Four days ago, Lorenzo Butler stood alone inside Lamade Stadium. From the top row in the right field bleachers he gazed out at an empty field, which has produced countless memorable moments over the years.
And now Butler owns one of those.
Four days after being alone in that stadium, Butler played in front of 24,125 fans Saturday and gave them a performance they never will forget. The 12-year-old Goodlettsville, Tenn., second baseman blasted three straight three-run home runs and helped lead his team to a dramatic, 24-16, seven-inning win over Petaluma, Calif.
Butler broke the Little League Baseball World Series record with nine RBIs in one game and became just the sixth player in 66 years to hit three home runs in a game. Tennessee needed every one of those home runs and RBIs, too, as West Region champ California scored 10 sixth-inning runs.
"He had a good game," California manager Eric Smith said. "I guess we didn't expect him to hit three, three-run homers, but we knew he could hit."
Everyone who follows Southeast Region champ Goodlettsville baseball knows that, too. Butler is a big reason his team reached the Little League World Series in its only its second year of existence.
Ironically, Butler entered Saturday's game with no RBIs in three Series games. That all changed in the third inning when he took an 0-2 fastball the opposite way and blasted it onto the right field hill, making it 8-1. The two-strike power hitting became a theme as Butler fought back from a 1-2 count his next at-bat and launched a full-count fastball over the center-field fence, putting Tennessee up, 12-5.
Two innings later, Butler took his place at the top of the Series single-game RBI chart and again he did it with two strikes. This time, the versatile infielder went back to right field making it 15-5.
Three swings, three home runs, nine RBIs and history. Eat your heart out, Reggie Jackson.
"When we practice we split them into teams and let them play against each other and just about every at-bat he drives it out of the park and the (team) uncle said, 'if he could just take that to the game,'" Tennessee manager Joey Hale said. "So I went down to him (the uncle) the first time and said, 'he brought it to the game,' so it was fun to see him hit like that in a game."
Those who witnessed Butler's home run prowess Saturday might have overlooked another part of his game. As strong as he is with the bat, Butler is just as outstanding in the field. The converted shortstop has made a series of good plays at second base and is a weapon on right side of the infield.
In the third inning, Butler made one of the best plays at this year's Series. Cole Tomei hit a rocket of a grounder toward right field. It looked like an easy single, but Butler made a fully-extended diving stop on the right-field grass, rolled and, from his back, made a good throw to first.
"Once he hit it I didn't think I could have it at first," Butler said. "Then I just went over there and jumped for it. I'm glad I had it."
At that time, Tennessee led 8-1 so some might have forgotten how big that play was. California scored four runs that inning after Butler made the spectacular stop.
And the way the game turned out, one run would have been enough to end Tennessee's national championship dreams.
"He's done that all the time. His range is just phenomenal," Hale said. "Their coach jokingly said you might as well take the first baseman off the field because you don't need him. He can cover all of it."
Looking back, Butler being alone at Lamade Stadium Wednesday might have been a sign. The young man who was by himself now is all alone. The greatest single-game performance in Little League World Series history is all his.