SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — The magic ride turned to dust in a hurry.
But it takes a Little League baseball coach to put disappointment into perspective.
Columbus Northern had just lost 12-5 to Hawaii in the Little League World Series. It was the team’s second loss to the West champions in less than 24 hours.
Two days ago, Columbus looked like a lock to get into the weekend’s United States championship with a shot at the world championship on Sunday.
But all of that changed as Hawaii erased a four-run deficit en route to a seven-run win. Hawaii will play Texas for the U.S. title and the spot in the world championship game.
“A lot of teams would like to be where we are now,” Northern manager Randy Morris said. “Win a couple of games, have a lot of fun and meet a lot of new people.”
Many of the Northern players could not hide the tears as they hugged parents and grandparents on the hill overlooking Lamade Stadium.
The team had won 18 consecutive Little League tournament games before Thursday night’s 7-4 loss to Hawaii that forced Friday’s must-win game.
“Our little run ran out,” Morris said.
Pitcher and first baseman Troy Gilliland put the hurt into words.
“We were up four runs and they came back and beat us 12-5; that’s heartbreaking,” Gilliland said.
When the sixth inning started and his team trailing by seven runs, Morris called his players together.
He went Yogi on them.
“I told them it wasn’t over until it was over,” Morris said.
Five minutes later it was over.
Morris said the players will bounce back quicker than the parents and coaches.
“Kids are kids,” Morris said. “Ten minutes later you will not be able to tell which team won.”