Addison Kopack launches a drive to centerfield that fell just short of the fence in Cumberland's last at bat on Friday night.
(Photo by Ernest A. Brown)
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Cumberland manager Dave Belisle and coach Matthew Wright proved they learned from their 2011 Little League World Series experience.
Belisle said the biggest mistake they made that year was not convincing the kids they were every bit as good as the other tournament teams and that this time would be different.
“We belong here!” Belisle told his players in a mound meeting during a crucial situation. “We belong!”
For six innings Friday at Lamade Stadium, Cumberland not only showed they belonged, but heck, they might have been the better team.
And that is what makes it so frustrating.
Cumberland made a costly first-inning error, suffered a baserunning gaffe and stranded seven runners through the first four innings and lost to Pearland, Texas, 6-4.
“The most important thing is they fought right to the very end,” Belisle said. “I’m very proud of the way they played. They did Rhode Island proud and they will continue doing so tomorrow.”
Cumberland outhit Texas, 9-4, and allowed Pearland only one hit through the first five frames. Belisle’s bunch also made an impressive sixth-inning comeback, scoring three times to pull within two, but reliever Landon Donley induced a groundout and a flyout to deep center field, preserving the win.
Cumberland is down but not out. It still can make a world title run but it now has to travel a long road. That begins at 8 p.m. Saturday when it faces Nashville, Tennessee in an elimination game.
“It was a great team effort,” Belisle said. “I truly believed down 6-1 we would make a sixth inning rally and we did. We made some noise and I didn't expect anything less.”
For full story and photos, see Saturday's print edition of The Call.
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