SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT — Make room, David Ortiz. There’s a mini “Big Papi” swinging a big bat for Nashville, Tenn., at the Little League World Series.
With the bases loaded and fans chanting “Big Papi! Big Papi!” Trae McLemore hit a 1-1 pitch over the fence in center to cap Nashville’s 10-2 victory over Corpus Christi, Texas, in an elimination game Saturday. McLemore, who was nicknamed in honor of Ortiz by his parents, finished with two hits and drove in six runs.
And he had his mother, Brenda Gonzalez, in tears as he rounded the bases in the top of the sixth.
“When I hit that grand slam, it was just energy running through my body,” said the 5-foot-11, 209-pound player. “It’s been one of my dreams to come and play in this tournament. Another one was to hit a home run. After that, I looked at my mom, and she was crying.”
Pausing, before breaking into a smile, McLemore added: “And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome.’”
McLemore’s hit was the 46th grand slam in series history and first since Yoshiki Suzuki hit one in 2011, for Hamamatsu City, Japan.
Ben Pickman struck out 10 and allowed three hits over five innings for Nashville (1-1), which stayed in contention in the double-elimination tournament. The Southeast champion opened with a 3-2 loss to Westport, Conn., on Thursday.
It was two-and-done for Corpus Christi. The Southwest champion will conclude the tournament playing Perth, Australia, in a consolation game Monday. Perth was eliminated following a 4-0 loss to San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, earlier in the day.
The one bright moment for Corpus Christi was how Jared Cruz responded after giving up the home run to McLemore. Cruz hit a one-out solo homer to center in the bottom of the sixth to round out the scoring. And it came off McLemore, who relieved Pickman.
“It just shows that these guys didn’t give up,” Corpus Christi manager Randy Ramirez said. “That was a good way to show it, more so for Cruz, because he came back and hit if further.”
IOWA 6, MICHIGAN 5: Urbandale appeared to be coasting to victory in building a 6-0 lead.
Brook Heinen hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning, Carter Troncin hit a solo shot in the fifth. Brady Roberts drove in two runs, including the eventual winner with what appeared to be a mean-nothing two-out single in the sixth.
Garwood, meanwhile pitched a gem. He struck out 10 of the first 15 batters he faced. He also allowed three walks.
The problem came when Garwood had to leave the game in the sixth.
“I was hoping to finish it off with Carter (Troncin), but it didn’t happen that way,” Iowa manager Ball said. “I had confidence in (Augustine) throwing strikes. But with a couple of men on, I knew there was a chance of someone hitting one out. And boom. Close game.”
Maxey finished with two hits for Grosse Pointe. His fifth-inning lead-off double was the team’s first hit of the tournament.
PUERTO RICO 4, AUSTRALIA 0: Pitcher Tommylee Sierra shut out Australia for 5 2-3 innings in keeping San Lorenzo in contention in the international bracket of the tournament.
Sierra struck out 10 for Puerto Rico, which scored three times in the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie.
Maverick Hamilton allowed seven hits for Australia, making its first LLWS appearance
CANADA 4, CZECH REPUBLIC 3: Angus Adams homered to help Ottawa beat Brno 4-3 in an elimination game.
Adams connected in the first inning, and Daniel Stoudek tied it with a home run in the third.
The Canadians regained the lead with a three-run third.
The Czech Republic elected to walk Adams to load the bases with one out in the third, and an error gave Canada a 2-1 advantage. David Legault was then called out trying to score on a wild pitch, but the call was overturned on replay.
Two pitches later, Adams attempted a delayed steal of home. Adams also was called out, but that play was overturned by replay as well, giving Canada a 4-1 lead.