Georgia wins in walk-off fashion
A closer look at the Peachtree City, Georgia’s 7-6, nine-inning win over Houston, Texas on Monday at Lamade Stadium.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Jansen Kenty’s game-tying home run — Ben Traxler won this epic Series clash with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly that scored Willis Maginnis, Georgia never would have had a chance had Kenty not lived a Little Leaguer’s dream and smashed a game-tying, two-out, two-strike, two-run home run in the sixth inning. Just moments earlier it appeared Georgia’s postseason was all but over, but Tai Peete’s RBI double made it 5-3 and Kenty fought off two two-strike pitches, sending the game-tying shot over the left-center field fence.
TEXAS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Ryan Selvaggi — The talented third baseman put on one last tremendous exhibition in his final Little League game, going 4 for 4 with a home run, triple, two RBIs and three runs. Texas scored all but one of its runs in innings when Selvaggi delivered hits and he finished just a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
GEORIGA PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jansen Kenty — Traxler was outstanding, especially on the mound, but Kenty edges him out, going 2 for 4 with the home run, a double, a walk and two runs. Kenty scored the tying run in the eighth inning and was at his best when Georgia needed him most.
BIG INNING: Georgia ninth — While the sixth inning was amazing as Georgia scored three runs with two outs and nobody on base, the ninth was when it won this fantastic game. Maginnis was hit by a pitch before moving to second on a wild pitch and to third on a one-out fielder’s choice. Traxler, who was brilliant in relief, won the game a batter later, sending a sacrifice fly down the right-field line.
BEST EFFORT: Georgia’s comebacks — There are many professional teams that would have lost hope down 5-2 with two outs and nobody on base in the final inning, let alone a group of 12 year olds. Instead of buckling, Georgia delivered a stirring comeback and delivered moments they and their fans will never forget. Georgia also trailed 4-0 in the fifth inning and 6-5 entering the bottom of the eighth. This is a talented team, but it might be an even tougher team which is quite a compliment.
HOME RUNS: Selvaggi put Texas up, 4-0 in the fifth inning when he slammed a two-out, two-run home run over the right field wall. Selvaggi’s home run was just the second at the Series. Jansen Kenty brought more than 10,000 spectators to their feet in the bottom of the sixth when he slammed a two-out, two-strike, game-tying home run over the left-center field fence. It was a stunning turn of events after Texas had led 5-2 just a few moments earlier. Georgia was down to its last strike three times before Kenty unloaded and tied it.
FLASHING LEATHER: Georgia pitcher Connor Riggs-Soper took a hard grounder off his foot in the first inning, but that did not prevent him from making a nice recovery and throwing out Richie Klosek while helping stifle a potential rally. Texas second baseman Charlie Wylie showed off his fielding prowess in the bottom of the inning, smoothly scooping up a nasty Tai Peete one-hopper and robbing him of a one-out single. Riggs-Soper did it again in the third inning, somehow stopping a wicked Justin Michaelis grounder and nearly going back-handed to rob him of a two-out single. Georgia left fielder Charlie Clem showed off a cannon-like arm in the fourth inning when Andy Guy tried stretching a lead-off single into a double. From the edge of the warning track, Clem rifled a perfect throw to second baseman Willis Maginnis who made the snap tag. Two batters later, Maginnis fielded a grounder, tagged out the lead runner and completed an inning-ending double play. Klosek made a fantastic play at first base in the fifth inning. Georgia had cut the four-run deficit in half and had two runners on when a throw sailed high and took Klosek off the bag. Had Klosek not reached high to field the throw and then had the quick thinking to quickly apply a tag two runs might have scored.
WHAT IT MEANS: Georgia reaches the U.S. Final Four and will try to advance to the losers’ bracket final Tuesday night when it plays Michigan. Texas finishes a historic season with just these two Series losses. This was the first Post Oak Little League team to play at the Series and this run could create future success as well.