August 3 - Justin Lee struck out nine in 4.2 innings and went 2-for-2 with two RBI to lead Loudoun South American to a 7-1 tournament-opening win yesterday over Wilson City, the North Carolina state champions, at the Little League Southeast Regionals in Georgia.
After allowing a run when a dropped third strike extended the first inning, Lee retired the next eight batters and 10 of the next 11 before handing off to reliever Liam Thyen.
“His last three outings on the mound, he’s been lights out. Just fantastic,” manager Alan Bowden said of Lee, who threw 66 pitches and would be eligible to start on Tuesday in the loser’s bracket semifinal or Wednesday in the championship game. “We’re really happy with how he’s pitching right now.”
Lee, Thyen and Chase Obstgarten combined to scatter two hits for the Virginia state champs, who have won 13 straight since dropping their second game in the District 16 Tournament. Thyen was 1-for-3 with two RBI and Colton Hicks and Michael Bowden also drove in runs. All nine starters had at least one hit.
“Everybody contributes, they really do,” Bowden said. “We knocked the nerves off a little bit in the first few innings. It’s a big stage with a lot going on and a lot of cameras.
“I was proud of the way the kids came out and played.”
The tournament resumes today, with the Northern Virginia club playing the South Carolina champions, Northwood, at 4 p.m. The winner advances to the semifinals on Monday in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 7 p.m., while the loser will play in an elimination game tomorrow and have to win three straight to advance to Wednesday’s final.
Bowden said southpaw Thyen would get the ball tonight after he was limited to 20 pitches in his relief outing yesterday.
“They’re a sound baseball team and we’re going to have to play well to beat them,” Bowden said of Northwood, who beat Tennessee champion Goodlettsville, 9-7, yesterday. “We know a little bit about them. They’re a very crafty team with a lot of kids throwing off-speed stuff. All the teams here are good.”
Photo of Brady Yates by Kim Bowden