SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PA. - A steady diet of curveballs proved an effective recipe for stifling the hard-hitting Chandler National Little League offense.
Texas pitcher Zane Ancell threw 5 1/3 innings of two-hit baseball and also homered, leading the Southwest champions to a 5-1 Little League World Series win over Chandler Sunday at Volunteer Stadium. Ancell was removed with one out in the sixth inning after reaching the mandatory 85-pitch count limit, but left-hander Taylor Bridges ended a sixthinning threat.
Ancell and Bridges, both left-handers, kept Chandler off-balance all afternoon as the West champions managed just four hits a day after collecting 17 in a 16-6 win over Maryland on Saturday.
“They were throwing breaking ball after breaking ball and our boys didn’t have the plate discipline because I think a lot of them were balls they were chasing and getting behind in the count,” Chandler assistant Chris McCann said. “Our guys are usually very aggressive and they weren’t going after that first-pitch fastball as much as they should have.”
Chandler dropped to 1-1 in pool play but still likely will advance to the U.S. semifinals if it defeats Minnesota in its final pool play game at 5 p.m. Tues- day.
“We plan on doing what we can Tuesday and get back to what we were doing before,” McCann said. “It’s kind of good to have a wakeup call once in a while and it’s nice when you can get away with one and hopefully that’s our only one and our boys will be ready to come back and play hard on Tuesday.”
Ancell took a perfect game into the fourth inning, retiring the first 10 Chandler hitters before Cody Bellinger reached first on an error. Kyle Pechloff hit an infield single two batters later and Bellinger scored on a two-out wild pitch, but Ancell ended the threat by recording the ninth of his 11 strikeouts.
Bellinger greeted Tyler Thorne, who relieved Ancell with one out in the sixth inning, by hitting an infield single. Luke Parrish then doubled off the wall in center field and Chandler suddenly had the tying run on deck with one out.
Bridges, though, replaced Thorne and struck out the next two batters on seven pitches to end the game and Chandler’s comeback hopes.
Bridges was scheduled to start, but Texas manager Ed Thorne decided to go with Ancell right before game time.
“Probably about 10 minutes before game time I switched to Zane. I thought he was throwing better in the warm-ups and I felt his head was more into the game,” Thorne said. “We went with Zane and I’m sure glad we did. He pitched a beauty.”
Bryndan Arredondo provided Ancell all the run support he needed, hitting a two-run, firstinning home run.
Skyler Palermo took the loss, striking out nine batters.
The last time Chandler lost was in the state tournament and it bounced back to win its next three games by a 29-3 margin.
NOTES: Palermo made the defensive play of the game. The third baseman made a diving stop to his left on a hardhit Bridges grounder in the fifth inning. He rose to his feet and fired a perfect throw to first that beat Bridges. …
Sunday’s game was played in a steady light rain, something Chandler is not accustomed to. “We come from the land where it rains 30 days a year so it might have played with their psyche a bit but I don’t want to use the weather as an excuse. We played poorly today,” McCann said.
Little League World Series
When: Through Sunday
Where: South Williamsport, Pa.
Chandler National results: 1-1 (Def. Salisbury, Md., 16-6; Lost to Lubbock, Texas, 5-1)
Upcoming schedule: 5 p.m. Tuesday vs. Coon Rapids, Minn. (ESPN2), final game of pool play.
Texas 5, Chandler 1
Texas 202 010 — 5 6 1
Chandler 000 100 — 1 4 0
Ancell, Thorne, Bridges and Hewett. Palermo, Fretheim, Krum and Woods, Pechloff.
W — Ancell. L — Palermo.
Leading hitters: Texas — Arredondo, 2-3, 2 HR, 3 RBIs; Ancell, 1-2, HR, 2 RBIs. Chandler — Parrish, 1-3, 2B.