Here's one way to grow the Taney Dragons' homefield advantage at the Little League World Series - have Little League mascot Dugout trot out wearing his old Rocky costume.
As if the thousands of fans flooding the seats in Lamade Stadium and the hill above it for Taney's 7-6 victory over Pearland, Texas, Sunday night wasn't enough, how about seeing the classic gold Rocky robe that Dugout occasionally wears around here, all to the chorus of "Gonna' Fly Now?"
The next chance for that would be Wednesday night in the United States semifinals, which is where Taney landed with the win. The Dragons will play Mountain Ridge LL from Las Vegas, which routed Jackie Robinson West LL of Chicago, 13-2, in 5 innings.
Perhaps it was good everyone showed up to show their support. Taney outfielder Zion Spearman said his phone was broken, so he had no idea what others back home were thinking.
Here's a thought - they want to see if Mo'ne Davis can pitch another masterpiece Wednesday night. However, that might be a moot point in the grander scheme. Even if Davis dazzles again - and manager Alex Rice said, "I cannot confirm that, but it is highly likely she throws" on Wednesday - someone else would have to pitch Saturday's United States title game before Davis could return for Sunday's world title game. Taney might even need to beat Vegas again without Davis pitching next Saturday.
But that's getting too far ahead. While Taney is grabbing national headlines, Las Vegas has actually been the most dominant team here. And while the Las Vegas players don't have the support here Taney does, at least pitcher Brennan Holligan's phone works.
Philadelphia’s Tai Shanahan, left center, celebrates his walk-off single with teammate Mo’ne Davis, center rear, and Zion Spearman (25) during the sixth inning against Pearland, Texas at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport on Sunday.
"All my friends from school are texting me," said Holligan. "We're on TV, ESPN. We're stars in Vegas."
Sunday's Vegas victory was even more impressive considering Chicago beat Lynnwood, Wash., 12-2, here to begin when Pierce Jones became a sensation with his 3-home run game.
Sunday was the day for opening-round winners to meet, and Internationally it was Seoul, South Korea rallying past Humacao, P.R., 8-5, in front of visiting countryman and former major league pitcher Chan Ho Park. Also, Tokyo's Kitasuna LL defeated Guadalupe, Mexico, 9-5, with 4 runs in the fifth.
It all sets up today's action in elimination games. Internationally, it's Mexico vs. Perth, Australia, followed by Puerto Rico vs. Maracaibo, Venezuela. For the United States, it's Pearland vs. Lynnwood in the afternoon and Chicago vs. Cumberland, Rhode Island, in prime time.