Little League baseball
KMC headed to World Series after shutout
It didn’t take long Friday for the impact of the Kaiserslautern Military Community’s 7-0 European Regional title-game victory over the Netherlands to sink in.
“We’re going to Williamsport,” said KMC coach Eric Vincent by telephone Friday after his team dethroned Little League Baseball’s European champions behind a masterful pitching performance by right-hander Justin Wilson at Little League’s European headquarters in Kutno, Poland. “It’s incredible.”
Vincent was referring to his team’s 8-0 performance in Kutno that earned KMC a berth in the Little League World Series Aug. 16-26 in Williamsport, Pa., but Wilson’s effort Friday was equally incredible. With pitch counts no longer a concern, Wilson pitched six-and-one-third innings of one-hit ball and struck out 12 Dutch batters.
“It was just domination by Justin,” Vincent said. “Everything was working – fastball and curve. He buckled a lot of knees when the batters thought they were getting a 70-mile-per-hour fastball and got a 40-mph curve instead.”
Wilson credited his dominance to the fundamental rule of pitching.
“I was just throwing strikes,” he said. “I was a little nervous before the game, but not for long. I got over it after the first inning.”
Wilson struck out the side to open the game, which was to become KMC’s fourth shutout of the tournament.
Tyler Woodbury and Levi Keltz clubbed solo homers to back Wilson’s pitching. Woodbury’s blast was his 10th of the tournament. As a team, KMC, which is 14-0 in the postseason, cleared the fences 16 times in the regional.
Far from being a source of pressure, however, never having lost apparently got the All-Stars loose in their title-winning outing.
“They went in relaxed,” Vincent said. “It was just like another practice.”
Vincent said the All-Stars, who plan to return to Germany on Saturday, will take a few days off, then begin preparations for Williamsport. Teams from KMC represented Europe in Little League Baseball’s premier event in 2009 and 2010 before the Netherlands broke through last year.
“It feels really good,” Wilson said about KMC’s return to Williamsport. “It’ll be my first time.”