The brighter the lights, the bigger the games, the better he plays.
Six nights after throwing a shutout on national television against perenial powerhouse Warner Robins, Ga., in the Southeast Region championship, Brock Myers one-upped himself, throwing four scoreless innings, striking out eight and hitting at two-run home run. This time he did it at the Little League Baseball World Series.
Myers continued his torrid streak Thursday night at Lamade Stadium, allowing just one hit and going 3 for 4 as Goodlettsville, Tenn., blanked Midwest titlist Kearney, Neb., 12-1, in its Series debut. Tennessee earned a spot against West champ Petaluma, Calif., in Sunday's winner's bracket while Nebraska, playing at the Series for the first time, faces New England titlist Fairfield, Conn., in a Saturday elimination game.
"I felt fine," Myers said. "I like being in that position. I like the big crowds."
While Myers has put on a show for a national audience during the last six weeks, it actually is just what Tennessee has grown accustomed to seeing from him. Last night simply was an extension of what he has done all summer.
Myers scored the game's first run in the first inning, then stifled Nebraska until reaching 50 pitches with no outs in the top of the fifth. Tennessee manager Joey Hale pulled him at that point, keeping him eligible for Sunday's game.
"He's pretty consistent. We know what we're going to get from Brock, but we work hard at it," Hale said. "The expecation is that we're going to pitch well because we work so hard at it."
Jacob Rucker pitched the final two innings to clinch the win, recording the game's final out by tagging out Matt Masker trying to score on a wild pitch. Rucker also hit a long three-run home run that highlighted a seven-run sixth inning and turned the game into a rout. Jayson Brown followed Rucker's home run with one of his own and Tennessee finished with four.
The sixth-inning eruption included seven hits, four which went for extra bases. Tennessee finished with 13 hits from 10 different players. It was a true team effort.
"We haven't had an output like that since districts," Hale said. "That was nice to see."
As well as the entire team, which made no errors, played, Myers stood out.
Myers struck out five straight between the second and fourth innings and highlighted his stellar night with a two-run, two-out fifth-inning home run to center field that made it 5-0. He finished just a triple short of hitting for the cycle and scored three runs.
Myers helped his cause in the top of the first, ripping a two-out single. Following Luke Brown's ground-rule double, Cole Carter scored Myers with a RBI single to center field.
Tennessee extended its lead to 3-0 in the third inning as Ryan Lyle crushed a two-run home run over the left-center field fence. Lyle sprinted until he was halfway to second base before finally realizing he had a home run. He emphatically stepped on home as Tennessee took control while playing at the Series for the first time in 25 years.
"It was pretty awesome," Lyle said. "I was just looking fastball and it came inside and I took it to left field."
Nebraska is playing at the Series for the first time in 66 years and did plenty of good things. Zane Schmidt became the only person to deliver a hit off Myers in the past nine innings with a first-inning single. Center fielder Brett Kaiser threw out Brown trying to score in the first inning and Jared Wegner turned a pretty third-inning double play.
Masker nearly homered in the sixth, settling for a hustling two-out triple off the right field wall. Nebraska scored its first run earlier that inning as Schmidt hit a RBI grounder.
Nebraska lost for the first time this summer after going 6-0 at the Midwest Regional tournament and outscoring its previous opponents, 81-3.
"We made most of the plays when we got the chance and that's our game. Our defense is pretty solid," Nebraska manager Brad Wegner said. "They're a little shell-shocked right now, but they'll regroup."