FARGO, N.D. — Bishop Gorman couldn’t finish two games Sunday, and that ended the Titans’ hopes of repeating as American Legion World Series champions.
Gorman lost both games in the final inning, including an 8-7 loss to Rowan County, N.C., in losers’ bracket play at Newman Outdoor Field.
The Titans (63-14) saw their bid to become the first repeat World Series champions since Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, won back-to-back titles in 1973 and ’74, abruptly halted.
"We should have won both games. We pretty much gave both of them away," Gorman second baseman Johnny Field said. "No one really clutched up in big situations and came through in big situations when we needed it."
Field went 4-for-4 in Gorman’s first game Sunday, an 11-8 loss to Midland, Mich., which sent the Titans into the losers’ bracket.
Field added a 1-for-1 performance in the losing effort against Rowan County. He had seven RBIs in the two games.
"A bad day of baseball," Gorman coach Chris Sheff said. "We didn’t execute offensively when we needed to. We made some crucial errors.
"You kind of walk away from this thing saying we didn’t get beat, we beat ourselves. … It’s a little frustrating we didn’t play the type of baseball we’re capable of."
Gorman missed a golden chance to stay alive against Rowan County.
The Titans tied the score at 6 in the bottom of the seventh inning after Field, who hits third in the batting order, drew a bases-loaded walk.
But Rowan Country brought in right-handed pitcher Alex Litaker, and he induced an infield pop-out, a fielder’s choice and a fly ball from Gorman’s No. 4, 5 and 6 hitters to force extra innings.
"We brought him in, and I said, ‘Nothing for you to lose there,’ " Rowan County coach Jim Gantt said of Litaker. "It was all on the guy that was in there previously. I don’t know, he had a confidence in his eyes, and he got it done. That’s the difference in the game. I don’t know how he did it."
Midland knocked Gorman into the losers’ bracket in Sunday’s first game, which had a noon CDT start. The game was delayed three hours after being pushed back a day because of rain.
Midland rallied for five runs in the top of the seventh.
Midland third baseman Eric Dawson looped a three-run triple inside the right-field foul line, capping the winning rally.
"I’m not pumping my fist about it, rather I’m laughing about it because it was more of a ‘Wow I kind of got lucky’ than I put a really good swing on it," Dawson said.
Gorman led 3-0 through three innings, but Midland scored five runs in the fifth and five in the seventh.
"In order to be successful at this level, you got to avoid the big inning, and we gave up two of them, and that’s why we couldn’t win the game," said Sheff, whose team also led 4-0 through three innings against Rowan County.
Gorman led 8-6 through six innings against Midland after Field cracked a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth.
"It’s been a great year. Last year ended up like we wanted to," Field said. "This year, unfortunately, we came up short. But it’s great to get back here."
Gorman played without its regular closer, Jeff Malm. After agreeing in principle to terms Thursday, Malm signed with the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. Baseball America reported Malm received a signing bonus of $680,000, which would be the highest bonus given to any fifth-round draft choice.
"It’s been a great run," Sheff said. "We have a great group of kids, and I think every kid that is on this field can come back next year. Some of these young kids got some good experience this summer."