WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — The manager of the Great Lakes champion made one thing clear Sunday: He and his baseball team wanted another shot at Mountain Ridge.
Their wish has been granted.
The team from Chicago on Thursday night advanced to the U.S. championship game of the Little League World Series, eliminating the Mid-Atlantic champion 6-5 at Lamade Stadium.
The result means two things: Chicago will play Mountain Ridge at 12:30 p.m. PDT on Saturday on ABC-TV for the right to represent the U.S. bracket in the World Series title game against the international champion on Sunday.
It also means Mo’ne Davis is gone from the event.
The pitcher who became an overnight national star was denied a chance to face Mountain Ridge for a second time when her Philadelphia-based team couldn’t rally in the late innings Thursday.
Davis was not eligible to pitch against the Great Lakes after her outing against Mountain Ridge on Wednesday, but her impact on the event and youth baseball nationally was not lost on her manager.
“I knew she was terrific before we got here, and what she just went through and how she handled it all cements what a terrific young lady she is,” Alex Rice said. “Mo’ne will shape her own future. No matter what she decides to do, it will be a great one and she will dictate it.”
Mountain Ridge defeated the Great Lakes 13-2 in four innings Sunday, totaling 13 hits and allowing just two. Mountain Ridge hit five home runs, two by Austin Kryszczuk.
“I just know it’s hard to beat a team twice,” Great Lakes manager Darold Butler said. “We have used that loss as motivation all week. Our kids have been more focused than they have ever been. They are so competitive. They want another shot, and we’re blessed to have another chance to play them. That first game, that wasn’t us. We’re going to be ready.
“We are the two best Little League teams in the country out of, what, over 7,000? That is unreal. I want to jump up and down on this desk right now, but I’m afraid it might not hold me. So I will sit here and stay calm.”
Mountain Ridge players were given Thursday off by manager Ashton Cave and will return to practice today.
MOUNTAIN RIDGE PARADE — The parade is set, as Mountain Ridge players and coaches will be honored upon returning to Las Vegas.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman and the City Council will host the team at 9 a.m. Aug. 30 at City Hall Plaza, 495 S. Main St.
After the ceremony, the team will be paraded down Las Vegas Boulevard to an event sponsored by 98.5 KLUC-FM at Town Square at 10 a.m.
The community is invited to attend all events.
Clark Avenue, between Main and First streets, will be closed to traffic.
RATINGS RECORD — What proved to be Davis’ last pitching performance of the World Series drew record-setting TV viewership.
Her game Wednesday night attracted the largest audience for the event on ESPN. The 8-1 loss to Mountain Ridge earned a 3.1 rating and was watched by an average of nearly 5 million people, up 155 percent from the corresponding game last year.
The previous high for a LLWS game on ESPN was 3.3 million in 2001 for the matchup between Oceanside, Calif., and Danny Almonte’s team from New York. Championship games on ABC have drawn bigger audiences.
Wednesday’s game received a 16.3 rating in Las Vegas and a 14.9 in Philadelphia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.