On a night the Williamsport Crosscutters honored the first team to qualify for the Little League World Series from Uganda, Africa, Tyler Greene showed the wide-eyed Little Leaguers what a professional player is capable of doing.
Greene sparked a three-run rally with a home run to open the third and singled as part of a two-run fifth, helping Williamsport to a 5-4 win over State College. The win gives the Cutters a two-game winning streak after dropping three consecutive games to open their six-game homestead.
"Greene hitting at the bottom of the order is huge for us," Williamsport manager Andy Tracy said. "There is something in there if we can get that fire in his belly."
After fouling off the first pitch of his at-bat, Greene launched a line drive shot over the leftfield fence. There was little question after hearing the contact and watching the left fielder barely make a turn for the fence.
Roman Quinn took full advantage of the momentum, connecting with a single and moving to third after stealing second and reaching third on a balk. Quinn has converted his last three attempts, with two leading to Williamsport runs.
Kyle Hoppy, after the balk to send Quinn to third, reached first by drawing a five-pitch walk. Cameron Perkins, arguably the Cutters' hottest hitter since the break, then hit into a fielder's choice that stuck Quinn in a rundown between third and home. Quinn was eventually tagged out after Hoppy and Perkins advanced to second and third. Both runners eventually scored when Chris Serritella, who has posted six hits in three games, singled both runners home.
With the offense now providing run support, Manaure Martinez, who retired five consecutive batters through the third and fourth innings, manned a charge by the Cutters pitching staff. Martinez gave up three runs (all earned) in five innings of work, and managed to strike out four, earning his first win of the season.
Andrew Aizenstatd picked up the save, combining with Matthew Sisto to retire the Spikes in order over the eighth and ninth innings.
"They pitched to contact," Tracy said. "We have them back there because they can throw strikes, and if they're going to get beat it's going to be through hits. We can all handle that more than walking guys."
The Spikes offense started to move in the fifth when Yhonathan Barrios opened the inning with a single. Jared Lakind and Jodaneli Carvajal continued the trend as both singled to score Barrios and cut into Williamsport's 3-0 lead.
Alex Fuselier added the team's fourth single of the inning after Martinez was able to get Tyler Gaffney looking at a third strike. Jacob Stallings then connected with another single to tie the score before a groundout to short ended the rally.
The Cutters responded quickly, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"The team can learn more playing in a game like this than they can from a 7-0 win," Tracy said. "Just playing under the pressure of a tight game and learning what it's like will help. Some of the guys went 0 for 4, but played great defense and that's what you have to do in this game."
Greene opened the fifth with a single to left field, but was caught stealing second two pitches into Roman Quinn's at-bat.
Quinn, who went 1 for 1 with a single, but managed to reach on all four plate appearances, getting hit twice and walking once, put himself into scoring position with his second stolen base. He later scored when Perkins beat out an infield single.
"I was just trying to get my pitches to hit," Quinn said. "I did get my pitches, but I was being patient at the plate."
Perkins capped the scoring when Serritella and Larry Greene Jr. connected on back-to-back singles.