SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Sammamish center fielder Jacob Dahlstrom crumpled on the outfield grass. He did not watch Westport, Conn., pinch-runner Christopher Drbal score the winning run Friday at Lamade Stadium.
He did not want to watch. It was too painful. Tears in his eyes, like so many of his teammates, Dahlstrom understood the harsh reality. After taking their city on the greatest run in its Little League history, the Eastlake all-stars were finished.
Sammamish scored 10 fourth-inning runs and delivered a Little League World Series record seven straight hits, but Connecticut upstaged it, overcoming a seven-run deficit and winning, 14-13, in seven innings on Chad Knight’s two-out, two-strike single.
“I can’t even begin to describe how proud I am of those kids,” Sammamish manager Rob Chandler said. “We’re done. It’s over and we’re out of the tournament. I’ll be retired from Little League now and will try and go back to a normal life.”
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Little was normal about Friday’s game.
Sammamish and Connecticut combined for 27 runs and 30 hits, the third-highest combined total in Series history. Sammamish took a 12-5 lead with its 10-run, fourth-inning explosion, but Connecticut, which faces California in Saturday’s U.S. final, staged a furious rally after the Northwest champions were five outs from victory.
Sammamish nearly forced an eighth inning despite Ricky Offenberg’s double putting runners on second and third with one out. Offenberg was called out on runner’s interference a batter later and Drbal was ordered to go back to third after being thrown out at home after the interference occurred and the play was declared dead.
Knight then ripped a 2-2 fastball down the left-field line. Sammamish, which won two straight elimination games, finished 20-3 and third in the country.
“I hurt for the kids. They hurt inside,” Chandler said. “We have a lot of heartbroken kids and what can you say to them? There’s nothing you can say that is going to make them feel better.”
Sammamish was feeling good after erupting in the fourth inning. The first nine batters reached base to start the inning, and eight did so by delivering hits.
The reserves sparked the huge inning, delivering five hits and driving in four runs. Every Sammamish reserve had at least one hit. Adam Carper and Zach Olson were each 2 for 2 in the inning with Olson hitting an RBI double and RBI triple.
“Those guys are excellent hitters,” Chandler said. “They’re hitting machines. That’s what they’ve been doing all year.”
Dylan Matsuoka’s RBI single put Sammamish ahead for the first time, 6-5. Jack Carper, Dalton Chandler and Will Armbruester followed with run-scoring hits that produced four runs.
Chandler (3 for 4, three runs) started on the mound for Sammamish and pitched 41
3 solid innings, striking out eight.
“Dalton Chandler pitched his heart out today,” Rob Chandler said. “He did a heck of a job.”
After he reached the 85-pitch count limit one into the fifth inning, however, Connecticut attacked.
The New England champions produced five straight hits with three homers.
Sammamish put two runners on with one out in the top of the seventh, but Knight started an inning-ending double play, making a nice play on a hard-hit Armbruester grounder.