The middle of August is home to the Little League World Series. Most kids are going back to school, while a select few get to travel to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the biggest Little League baseball tournament in the world.
As part of the little leaguers’ time in Williamsport, they, along with their families, get to go and watch two MLB teams play in the famous Little League World Series classic at Historic Bowman Field. This year, the two teams on hand to entertain fans were the Chicago Cubs, who are tied for first place in the NL Central, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are the cellar team in the same division. Chicago took this game 7-1, to the tune of three home runs and some timely hitting.
In this game, Jose Quintana took the hill for the Cubbies, while Mitch Keller took the hill for the Bucs. Quintana, who has been on fire recently, had another strong performance, striking out seven batters and only allowing five hits through seven innings of work. Keller, who has struggled a bit since his call-up from Triple-A Indianapolis in May, saw his woes continue, as he lasted only 4.1 innings and gave up six runs on seven hits.
It was all Cubbies from the first inning. To help give Quintana an early lead to work with, trade deadline-day acquisition Nicholas Castellanos clobbered a home run to left-center field. Two innings later, Jason Heyward went oppo taco to extend the Cubs lead to 2-0. The home runs by Castellanos and Heyward were the Cubbies’ first two hits of the game. The power display would not end there, however.
After a two-RBI single by Kyle Schwarber in the fourth inning and a Kris Bryant double in the fifth inning, Anthony Rizzo destroyed a baseball that went off the scoreboard in left-center field. Not even halfway through the game and the Cubs were leading 7-0.
The Pirates were not done, however, as in the bottom of the ninth, Starling Marte hit a solo home run to left field. That would be the only offense that the Pirates got in the game, as they ended up falling to their NL Central rival 7-1.
After the Cubs’ power display, newly-acquired Derek Holland came in and pitched an inning, striking out one batter. Craig Kimbrel, fresh off the injured list, pitched 0.2 innings, striking out two of the three batters he faced (Marte hit his solo shot off Kimbrel). Pedro Strop came in and retired the last batter of the game, and after a hit and a walk, he recorded his 32nd strikeout of the year.
The Cubs might have run away with this game early on, but it was entertaining nonetheless, especially for the little leaguers. Kimbrel provided the highlight of the night for young fans, as the Southwest team from Eastbank, Louisiana imitated Kimbrel’s bat-arm motion. The funnier thing? The Eastbank kids were sitting right behind home plate, clearly within Kimbrel’s range of vision.
Next up for the Cubs are the San Francisco Giants, who they will play after a travel day back to Chicago. For the Pirates, they make the short drive back to PNC Park, as they will host the red-hot Washington Nationals for a four-game series that provides them with a golden opportunity to turn their season around.
And for the Little League World Series? Monday has a full slate of games starting at 11:00 a.m., with the Great Lakes team from Bowling Green, Kentucky takes on the Australian team from Sydney, Austrailia.