SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Knox Preston’s head turned out to be fine. And so is the Nashville, Tenn., player’s 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, on Tuesday. 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.
Newark manager John Ludman had no difficulty believing his players would be fine after their second lopsided loss.
“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.”
Nashville, by comparison, suddenly finds itself on a roll since a series-opening 3-2 loss to Westport, Conn.
That’s nothing new for a team that’s advanced out of the loser’s bracket in each of the qualifying tournaments to reach South Williamsport, Pa. Nashville won the Southeast title by winning four straight after losing the opener.
As a result, nerves weren’t an issue for Nashville players on Monday.
“I don’t think so,” Denton said. “We’ve been in this same position like four times.”
WASHINGTON 6, IOWA 5
Jacob Dahlstrom left his crutches behind to drive in two runs on four singles to help Sammamish win despite squandering a four-run lead.
Dahlstrom was cleared to play a day after being struck by a line drive on the outside of his right knee in a 9-7 loss to Westport, Conn., on Sunday.
“Last night, I tried to walk on it, and I was feeling pretty bad,” Dahlstrom said following the game. “I tried to walk this morning on it, and I was feeling pretty good.”
Washington manager Rob Chandler’s expectations regarding Dahlstrom’s injury improved, on their way to have the knee examined earlier in the day.
“I saw him on crutches, and I said, ‘Maybe we should walk down the hill,”’ Chandler said. “We walked down and he was fine.”
Dahlstrom drove in Sammamish’s second run in the first inning. He added an RBI single in a two-run sixth to build the lead to 6-2.
Sammamish needed the insurance.
With two out in the Iowa’s final at-bat, Brook Heinen hit a two-run double to the wall in center, and then scored on a wild pitch. Reliever Will Armbruester, however, ended the game by striking out Grant Garwood.
Iowa (1-2) lost for the first time in 10 games in which it has faced elimination this season.
Brady Roberts had two singles and scored once for the Midwest champions.
Washington’s Dylan Matsuoka had two-run single in the third inning.
PANAMA 12, CANADA 0
Jean Mar Sanchez hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs, and Edgardo Rosales and Juan Crisp combined on a one-hitter to help Aguadulce stay alive.
Rosales struck out four in 2 2-3 innings, while Crisp struck out two in 1 1-3 innings of relief.
Panama scored six times in both the second and third innings. Rosales started the scoring with a solo homer before Rafael Eysseric added a two-run triple. Sanchez knocked home a run with a single and Crisp added a two-run single in the second.
Carmelo Cruz had an RBI walk, Jean Cornejo hit a two-run double and Sanchez homered in the third.
Jack Walsh had the lone hit for the Canadians.
Panama bounced back from a 13-0 loss to Mexico a day earlier.
“We talked to the kids last night and this afternoon about just forgetting about that game,” Panama manager Luis Gonzalez said, through interpreter Gilbert Monell. “There is nothing we can do now about the loss to Mexico.”
Shortstop Juan Cornejo was impressed by how Panama responded.
“That is more like we played in the regionals,” Cornejo said, through Monell. “That is the first time we’ve played that well here in Williamsport.”
TAIWAN 6, PUERTO RICO 4
Huang Chao-Wei singled home two runs during a four-run fourth inning, and Lan Huai-Chein doubled and scored in the fifth in the come-from-behind win.
The Asia-Pacific champions had a short turnaround following a 3-2 loss to Japan in the late game Sunday night.
Puerto Rico (1-2) threatened in its final at-bat, scoring once on a two-out, bases-loaded walk to Edgar Baez. But Robert Addarich bounced out to the pitcher to end the game.
Puerto Rico starter Leonardo Lizardi hit four batters into the fourth inning to tie a one-game series record set six times.