August 18 - Justin Lee kept Loudoun South American’s hitless streak alive and Liam Thyen drove in five runs as the Southeast Region champions cruised to an 11-0 win over Coon Rapids, MN in front of a crowd of 15,447 earlier today at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.
Thyen hit a three-run double to get things started in the first inning, and Chase Obstgarten and Colton Hicks had RBI doubles during a five-run second to put the game away as Loudoun South American won its 18th straight game and advanced to the United States bracket semifinals on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Lee looked sharp despite some back tightness and overpowered the Midwest Region champion’s lineup. He flashed a fastball that had some added velocity from his outing on Friday to go along with a dominant curveball. The right-hander struck out six, walked two and will be available once again on Wednesday as he entered the final batter under the 50-pitch threshold to be able to come back on two days of rest.
“He was mixing up his speeds and he was throwing harder today than he was the other day,” said Loudoun South American manager Alan Bowden, who was assured by Lee before the game that the tightness wouldn’t affect him. “We said, ‘Are you sure? Because we’ve got other kids who can throw and we want you to be healthy out there’. He said, ‘I’ll be fine, I’m just a little tight and I’m going to work through it’. We were watching him in the first inning to make sure.”
Lee’s performance comes 48 hours after he went 2.2 innings and combined with Thyen and Obstgarten on a no-hitter in a 3-0 win over Barrington, R.I., the Northeast Region champions. He’s posted a 1.15 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 31.1 innings during the South Riding team’s run to this point.
“This week has been very fortunate for me,” Lee said. “Being here’s all great and throwing two no-hitters, being combined in one, it feels amazing.”
Added Bowden: “He had really good command of his curveball today, and depending on where we were in the lineup, we used it quite a bit and it worked really well. He was also spotting his pitches very well, he was hitting that outside corner with the curveball and the fastball.”
Obstgarten finished 2-for-2 with the RBI double and Hicks was 2-for-3 with three RBI. Loudoun South American’s first five batters - Obstgarten, Brady Yates, Lee, Hicks and Thyen - went a combined 7-for-9 with three walks and 10 RBI.
Despite the back-to-back no-hit shutouts and long winning streak, Thyen said the team wasn’t looking past Wednesday’s game as it attempts to become the first team from Virginia to advance to the U.S. final since Richmond’s Tuckahoe in 1976. That was the first year the Little League World Series had the U.S. and international teams on different sides of the bracket.
“We take every game one step at a time and we don’t ever look ahead,” he said. “In this tournament, every single team is good and we don’t know if the team could be better than us. We always focus on that first game, the first inning and see what happens.”
Notable: Chase Triplett had a pinch-hit RBI single in the second … Loudoun South American pitchers haven’t allowed a run in 14 innings, dating to when Peachtree City, GA scored its lone two runs in a 12-2 win in the regional final … Lee was 1-for-2 with a walk. Since the beginning of the regional tournament, he has reached in 18 of 21 plate appearances, going 11-for-14 with seven walks over those six games … Loudoun South American has posted shutouts in nine of its 19 wins.
Quotable: “I’m really, really proud of the kids, the way they’ve executed … I have told them, ‘Look around, enjoy the moment and this is the biggest game of our life. But it’s still on the same field as you play on back at home at Lions Field. So look around, enjoy it, but when the first pitch is thrown, let’s get down to business’. And they’ve done a fantastic job of staying focused.” - Loudoun South American manager Alan Bowden
Next: Loudoun South American will play the winner of Elizabeth, N.J. and Wailuku, HI on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The winner of that game advances to the U.S. championship game on Saturday, with the World Series championship game on Sunday.
Photos of Justin Lee, left, and Liam Thyen, right, by Joey Kamide