The American Little League Majors Twins' eight-run rally in the top of the sixth inning capped off a very impressive inning that lifted the team over the Rangers and into today’s semifinal playoff contest against the heavy favorites in the Yankees.
The Rangers' Ryan Leonesio was the star of the game—until the sixth inning. Leonesio tossed up five innings before being relieved after reaching the 85 pitch mark, but that would turn out to be disastrous for the Rangers.
As soon as Leonesio went out, the Twins bats came alive and they forced the Rangers to use three other pitchers in the same inning that saw eight runs scored and the final ended at 10-5.
“Ryan [Leonesio] is a just one of the best dudes in the league and we took advantage the second they took him out... Once Ryan got out we had a fighting chance,” said Twins head coach Matt Livingston.
“Ryan was at 85 pitches at the time and when he reached the limit so we had to pull him and throw in our relievers to throw strikes, but the Twins had a big inning, but that is baseball, it is what happens,” said Rangers head coach Darin Fuller.
The Rangers got the first run in the bottom of the first and tacked on two more before the start of the fourth inning, when Hayden Feldman struck a two-run triple.
Leonesio was able to keep the Twins away from scoring until the top of the fourth, when back-to-back walks led to multiple pass balls that eventually saw the Twins drive in two runs to cut the lead to 3-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Rangers looked to be walking into the winners circle after getting two more runs to go up 5-2, but the Twins were just getting things started.
Matthew Livingston got the win for the Twins as he tossed up 4 and a 1/3 innings allowing only four runs.
After Leonesio was taken out, the first two hitters were allowed to get on base and that gave Anthony Wegleir an opportunity to make a difference.
Wegleir hit a three-run homer over the left center field wall to tie the game at 5-5 with no outs.
Two pitching changes and five runs later the Twins found themselves up 10-5 after an impressive comeback, taking advantage of the Rangers pitching.
“When we were down in the last inning, just shows we had some fight left in us,” Livingston said. “I asked the team if they were ready to call the season over, and they kind of got some fire, I am not sure if it helped, but they stood up and got into it and Ryan came out and that was the hinge point.”
With the youngest team in league, the Rangers still managed to finish off a great season and make the postseason.
“We are the youngest team, but they have developed a lot this year, they really learned the fundamentals as far as putting the ball in play and making the routine plays. I am very proud of our guys and of the entire team,” Fuller said. “They surpassed my expectations.”
The Twins will play the top seeded Yankees at 1 p.m. today.