SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. â€” The Cumberland American Little League all-stars have made comebacks a summer-long staple.
Now they hope to stage their best comeback yet.
Braydon Salzman, Nick Pratto and Ryo Takada combined on a three-hit shutout and the offense produced up and down the lineup as California blanked Cumberland, 11-0 Friday at Lamade Stadium in Cumberlandâ€™s Little League World Series debut. The West champions, unbeaten this summer, move into Sundayâ€™s winner bracket to meet either Clinton County, Pa. or La Grange, Ken.
PAWTUCKET â€” The PawSox locker room has looked like a bus station this week, with players coming down I-95 from Portland or heading to Boston.
Fridayâ€™s transit report led with the news of third baseman Will Middlebrooksâ€™s promotion to Pawtucket from Portland. Middlebrooks effectively replaces Ryan Lavarnway, who joined Bostonâ€™s lineup on Thursday.
PAWTUCKET â€“ The Pawtucket Red Sox keep finding ways to win games, even as their 24-man playing roster is adjusted seemingly every day according to organizational needs.
On Friday night, Pawtucket gained a split of its four-game series with Columbus as new addition Greg Smith hurled one-run baseball over seven innings during a 7-1 victory. Smith had been released by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last week after compiling a 3-3 mark in 13 games for the Yankees.
As the players and coaches in the Cumberland American camp discovered this week, thereâ€™s nothing little about the Little League World Series.
On the surface, competing in this grand spectacle â€“ how else would you describe an event that includes participants hailing from around the country and the world? â€“ can seem overwhelming. ESPN cameras are practically everywhere, which CALL manager Dave Belisle hinted at earlier this week upon stating, â€śAll of the eyes of the world are on Williamsport.â€ť
PAWTUCKET â€“ Alex Wilson is the latest starting pitching prospect to join the Pawtucket Red Sox. Time will tell if the parent club decides to curb his starting duties and relocate him to the bullpen.
For the past several seasons the Red Sox have openly explored the practice of turning starting pitchers into relievers, the switch in mound assignments more often than not taking place at the Triple-A level. In most instances, the reclassification of guys like Michael Bowden reflects the situation in Boston and whether the hole in the bullpen can be fixed by promoting from within.
PAWTUCKET â€“ On a day in which Ryan Lavarnway was likely inundated with congratulatory messages, his college coach had no problem reaching his former pupil.
â€śHe sounded very matter-of-fact,â€ť Yale head coach baseball John Stuper said via cell phone Thursday, the same day Lavarnway made his major-league debut with the Boston Red Sox. â€śHeâ€™s a pro now and I donâ€™t think this was a surprise to him. If anybodyâ€™s earned it he certainly has â€“ not just through hard work but through actual production.â€ť
PAWTUCKET â€“ For a team that has been almost flawless this season, the Columbus Clippers were anything but on Wednesday night.
The Clippers, the top team record-wise in the International League, committed three costly errors that resulted in four unearned runs. Such gift-wrapping tendencies proved to be difference as the Pawtucket Red Sox remain in first place in the I.L. North for another day after posting a 5-2 win before 7,010 at McCoy Stadium.
Pawtucket stands a game up on second-place Lehigh Valley, which defeated Rochester, 3-1.
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. â€“ Dave Belisle has long been a standout hockey coach at Mount St. Charles.
But for the next few days, heâ€™s just a kid again.
The 14 members of the Cumberland American Little League team have carried Belisle on the ride of his life this summer. This week the ride has reached its final destination, the ultimate destination for every Little Leaguer â€“ the Little League World Series. The Series does not only exist on television to these players and coaches anymore. They are here, they are experiencing it and they are enjoying every moment.
Mike Hazenâ€™s role with the Boston Red Sox may have expanded, but make no mistake: heâ€™s still very much in touch with whatâ€™s moving and shaking down on the farm.
Promoted to vice president of player development prior to the season, a position that involves overseeing the minor-league operation and amateur scouting, Hazen spoke Wednesday about some of the storylines that have crept up over the past 4 Â˝ months as they relate to the Pawtucket Red Sox.
PAWTUCKET â€” McCoy Stadium is always a pretty upbeat place. Itâ€™s a standing rule that Pawtucket Red Sox employees greet customers with smiles on their faces. Club President Mike Tamburroâ€™s optimism and good nature extend all the way down to the most part-time of team employees.
When the PawSox are in first place, a position they have maintained for the past week, then baseball really becomes fun around the local ball park.