Australia salvages a win in consolation over Sioux Falls

A closer look at the Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Sydney, Australia consolation game on Tuesday at Lamade Stadium, an 11-7 win by Australia.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Harrison Wheeldon’s triple. With only one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Wheeldon crushed a triple down the left-field line that drove in three runs and gave Australia a three-run lead and helped Australia keep the lead en route to the four-run win. The game featured a handful of leadchanges and looked like it’d be a high-scoring game after South Dakota scored four to open the top of the first and Australia scored three in the bottom half.

SOUTH DAKOTA PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jack Radel. The South Dakota starting pitcher was the only player for the Midwest champions on Tuesday to have multiple hits as he went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and scored a run. His two RBIs came on a single into left-center to drive in teammates Ethan Bruns and Mason Riley.

AUSTRALIA PLAYER OF THE GAME: Pitcher Tom Stancic. Stancic came in to start the second inning and threw four great innings of relief work, only allowing four hits while striking out nine batters and only allowing one extra-base hit during his time on the mound.

BIG INNING: After South Dakota scored two in the top of the fifth inning to take the lead, 7-6, Australia responded immediately in the bottom half of the inning. Two walks and an error loaded the bases with just one out before Harrison Wheeldon came through and crushed a three-RBI triple down the left field line to bring in three runs and put Australia ahead for good after a bit of a back-and-forth affair throughout the game. Stephen Courtney hit an RBI single directly after Wheeldon to bring him in and give Australia a four-run lead. Australia also scored an early run on an error.

BEST EFFORT: Tom Stancic’s relief work. Stancic came in after starter Stephen Courtney gave up four runs to start the game and did his best job to limit South Dakota’s offense through the fifth inning. He scattered nine strikeouts, only allowed four hits, and only gave up multiple runs in an inning in the fifth during that span while Australia and South Dakota flirted with lead changes.

HOME RUNS: There were none.

FLASHING LEATHER: South Dakota’s Marcus Phillips made a stellar play at first base when Stephen Courtney drilled a hard line drive his way. Phillips snagged it like a Major Leaguer with ease and prevented Australia from taking a lead in second inning.

Australia’s second baseman, Liam Padovan, made a great diving stop on a hard grounder and somehow managed to get the throw to first in time to beat the runner for an out in the fourth inning.

WHAT THE ADULTS SAY: South Dakota manager Jeff Riley tried to make sure his kids understood just how special of a season they ended up having, despite an 0-3 appearance at the Little League World Series.

“I was trying to tell them out there, I go ‘if your season started … and we told you your last game would be at Williamsport, win or lose, you’d have been ecstatic.’ Some of them saw that right away and said ‘yeah, you’re right coach.’ It’s good. It’s a tough loss, no one wants to come here and go 0 and 3 and they want to showcase their talents, but it happened. They don’t want to leave. They want to pick up the dirt, they want to throw balls to the kids. That’s what they’re going to remember: interacting with everyone and the fans.”

WHAT THE KIDS SAY: “It was very exciting. Very into it at the start and as it was going on, kind of felt more excited because they were cheering me on. Just had to get in the strikezone,” Australian relief pitcher Tom Stancic said of his nine-strikeout performance.

“It was great to win our first game and because it was our last game as a team, it was a great experience to win together and it doesn’t matter if we win or lose together as a team, it’s great,” Australia’s Harrison Wheeldon said.

WHAT IT MEANS: The win was the first of this Series for Australia, started 0-2. South Dakota ends its trip to South Williamsport by going 0-3.