In the major division, the Pittsburg Pirates remained undefeated (4-0) with a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox, keyed by a screaming down-the-line double by Nolan Smith in the bottom of the fifth.
Smith’s RBI double plated two runners, and he eventually came in on a wild pitch for the difference-maker.
For some reason, the Pirates started sluggishly but finished strongly when the game was hangin in the balance.
Smith also closed the game, shutting out the White Sox in the top of the sixth to preserve the nail-biting win.
“We just hung together and put a rally together,” Coach Mark Smith said.
Although it’s still early, the Pirates appear to be serious contenders for a title.
“We’re one of probably four teams that look to have a pretty good shot,” Smith said.
La Verne Little League fans should probably take Smith’s evaluation at face value. He roamed Major League Baseball outfields for eight years (1994-2003), so he’s a good judge of talent and what it takes to rise to the top. He played for the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Montreal Expos, Milwaukee Brewers and the Florida Marlins.
He was born in Pasadena, grew up in Arcadia and played his college ball at the University of Southern California
He moved to La Verne on the advice of his brother in 2000 while he was still playing in the pros.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “Man, we love this city.”
With his four boys, ranging in ages from 12 to 4, the senior Smith will likely be in the dugout for many more come-from-behind victories.
Braves Take Nightcap, 8-7
Saturday also showcased a great nightcap featuring the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, with the Braves prevailing 8-7.
The Braves came out swinging early, paced by a three-run homer from Clayton Roland in the top of the first. He would finish the evening with 4 RBIs. The Cardinals answered in the bottom half with a two-run blast from Morgan Smith.
The Braves pushed their lead to 7-4 in the top of the fourth, with the biggest blow coming from a surprise 2 RBI bunt from Anthony Cedeno. Again, the Cardinals responded with three runs in the bottom frame, spearheaded by Tyler Holley’s two-run double.
Entering the sixth inning, the Braves clung to an 8-7 lead. Taking the hill, the Cardinals’ Sean Shibisaki kept the Braves from scoring in the top of the frame, which meant the Cardinals sat in the catbird’s seat, needing one run to tie and two to win.
But despite three singles by Shibisaki, Lucas Szabo and Ethan Borchert to load the bases in the bottom of the sixth, the Cardinals stranded all three runners, losing a heartbreaker.
Braves Manager Hector Guerrero liked the way his team hung in and met the challenge each time the Cardinals appeared ready to take the lead.
“I believe in you guys,” Guerrero told his team seconds after the win. “You guys fought hard from the moment you stepped on the field. You beat a tough team over there. I loved your approach.
“Every week we’re getting better.”