UPDATED TUESDAY, Aug. 21, 3:45 p.m. — All games scheduled for today have been postponed until tomorrow because of rainy weather today. Peachtree City will play tomorrow at 3 p.m.
WILLIAMSPORT, PA — In the bottom of the fifth inning Peachtree City Little League found itself trailing by four runs when manager Kyle Ryan realized he had made a mistake with his substitutions.
Above, Peachtree City’s Wills Maginnis jumps up from home after scoring the game-winning run of a Little League World Series game against the Southwest. Photo/Brett R. Crossley.
In Little League Baseball teams have to play every player and make sure they get an at bat. In all the shuffle of being in their second elimination game, Ryan simply forgot to get one of his kids an at bat. He knew he would be forced to pinch-hit for one the top three hitters in his order.
Despite the game hanging in the balance, Ryan approached each player and received a surprising answer from one. Jansen Kenty hit a double and walked earlier in the game, but elected to be the one to sit out the fifth inning at bat.
The move was way beyond the maturity level of most 12-year-olds, but Kenty’s decision was paid back in full during the next inning when he hit a two-run home run to tie the game. Once in extra innings, Peachtree City scored in the eighth to extend the game before Ben Traxler, who entered to pitch in the sixth to help his team stay in the game, drove a ball to right field for a 7-6 walk-off win.
“I was a little bit nervous going into pitch,” Traxler said. “When I came up I was happy to get another chance to walk-off. When I did I was so excited. It was just really awesome. It was one of my only walk-offs.”
It was the second extra inning game Peachtree City has played. It opened the tournament with an 11-inning marathon against the West, falling on a walk-off, two-run home run as the clocks neared midnight.
It was a completely different story in Monday’s contest as Peachtree City scored five runs over the final two innings to match the Southwest and send the game into extra innings.
In a game defined by big plays and clutch moments it was Ryan who told his kids he needed to be picked up after the substitution mistake. Just like the players would for any of their teammates, they responded to their coach.
“I told the kids they needed to pick me up,” Ryan said. “Having been put in that situation I went right to Jansen and told him. Once he hit the home run I was very confident we were going to win. It was just a matter of time.”
Jansen came up in the sixth inning after Bo Walker hit a single and Tai Peete connected with a double. Kenty walked to the plate without much emotion showing, but quickly turned the fortunes of Peachtree City around with a towering shot to left field.
“When I found out I had to substitute kids at the beginning of the order I went to Tai and Jansen and asked them what they wanted to do,” Ryan said. “Jansen was cool as hell. He didn’t give me a look. He didn’t react. He took his batting gloves and helmet off and set them down. He could have made that much more difficult on me, but it really shows a lot of maturity on his part.”
Once Kenty hit the home run Peete, who was on third, came home, took off his helmet and yelled to the fans as he turned around to celebrate.
“I was really motivated and ready to step up and do my job at that time,” Kenty said. “I haven’t been hitting good at the beginning of the tournament.”
In the eighth Peete hit a single and scored on a fielder’s choice to match the Southwest, which scored a run in the top of the inning after a sacrifice fly from Andy Guy.
Peete had another big game for Peachtree City. Along with scoring runs in the sixth and eighth innings, Peete hit a double to bring a run home. He also hit a single in the eight and advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring on a fielder’s choice.
“He’s a leader for sure,” Ryan said. “He’s really positive and never stops talking. He’s just unbelievable. He was the one running around screaming that Jansen was going to tie it up. It gives all the kids that positive vide that gets everybody going.”
Traxler opened the top of the ninth with a groundout before giving up a single to Ethan Goldstein. With the game-winning run on first, Traxler dug deep to record the final two outs with strikeouts.
Wills Maginnis reached to open the bottom of the ninth when he took a 2-2 fastball in the back. Maginnis showed no signs of being hurt when he moved to second on a passed ball. A grounder advanced him to third before Traxler connected with a sacrifice fly to right field to end the game.
“When I got hit I knew we were going to find a way to win,” Maginnis said. “Then the passed ball happened and I got to second with no outs. I got to third on a ground ball and I knew the game was over.” — Reported by BRETT R. CROSSLEY, Special to The Citizen
Peachtree City 7, Southwest 6
SE 011 021 010—6 9 3
PC 000 023 011—7 10 3
Kaleb Rook, Ethan Goldstein (6), Richie Klosek (8), and Andy Guy. Connor Riggs-Soper, Ben Traxler (5), and Chase Fralick.
WP: Traxler. LP: Klosek.
Top Southwest hitters: Ryan Selvaggi 4-4, 3B, HR, 3 runs, RBI. Top Peachtree City hitters: Tai Peete 2-4, 2B, 2 runs, RBI; Jansen Kenty 2-2, HR, 2B, 2 runs, 2 RBI.
Records: Southwest 1-2. Peachtree City 2-1.
Next: Peachtree City vs. Great Lakes, postponed to Wednesday, 3 p.m.