SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Troy Gilliland — a 13-year-old kid — did what two grown men didn’t think was possible.
The Columbus Northern pitcher shut out a powerful hitting Ohio team 6-0 Tuesday in the Little League World Series. On the strength of Gilliland’s right arm, the Columbus all-star team is one win away from the United States championship game.
Northern gets a break today and will watch Hawaii and Ohio play at 4 this afternoon. The winner will meet Northern on Thursday night at 7 on ESPN2. Northern would have to lose two games to that team to not make Saturday’s U.S. championship game.
Gilliland was masterful and drew the praise of his manager Randy Morris and Ohio manager Ken Coomer. Both men did not think Ohio would go scoreless for six innings.
“If I was a betting man, I would have bet on it,” Coomer said when asked about his team not being shut out.
Morris used only one word to describe the pitching performance.
“Wow,” he said.
The Northern manager then took the betting analogy and ran with it.
“I’d (have) lost my house,” Morris said. “We didn’t expect to shut them out.”
Gilliland went the distance, struck out six, did not walk a batter and scattered five hits.
Throw in the false start Monday night when the game was stopped for rain with Northern batting in the bottom of the first, and Gilliland shut out Ohio for seven innings.
He finished two pitches short of the 85-pitch limit and is not eligible to pitch again until Sunday.
If Northern keeps winning, that would be the day they play for the world championship.
Gilliland passed the credit to his offense, which staked him to a 3-0 first-inning lead.
“It’s easier to pitch with a lead,” he said. “I knew they could hit.”
The team he shut out scored 16 runs — eight in the first inning — Saturday in a rout of New Jersey.
“You can’t pitch any better than that,” Morris said.
Chuck Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org