Though eliminated, KMC stars choose to play on
Stars and Stripes August 27, 2009
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — The television cameras went away and any pressure dissipated, but the baseball didn’t stop for the Kaiserslautern Military Community entry in the Little League World Series.
KMC played the Urbandale, Iowa, entry Wednesday in one of the traditional crossover games here, which are pickup exhibition games between eliminated teams. Official scores aren’t kept, and players play out of position and for fun. Some games are held at Volunteer Stadium, which isn’t used once elimination play begins, and some games are held at practice fields on the complex.
KMC fell 17-1. The Vancouver, B.C., team that beat KMC in the last official game Tuesday also played a crossover game Wednesday, falling 17-7 to Mercer Island, Wash. KMC could play in additional crossover games before leaving.
The crossover game tradition grew with the expansion of the LLWS to 16 teams in 2001. Teams that traveled great distances to be here but eliminated after pool play didn’t always want to leave before the Series was over, so Little League kept their dorm rooms open and let them stay to the conclusion.
Ed Prince, KMC’s manager, was in no hurry to head back across the Atlantic and say good-bye to the few players who will leave the Ramstein base as their parents are reassigned. Cannon Byrd was one, as Prince said he was headed to school in Georgia this fall.
“I don’t want to leave until after the title game,” Prince said. “I want the kids to enjoy all this has to offer. I want to enjoy it, too. We’re excited about being here, I just wish we’d have played better after being here.”
KMC finished 0-3 after losing a wild 14-13 game to Vancouver on Tuesday afternoon. KMC opened with a 16-0, no-hit defeat to Taoyuan, Taiwan, and then lost 13-0 to Reynoso, Mexico.
Matt Zembraski finished as KMC’s top hitter, going 3-for-7 with a home run and team-high four RBIs. Chris Holba had perhaps the team’s best hit, a grand slam home run for the lead in an 11-run fifth inning in the loss to Vancouver Tuesday. Jacob Van Parys led the team with three runs scored and Cody Prince added two RBIs. Byrd had two hits here, while MacKenzie Mueller, Kenny Martin, Dan Tolarchyk, Tylour Daubert, and Van Parys had one each. Michael Bega, Santee Jackson, and Tyler Pecht rounded out the roster.
Defense was an area Ed Prince wished fared better, as the team committed 18 errors compared to 42 putouts and eight assists.
“The kids were down again at the end, of course, but we got back up,” Ed Prince said. “It was fun to see them hit the ball, with the home runs, and finally make some plays.”
Ben Brigandi is sports editor of the Williamsport (Pa.) Sun-Gazette.