Lafayette Little League: PARK NEWS: Lafayette and Pearland to Square Off

Monday, August 8
Lafayette and Pearland to Square Off

WACO, Texas — After the pressure the Lafayette Little League All-Stars were under in Friday's first pool play game, tonight's 8:30 showdown with Pearland, Texas, is going to seem like a breeze.

Both teams enter the game at 2-0 in pool play with spots already reserved in bracket play Tuesday. The winner will play the runner-up team from the other pool at 2 p.m. Tuesday and the loser will play the other pool's champion at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Both the semifinal games will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and so will the Thursday championship game. The winner of this Southwest Regional will advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., beginning Aug. 18.

"We're going to try to win it, but we're going to keep our pitching in tact," Lafayette coach Leland Padgett said. "I'm sure Pearland is going to be doing the same thing. The truth is that this game means almost nothing. So we're just going to have fun and count on our sticks."

Joe Battaglia is the expected starter for Lafayette.

"Pearland is a fastball hitting team, so we feel like Joe is a good matchup against them anyway," Padgett said. "His fastball is about 62 to 63, but he's a good offspeed pitcher, so we're going to try to hit them with the knuckle and the cutter and the curve."

Lafayette is in this fortunate position thanks to Friday's dramatic 12-11 roller-coaster win over Midland, Texas. In that game, Lafayette led 8-0 and then 8-1 going into the sixth inning — the final regulation inning in Little League Baseball.

But Midland responded with seven runs in the sixth to force extra innings. Midland then scored three in the eighth inning, only to watch Lafayette respond with four runs in the bottom of the eighth for the win.

"Wins don't get any better than that," Padgett said. "It just kind of got away from us in that (sixth) inning. They just kind of caught fire with the bats and we couldn't do anything about it."

Lafayette's coaching staff simply didn't let their team get down, even after Midland took the 11-8 lead in the eighth.

"Our coaching staff is half-coach and half-cheerleader," Padgett said. "We were going berserk, almost like we had already won the game and the kids took the bait. We were screaming and hollering when they came off the field down by three runs in that last inning. We were screaming that if they can score seven runs to tie us, then we can score four runs and win it."

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