An electrical storm put a charge into the bats of the Coquitlam All-Stars representing Canada at the Little League World Series, as they beat Italy 10-0 Saturday in their second-round game that was shortened to four innings by the mercy rule.
The teams were tied 0-0 in the top of the second inning when lightning and thunder in the Williamsport, Penn., area sent them to the safety of the dressing rooms for more than an hour.
When they returned, Italy had a new pitcher on the mound and Canada, which was shutout in its first game on Friday, had new life in its bats.
Italian manager Francesco Lamanuzzi said the long delay forced him to switch out his team’s hard-throwing starter, Elia Zaccarini, for Alex Giovanardi.
“The weather was fighting us,” Lamanuzzi said of his decision to relieve Zaccarini, who had pitched himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first inning and struck out the first batter he faced prior to the weather delay. “The situation didn’t work for us.”
With Coquitlam’s Piero Leon-Carney on first base from a walk he attained prior to the storms, Tory Hutchinson advanced him to scoring position on a sacrifice back to Giovanardi. That’s when Coquitlam manager Bruce Dowart made a decision to substitute a special pinch runner, Tai Freeman, for his starting pitcher on base.
Freeman scooted to third on a passed ball when Giovanardi walked Brady Dorwart, then scored Canada’s first run on a wild pitch that also advanced Dorwart to second.
The next two Coquitlam batters walked, loading the bases for slugger Matthew Shanley who stroked a double down the left field line to clear the bases and put Canada up 4-0. Shanley also eventually scored on a single by Kainoah Brankovic before Italy was able to get out of the inning.
Coquitlam scored five more runs in the top of the fourth inning, and when Italy was unable to get a runner across the plate in its half of the frame, the mercy rule was invoked.
Coquitlam manager Bruce Dorwart said his team was a lot more relaxed in their second game on the big stage of the Little League World Series.
“I could just feel it in their warmup,” he said, adding the win fulfills the team’s goal of winning at least one game.
Canada will play its third-round game Monday against the winner of Sunday’s game between Curacao and South Korea. And while the Little Leaguers from Coquitlam face the daunting prospect of having to win all their games to stay alive in the tournament, Dorwart said anything is possible.
“We’ve used this ‘we believe’ mantra all summer, who knows what will happen,” he said.