Bridge City All-Stars one game away from World Series
The Bridge City Little League All-Stars made it four straight Tuesday defeating Mississippi 6-5 in extra innings to advance to the Southwest Regional finals to be televised on ESPN Thursday at 7 p.m.
The boys from Bridge City, the Texas-East champions, combined with four home runs to end the playoffs for Mississippi. With the playoff round tied 5-5 Chase Shugart smacked the sudden death, game winning home run in the bottom of the 7th inning. It was Shugart’s second home run in the contest and his 11th since the all-star playoffs began.
The Bridge City All-Stars are now one game away from the Little League World Series Aug. 21-22 in Williamsport, Pa. They will face Texas-West after they beat Arkansas 16-1 Tuesday afternoon.
Coach Ronnie Shugart said in a phone interview from Waco Tuesday that besides the winning home run, probably the most exciting play was a 2-run homer by Chase Rutledge (which brought in an already-on-base Blake Pruett).
“There’s nothing better in baseball than a walk-off,” Ronnie Shugart said. “I think the coaches are more excited than the kids.” Parents and team members traveled in a convoy vehicles to Waco last week. If the team goes to Williamsport, Little League International will pay to fly the coaches and players there. Parents must pay their own way, Shugart said.
Of the upcoming game with Bridge City’s counterpart, Texas-West, Shugart added, “That just goes to show you the level of baseball in the state of Texas.”
With the All-Stars off Wednesday, Shugart will attend a series of meetings with Little League and ESPN officials.
To the fans in Bridge City, Shugart said, “I’ve been getting phone calls from people I haven’t talked to in so long. I’m up here watching the whole thing, and I just want to tell everyone to keep pulling for us.”
Texas-East took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the opening inning when Cody Roddy scored on a RBI single by Pruett. Mississippi tied it 1-1 in the top of the second inning and Texas-East exited the frame scoreless.
Mississippi jumped ahead 4-1 in the top of the third but the lead was short lived. Cody Roddy homered for Texas-East followed by Shugart’s first homer of the contest narrowing the gap 4-3.
Bridge City pitcher Jonah Watts shut down Mississippi in the top of the fourth. Corbin Voegeli reached on a base hit but was left stranded in the bottom of the frame.
Watts snuffed the first three batters in the top of the fifth and Texas-East rallied with two points to take 5-4 lead in the bottom of the inning. Pruett doubled and was swept in on Rutledge’s 2-run homer.
Mississippi battled back to tie it up 5-5 in the top of the sixth inning. Watts was relieved by Roddy on the mound to close out the frame. Texas-East failed to score their next time at bat and the game went into extra innings.
Roddy fanned the first three Mississippi batters in the top of the seventh. Then Shugart’s solo home run shot was more than enough as Texas-East was the playoff match 6-5.
Bridge City beat Grand Junction, Colo., Monday, in a game where the outcome made no difference.
Jerry McInnis, past president of the league, said in a phone interview from Waco Tuesday that (as Ronnie Shugart assessed), the parents seem to be more excited than the kids.
“I think the kids were excited about the walk-off run, but mostly they just seem to enjoy getting out there and playing,” McInnis said.
McInnis has been involved with the league since 1977 and played a part in getting the team’s new field in 1978.
“I’d like to tell Bridge City that they have a special group of boys up here,” he said. “And to tune in to ESPN Thursday night and watch us on national TV. Or better yet, join us in Waco because they need all the support they can get. Two years ago, the 10-year-old girls were state champions. And now the boys are state champions with a possible shot at the World Series.”