Michaelis helps propel Texas to win

A closer look at the Houston, Texas’ 3-1 win over Coventry, Rhode Island, Thursday at Lamade Stadium Stadium.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Ryan Selvaggi’s triple — Rhode Island led 1-0 and was a strike from escaping the third inning with that lead in tact. Instead, Selvaggi belted a triple into right field that tied the game, 1-1. Selvaggi has blazing speed and his ability to reach third was huge because he scored the go-ahead run a pitch later, coming home on a wild pitch.

TEXAS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Justin Michaelis — The left fielder made his first Little League World Series game one to remember, going 3 for 3 with a double and a run. Michaelis ignited a key sixth-inning rally when hit hit a lead-off double before scoring on an Andy Guy single to put Texas up, 3-1.

RHODE ISLAND PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jake Mather — The Rhode Island third baseman and pitcher celebrated his 13th birthday by playing a strong all-around game in his Series debut. Mather went 1 for 3 with a run, struck out three in 1 1/3 innings pitched and made one of the game’s best plays, turning a fourth-inning double play.

BIG INNING: Texas sixth — The Southwest champions scored a valuable insurance run in the top of the sixth when Michaelis and Guy delivered their timely hits. That run was huge because it gave Selvaggi some breathing room when he issued a lead-off walk to Tyler Simon in the bottom of the inning. The Texas ace responded by retiring the next three hitters, the final two on strikeouts. Selvaggi has thrown 5 2/3 straight no-hit innings with 11 strikeouts going back to the Southwest championship.

BEST EFFORT: Carter Pitts’ pitching — The Texas starting pitcher was brilliant, throwing 4 1/3 innings of two-hit baseball and allowing no earned runs. Pitts grew stronger as the game progressed, retiring the last eight batters he faced. Pitts struck six, walked none and threw just 50 pitches, keeping him eligible for Sunday’s game.

FLASHING LEATHER: Ethan Goldstein made it to first for a one-out, third-inning single, but Rhode Island shortstop Tyler Simon made a fantastic stop, preventing the ball from going into left field. Simon nearly made it the best play of the first day, making a rocket throw to first, but Goldstein beat it by a few steps. Texas pitcher Carter Pitts helped his own cause in the bottom of the third, knocking down a hard-hit Tyler Simon grounder and retiring him for the first out. Rhode Island third baseman Jake Mather made a highlight-reel play in the fourth, going up high to snare an Andy Guy line drive that looked like a sure single. He then doubled the lead runner off first.

WHAT THE ADULTS SAY: “I told them this Southwest team is one of the better teams here and we’re a few mistakes and a couple hits away from winning that game so there’s no reason to be tight,” Rhode Island manager Lou Simon said. “We just have to keep battling, win on Saturday and see what we can do from there.”

WHAT THE KIDS SAY: “I just kind of thought of it as a regular game,” Pitts said. “Obviously, it’s not so I was pretty excited when my coach told me I was going to get the start.”

WHAT IT MEANS: Texas advances to Sunday’s winners’ bracket semifinals and will play the Mid-Atlantic regional champions from New York.

Rhode Island, the New England regional champions, will play Iowa, the Midwest regional champions, in an elimination game Saturday at Lamade Stadium.

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