Jackie Robinson West falls 8-4 in Little League final
By Paul Skrbina
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Jackie Robinson West was looking to make history its story Sunday when it faced Seoul, South Korea for the Little League World Series championship.
But the team from Chicago's South Side fell short in an 8-4 defeat in front of an announced crowd of 28,671 at Lamade Stadium, which is nestled in the mountains of the Little League capital of the world.
No all-African-American team ever has won the world title. Former Cub Lloyd McClendon and his 1971 Gary, Ind., team finished second to a team from Taiwan, falling 12-3. In 1980, Gary Sheffield and Derek Bell led a team from Tampa to second, losing 4-3 to Taiwan. Bell returned with Tampa in 1981, a 4-2 loss to another team from Taiwan.
Jackie Robinson did its best to become the first in the sixth inning, when it scored three runs to chants of “USA, USA.”
“We’ve always had questions of baseball in the intercity and how to get more African-American kids playing baseball,” said Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard earlier this week, before JRW met a team from Philadelphia in a United States semifinal. “I think this proves it’s working.”
Seoul, South Korea was working Sunday, too.
The Asia-Pacific region champs scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings before a four-run sixth inning, punctuated by Hae Chan Choi’s home run and a two-run single from Jin Woo Jeon, made it 8-1.
Jae Yeong Hwang doubled in Dong Wan Sin to open the scoring in the first. Choi scored in the third on a fielder’s choice and Jun Ha Yoo singled home Ji Ho Park in the fourth. Sin added a home run to left in the fifth to make it 4-1.
Jackie Robinson West pulled within 2-1 after DJ Butler and Ed Howard led off the inning with the team’s first hits. Butler scored on a shot to shortstop that resulted in a fielder’s choice.
Seoul National (5-0) won its Little League-record third title. It defeated Japan 12-3 in the international final Saturday. Jackie Robinson West (5-2) won four elimination games to the final. It defeated the West regional champion from Las Vegas 7-5 Saturday in the United States final.