss into a 9-7 walk-off win for “Texas” over “California” and a place in Saturday’s United States Little League Championship Game against “Pennsylvania,” a tough team that defeated them earlier.

The winner of Texas vs. Pennsylvania game on Saturday, August 29th, will play the winner of the international club bracket championship game that will be played that same day, a game that features Japan vs. Mexico. The final game will take place on Sunday, August 30th, for the World Little League Championship title.

No matter what happens from here, the Pearland Little Leaguers already have established themselves as capitalized Icons in the Pantheon of Every Sandlot Player’s Fondest Dreams. Look at what they did last night at Lamabe Field:

Comeback # 1

As a kid, did you ever dream that your club fell behind, 3-0, to a great show of cocky force in the top of the first, but that your team came right back in the bottom of the first to get the first three men on base to bring you to the plate so that you could then hit a towering grand slam home run to left and take the lead for your team by 4-3 – and before the other club’s pitcher even could retire a single man?

Zack Mack didn’t dream it. That’s exactly what he did for Pearland, Texas in the their big game last night against Bonita, California. – He simply nailed a sucker fastball as a Grand Slam HR for the first of Pearland’s three recoveries from a deficit score. From 0-3 California after the top of the first – to 4-3 Pearland after the bottom of the first, the scoring pattern in this knock-down, drag-out baseball war was set in motion.

Comeback # 2

California’s Levi Mendez tied the game at 4-4 with a solo HR in the top of the third. In the same inning, Jake Baptista of the Sweetwater Valley club from Bonita crushed a two-run homer to put California back on top, 6-4. It was the third homer of the game for the powerful Far West entry and the fourth HR of the game.

A single by Pearland’s Zack Mack in the bottom of fourth scored his 5th RBI of the game, closing the Texas scoring deficit to 5-6. Marco Guttierez of Pearland then tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the fifth with the second Texas HR of the game.

Pearland had a good chance to end the game in the bottom of the sixth, but the gutsy pitching and fielding of the little California team kept their hopes alive for victory in extra innings.

Comeback # 3

Pearland held again in the top of the seventh, but again failed to put the game away in the bottom of the seventh.

In the top of the eighth, ecstasy broke ground among the California fans as Jake Baptista singled to score the lead run from second base and push the score back to a 7-6 advantage for the little club from Bonita, CA.

Then, here it was: Bottom of the Eighth and the Last Chance for Pearland. – How often did that scenario come up in our backyard/sandlot dreams of a special final inning in which we each would humbly/grandly come to bat as the last hope for our team?

For Pearland, it would turn out to be the delivery of a shared heroic moment.

Trailing 7-6 as the game moved to the last of the eighth inning, Ben Gottfried, the Pearland starter who earlier had maxed out his 85 pitch count, but was nicely relieved by Isaac Garcia, had done a courageous job of pitching for Pearland, now led off and immediately took the edge off the challenge by smashing a HR to deep left field. With his mates mobbing him at the plate, en masse,  Mr. Five RBI-Man, Zack Mack, would be coming to bat. No personal spotlight this time. California pitched around Mack, putting him on base with an unintentional-intentional walk.

And that pass to Mack  brought up little Caleb Low, a guy still looking for his first hit, but armed also with his own personal dreams of a magical moment that he would carry with him through life, were it ever realized.

And was it ever realized this special night in the small town/center-of-the-universe that is Lamabe Field in Williamsport, PA this time of late summer.

Early in the count, little Caleb smashed a rope line drive that just took off on an ascending linear path to left-center field.

Will it be caught? Will be off the wall far enough to score the winning run from first?

Fageddaboudit! ~ That ball is out of here in left center! ~ It’s game-winning walk off two-run homer for Caleb Low of Pearland!

Pearland defeats California, 9-7, winning the third and last rally of the day, and now moving on to a rematch with Pennsylvania on Saturday for the United States LLWS championship.

By now, you’ve either seen or can easily imagine the hysterical team and fan celebration that followed. Those of who followed the game from home were as good as there ourselves, for that matter.

Hat’s off to the kids from California too. They crushed everybody they played this year, except for the two losses they experienced over the whole season – and they both happened here at the LLWS – in losses to Pearland.

No matter what happens from here, none of these kids, from either team, have anything left to prove about their metal, or character, or ability to play and love this game. These wonderful kids gave it their all – and they are the personification of that phrase we sometimes use too lightly without considering its deepest meaning.

“Leave it all on the field!”

There is nothing in life worth doing if it doesn’t get our total effort. And that’s what the boys from Pearland, Texas and Bonita, California showed us last night that they each understand. Some of the California kids, especially the little pitcher who gave up those two last inning homers cried when it was over, but that’s OK. He will get over it when he grows to understand that – of all the millions of kids who play baseball – that he was special enough – by simply being good enough to have been there pitching last night in a Little League game for the ages.

Are you listening, local government leaders, Astros and Skeeters? We should do everything within our ability to honor the Pearland team when they come home. They’ve earned it. And they deserve it. And we have a very special investment in these kids too.

If we want our world to be free of drive bys, smash and grabs, and all of the other everyday insults to civilization that we see growing around us, we had better soon remember that raising kids to care about what they do in the name of unselfish love is the trait that has to survive for everything else we say we value to be possible.

The Boys of Pearland get it. And that’s what already makes them great.

______________________________

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3 Responses to “Hail To The Boys of Pearland”

  1. Jeff aka "Slim" - Katy Combines Says:

    One of the best written articles I’ve ever read. Well done! Well said!
    We are very proud of our boys from Pearland.

  2. Mark W Says:

    A hearty congratulations to those great kids from Pearland. And here’s to their good fortune in the finale against Pennsylvania.

  3. Tom Hunter Says:

    Thanks for the coverage, Bill. I played in the very first little league in Pearland in 1957 and am astonished at how far they’ve come in the last few years. It’s also heartening to hear the ESPN anouncers and others actually pronounced my hometown’s name properly: Pear Land–not pearl-und.

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