Grosse Pointe's Barr threw opponents, father a curve
South Williamsport, Pa. — Players don’t always listen to coaches and sons don’t always listen to fathers.
Preston Barr and his father, Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores manager Kurt Barr, could laugh about one such situation following Friday’s 5-4 win over Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in the Little League World Series opener.
Woods-Shores put together a four-run rally in the bottom of the sixth, starting with a double by Preston Barr.
Barr was also the winning pitcher. He worked 3.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two without walking a batter. One of the strikeouts stranded two inherited runners with Woods-Shores facing a 4-0 deficit.
“I knew I had to just shut them out,” Barr said. “I knew I could not give up any runs because we had to get back in and score.”
Barr recovered from a 3-1 count to get a called third strike on his first batter, giving him confidence in a particular pitch.
“My curveball was working for me early,” he said.
Kurt Barr added: “Yeah, to the point where he blew off my pitch calls on several occasions. We’ll be talking about that later.”
Woods-Shores and Honolulu, Hawaii, each spent more time than expected at Lamade Stadium on Friday.
Both teams emerged from long nights with victories in their final at-bats, setting up Sunday’s 2 p.m. game on ABC between the Great Lakes Region and West Region champions.
Little League Baseball would be happy to see the teams and their game adhere more closely to the schedule in the U.S. winners’ bracket.
For the second straight year, Little League is using a condensed schedule on the first Sunday to get down to its winners’ bracket finalists in both the U.S. and international divisions in time for all the players to be able to take in the MLB Little League Classic that night.
The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies will play a National League game at Bowman Field, a minor-league stadium that is home for the Class-A Williamsport Crosscutters.
Players from both Major League teams will arrive in the morning and be in attendance at Volunteer and Lamade stadiums during parts of the games that feature the eight teams who won in the first round.
Woods-Shores scored four times in the bottom of the sixth to pull out its win over Coeur d’Alene in a game that was delayed an hour and 39 minutes due to inclement weather in the bottom of the first inning.
The delays earlier in the day forced Honolulu and Southeast Region champion Peachtree City, Ga., to start late. The teams then came within seven minutes of the Little League deadline of not starting an inning after midnight.
In a game that tied the Little League World Series record for most innings played, Honolulu won by breaking a scoreless tie with Aukai Kea’s two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th.
Managing pitch counts and deciding when it is best to let an effective pitcher burn up his future availability are a big part of trying to get through a Little League tournament.
Both Woods-Shores and Honolulu will enter Sunday's game with one pitcher ineligible.
Honolulu will have to go without Kea, who started and went 6.1 innings in his team's opener, striking out 10 and walking one while allowing just two hits.
Woods-Shores will be without Barr.
Brennan Hill, who started then went almost two hours before pitching his second inning Friday, is eligible to take the mound for Woods-Shores. He held Coeur d’Alene scoreless in the top of the first, but allowed three runs, including two earned, in the second inning after the rain delay.
Pitchers cannot throw more than 85 pitches in one game, except to finish the batter in which they got to 85 pitches.
Throwing 66 or more pitches requires four days rest before pitching again; 51-65 means three days rest; 36-50 means two days rest; and 21-35 means one day of rest.
Pitches thrown to the last batter faced are not used against that count, which is how Hill and Honolulu’s Ka’ola Holt remain eligible.
Players are not allowed to pitch on three straight days, and there are also restrictions on number of pitches thrown and innings for players who appear as both pitchers and catchers in the same game.
Woods-Shores manager Barr said he had not yet named a starting pitcher for Sunday.
Caleb Okada and Kea each had two hits for Honolulu on Friday.
The West Region champions allowed just four hits in 11 shutout innings.
Second baseman Sean Yamaguchi went 8-for-13 with two homers and eight RBIs while Honolulu was winning all four of its games at the West Regional. First baseman Mana Lau Kong had five hits and scored eight times.
Kea and Holt were both 2-0. Holt had a 1.39 ERA, giving up just two hits and four walks while striking out 18 in 8.2 innings.
Tom Robinson is a freelance writer.
LLWS second round
Who: Great Lakes Regional champion Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores vs. West Regional champion Honolulu, Hawaii
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Lamade Stadium, Williamsport, Pa.
At stake: A spot in the final game of the U.S. winners' bracket at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Loser will face Midwest Regional champion Des Moines, Iowa, in an elimination game at 3 p.m. Monday.