Peachtree City American Little League advanced to its first Little League World Series appearance Wednesday.
The team defeated Loudoun South American Little League –– a team from northern Virginia –– 3-0 to advance to the Little League World Series.
“For me, it’s a huge relief,” Peachtree City coach Patrick Gloriod said. “We’ve come in second the past two years. They’re super excited, but they’re such a low key group of kids. They’re still joking around with each other, having fun.”
During the Southeast Regional Tournament in Warner Robins, Peachtree City American went 4-0, defeating South Nashville (Tenn.), Loudoun, McCalla (Ala.) and Loudoun again in the championship. Gloriod believes having seen Virginia’s power on the mound in the first game gave his team an edge in the championship.
“The boys the first game were very timid because they heard how hard Virginia’s pitcher (Chad Yates) threw,” Gloriod said. “They felt like after the first inning of that game (the first game) that they followed the ball out of his hand really well. They weren’t scared in the box. He was rumored to throw 76 miles per hour, they felt like he threw slower.”
In the first game against Virginia, Tai Peete took the mound, pitching all six innings with nine strikeouts. However, Virginia starting pitcher Yates had eight strikeouts, keeping the score tied at 3-3 through two innings. Georgia took the lead in the top of the sixth and held off Virginia to win 4-3.
Peachtree City’s Jansen Kenty had a hit, a walk, and three RBIs in the first game, leading the team in the box. Gloriod said his team’s experience with Yates’ pitching in the first game led to Peachtree City claiming the championship.
“When we came into the championship game, they had a ton of confidence in their at bats,” Gloriod said. “That’s pretty cool that they had a kid throwing that hard from the left side, and they were extremely confident that they would get to him.”
In the Southeast Regional Championship –– the second meeting between Virginia and Georgia in the Southeast Region tournament –– Kenty took the mound, pitching all six innings and recorded 13 strikeouts and 14 first-pitch strikes. The 13-year-old hit an RBI double in the third inning, helping Peachtree City take a 3-0 lead that would be enough to punch Georgia’s ticket to the Little League World Series.
Along with his clutch hitting, Kenty shut out Virginia in the teams’ second meeting, displaying his ability to hit the strike zone at high speeds. According to Gloriod, Both Peete and Kenty helped lead Georgia to two wins over Virginia in much different ways.
“Jansen (Kenty) throws a little harder,” Gloriod said. “and probably has better control and can just pound the strike zone, but Tai (Peete) has a curve ball. Tai is very comfortable throwing that curveball for a strike. Both have very different personalities, but both guys are very special players.”
After claiming the Southeast Regional Championship, Gloriod’s team will travel to Williamsport, Pa., to play the winner of the West Regional at 8 p.m. Aug. 17.
The Little League World Series begins Aug. 16, and the championship is at 3 p.m. Aug. 26.
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