SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT — Knox Preston’s head is fine. So is his swing.
A day after being cleared by Little League World Series doctors of any signs of a concussion, Preston played a big role in Nashville’s 10-0 rout of Newark, Del., in an elimination game Monday.
The second baseman singled and scored the first run during a six-run, second-inning rally. He then sealed it with a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth that invoked the tournament’s 10-run mercy rule.
“I was really nervous because, at first the doctor said he was really close to saying I had a concussion,” said Preston, who landed hard on his head after being tripped up running to first base during a 10-2 win over Corpus Christi, Texas, on Saturday. “When he told me I was able to play, I was so happy because I would’ve hated to just watch my team and not be able to contribute at all.”
The Southeast champions had plenty of contributors in avoiding elimination in their second straight game. Zane Denton hit a grand slam in the second inning. Robert Hassell had a double and RBI triple.
And just as important, the shortened game allowed manager Chris Mercado to save his pitching as Nashville is still two wins from having a shot at playing in the U.S. bracket title game.
“That’s how we get out of the loser’s bracket, guys. We have the pitchers to keep them down,” Mercado said. “And once we start hitting, the other team’s going to be in trouble.”
Nashville advanced to face Sammamish, Wash., which hung on for a 6-5 win over Urbandale, Iowa, in the late game Monday.
In International bracket elimination games, Taoyuan, Taiwan, rallied from a 3-0 deficit to pull out a 6-4 win over San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. Taiwan advances to play Aguadulce, Panama today. Panama advanced with a 12-0 win over Ottawa, Ontario.
Against Nashville, Delaware (1-2) threatened with the bases loaded in the third before Joseph Davis struck out looking. Justin Courter had the lone hit, a single, for the Mid-Atlantic champions.
After opening the tournament with a 6-3 win over Iowa, Delaware dropped a 15-3 decision to California. Manager John Ludman had no difficulty believing his players would recover.
“They’ve gone farther than any Newark team. They had a great ride,” Ludman said. “The kids know they accomplished a lot. There were very little expectations for this team. They really have been a Cinderella story.”