It was 1-1 until the final inning, when the mighty Twins did all they could and forced the Tigers pitching to walk five and allow eight unanswered runs to take the 9-1 victory in the first round of the American Little League Majors playoffs on Thursday.
“These kids have battled all year, basically in the second half because the first half we lost a lot of one run games, and I am proud of them because they have stuck with it and worked hard in practice,” Twins head coach John Locke said. “I am just thrilled to death that they could pull it off after losing twice to them.”
The first and only run of the game for the Tigers came in the bottom of the first inning after Lucas Curtis scored from third on a wild pitch and put the Tigers up 1-0.
“Basically, we told the kids it stings and they are not used to losing too much, but we told them to sleep on it and come back tomorrow and ready to fight,” Tigers head coach Leon Curtis said. “They have been here before.”
The Twins' rally saw life after the Tigers switched pitchers and Willie Burke hit a triple and rounded home on a throwing error by the third basemen.
“Our goal since we have been here before was to preserve pitching; it's not just one game but several games to win the tournament. Our goal was to live to play another game, we preserved our pitching,” Curtis said.
The Twins offense scored seven unanswered runs, nailing the win. Player of the game Joe Romeo walked three times and tossed 5 1/3 innings, gave up one run, and struck out nine to earn the victory for his squad against the first place Tigers.
“Looking at the season, every game has been tough; every team throws their best pitcher at us. We expect it and prepare the kids, Romeo pitched a great game tonight and he was on all night,” Curtis said about the Twins. “We told the kids to be prepared and expect the best from everybody else and hopefully we can do it one more time.”
The Royals were knocked off by the Tigers on Friday, 6-5, in a final inning thriller. The Twins will now face off against the Indians at 6 p.m. today at Julien field. The Tigers will play the loser of today's game between the Twins and Indians on Sunday at 2 p.m. for the possibility of playing in the championship at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“I expect them to be good sportsmen and good teammates above all and leave everything out here, because if they lose they know they gave it their all,” Locke said.