August 6 - Chase Obstgarten had been hoping for another chance to come through in crunch time.
Loudoun South American’s leadoff man, who felt he let his team down during a big moment in the District 16 Tournament, drove a 3-1 fastball to the right-field fence for a two-run walk-off double to give them a 6-5 win over Peachtree City (GA) in the Little League Southeast Regional semifinals last night in Warner Robins, GA.
“I was thinking about the last time I was in a pressure situation and I didn’t come through,” Obstgarten said of his deciding at-bat. “So far in the tournament, I haven’t gotten too many 2-0 or 3-1 counts, and my dad told me if I did to be sure I swung at a good fastball to hit.”
He did, driving in Noah Culpepper and Matt Coleman to give the Virginia champions their 15th straight victory and a berth in tomorrow’s championship game. They’ll play the winner of Peachtree City and Northwood (S.C.), who meet in the loser’s bracket semifinal this afternoon.
Obstgarten’s game-winner capped a rally that started when Chase Triplett reached on an error and Michael Bowden singled for his second hit of the game. Triplett and Bowden were thrown out at third base on consecutive sacrifice bunt attempts, leaving the game in the hands of Obstgarten.
“Chase hits that rocket to right, and the place went bananas,” Loudoun South American manager Alan Bodwn said. “That right fielder didn’t have a chance. He hit it too hard.”
The sixth-inning comeback was necessary after three inherited runners scored on Obstgarten in the top of the sixth after he had come on in relief of starter Brady Yates with one out and the bases loaded. The three runs turned a 4-2 lead into a 5-4 deficit, but Bowden said his club wasn’t shaken by the moment.
“We had played great and had them right where wanted them, and let them off the hook,” Bowden said. “But the kids didn’t tip their head, they just went back at it.”
As a result, Loudoun South American finds itself one win from clinching a berth to the World Series later this month in Williamsport, PA. Tomorrow’s championship game will be broadcast nationally at 3 p.m. on ESPN.
Notes: Yates earned a no decision, scattering two hits while striking out four and walking four in 5.1 innings … Loudoun South American will have its top two pitchers rested and available tomorrow, with Justin Lee likely to start and left-hander Liam Thyen available in relief … Bowden’s team has played both potential opponents in the tournament and will get another look at them when they attend today’s game. “Both are very good,” he said. “It’s a pressure cooker and it’s very nerve-wracking because anything can happen.” … The tournament’s format is modified double-elimination, so there will be no playback game should Loudoun South American lose tomorrow night … Lee homered for the second straight game, connecting for a solo shot in the first inning. He’s 6-for-7 with three homers and seven RBI in the tournament … Bowden, Obstgarten and Yates each had triples.
Photo of Chase Obstgarten by Krystal Culpepper