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Texas takes out Rhode Island in first round of LLWS, 3-1

WILLIAMSPORT — Both teams were strong on the mound on Thursday, but Southwest was just a little bit stronger at the plate in a victory over New England on Thursday.

Tommy Turner started the game for New England and recorded 14 outs.

New England opened up scoring in the first inning, when an error scored one run for New England.

Southwest pulled away for good with two runs in the third inning. In the third Ryan Selvaggi tripled on a 0-2 count, scoring one run.

Carter Pitts was the winning pitcher for Southwest. He lasted four and a third innings, allowing two hits and one run while striking out six and walking zero.

Ryan threw one and two-thirds innings in relief out of the bullpen. Ryan recorded the last five outs to earn the save for Southwest.

Tommy took the loss for New England. He went four and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs on four hits, striking out seven and walking one.

Sammy Fuentes and Jake Mather each collected one hit to lead New England.

Justin Michaelis went 3-for-3 at the plate to lead Southwest in hits.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Ryan Selvaggi’s triple – Rhode Island led 1-0 and was a strike from escaping the third inning with that lead in tact. Instead, Selvaggi belted a triple into right field that tied the game, 1-1. Selvaggi has blazing speed and his ability to reach third was huge because he scored the go-ahead run a pitch later, coming home on a wild pitch.

TEXAS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Justin Michaelis: The left fielder made his first Little League World Series game one to remember, going 3 for 3 with a double and a run. Michaelis ignited a key sixth-inning rally when hit hit a lead-off double before scoring on an Andy Guy single to put Texas up, 3-1.

RHODE ISLAND PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jake Mather: The Rhode Island third baseman/pitcher celebrated his 13th birthday but playing a strong all-around game in his Series debut. Mather went 1 for 3 with a run, struck out three in 1 1/3 innings pitched and made one of the game’s best plays, turning a fourth-inning double play.

BIG INNING: Texas Sixth-The Southwest champions scored a valuable insurance run in the top of the sixth when Michaelis and Guy delivered their timely hits. That run was huge because it gave Selvaggi some breathing room when he issued a lead-off walk to Tyler Simon in the bottom of the inning. The Texas ace responded by retiring the next three hitters, the final two on strikeouts. Selvaggi has thrown 5 2/3 straight no-hit innings with 11 strikeouts going back to the Southwest championship.

BEST EFFORT: Carter Pitts’ pitching-The Texas starting pitcher was brilliant, throwing 4 1/3 innings of 2-hit baseball and allowing no earned runs. Pitts grew stronger as the game progressed, retiring the last eight batters he faced. Pitts struck six, walked none and threw just 50 pitches, keeping him eligible for Sunday’s game.

FLASHING LEATHER: Ethan Goldstein made it to first for a one-out, third-inning single, but Rhode Island shortstop Tyler Simon made a fantastic stop, preventing the ball from going into left field. Simon nearly made it the best play of the first day, making a rocket throw to first, but Goldstein beat it by a few steps. Texas pitcher Carter Pitts helped his own cause in the bottom of the third, knocking down a hard-hit Tyler Simon grounder and retiring him for the first out. Rhode Island third baseman Jake Mather made a highlight-reel play in the fourth, going up high to snare an Andy Guy line drive that looked like a sure single. He then doubled the lead runner off first.

WHAT THE ADULTS SAY: “I told them this Southwest team is one of the better teams here and we’re a few mistakes and a couple hits away from winning that game so there’s no reason to be tight,” Rhode Island manager Lou Simon said. “We just have to keep battling, win on Saturday and see what we can do from there.”

WHAT THE KIDS SAY: “I just kind of thought of it as a regular game,” Pitts said. “Obviously, it’s not so I was pretty excited when my coach told me I was going to get the start.”

WHAT IT MEANS: Texas advances to Sunday’s winner’s bracket semifinals and will play New York. Rhode Island will be play Iowa in an elimination game Saturday at Lamade Stadium.

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