SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Don’t look for Northern and Ohio to play a low-scoring game tonight in the Little League World Series.
Northern manager Randy Morris is certainly not expecting a low-scoring game.
“I would be shocked,” he said. “We’re going to have to hit with them.”
And that could be a tall order when the two teams meet in Volunteer Stadium tonight at 6 in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.
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The Ohio team, which is from Hamilton near Cincinnati, can score runs in bunches. In the district tournament, Ohio lit up one opponent for 37 runs. In seven of their 15 all-star games, the Ohio team has scored more than 15 runs.
In its World Series opening win over New Jersey, Ohio jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
And manager Ken Coomer said the team is hitting better since it got to Williamsport. Jacob Jones had two home runs in the win over New Jersey. Jarod Morrison also hit a homer.
“They are a good hitting team,” Morris said. “They are a big team with a bunch of good-looking kids.”
Morris will start Troy Gilliland, who threw two scoreless innings in Saturday’s 6-2 victory over Hawaii. Gilliland threw 33 pitches in relief of Jacob Pate. Little League pitching rules require Gilliland to have 24 hours rest before returning to the mound. Because he threw fewer than 36 pitches and has had an off day, Gilliland will be available to go the maximum 85 pitches.
Gilliland said working against Hawaii was a good way to get adjusted to the big-time atmosphere that is the Little League World Series.
“I think it will help,” he said. “I got a feel of the mound and the crowd.”
Gilliland, who had a 2.89 ERA in the Southeast Regional, said he is going to take the approach Morris has been preaching, it is just another game.
“I am not going to worry about pitching,” Gilliland said. “I am going to go out there and do what I have been doing. Whatever happens happens.”
Pate, who is not eligible to throw again until Thursday after throwing 86 against Hawaii, is the only Northern pitcher who can’t pitch against Ohio. In addition to Gilliland, Morris could also throw Kobie Buglioli, Blake Hicks and Brandon Pugh.
Buglioli is the team’s regular third baseman, but he said when he is at third he is thinking about how he would pitch the opposing hitters.
“Early in the game, I am taking mental notes on what the hitters are doing,” Buglioli said.
Hicks, the team’s top catcher, is the only one Morris has to be careful about how he uses him.
If Hicks catches more than three innings, he is not eligible to pitch in that game. Pate would catch if Hicks can’t.
Other than starting Gilliland, Morris does not have a set plan on how he will use his pitchers.
“It may take three or more pitchers,” Morris said.
While Northern is in a much better position to advance because it won the opener, Morris tried to put the win over Hawaii in perspective.
“We have not done anything but win one game,” Morris said.
But win against Ohio and the road to Saturday’s United States championship game gets easier.
The winner of the Georgia-Ohio game gets a day off. The loser has to play Hawaii on Tuesday in an elimination game.
“This game is huge,” Morris said.
Notes: Because of rain Sunday in Williamsport, Northern had to scrap plans for a full practice. The team took batting practice in the cages on the Little League compound. … After almost a week of being together, Morris let his team check out of the complex Sunday night to go eat dinner with their parents