The Taney Dragons Little League’s path towards a World Series championship – which would be Philadelphia’s first-ever – is now a bit bumpier.
On Wednesday night, Mountain Ridge Little League out of Nevada beat the Dragons 8-1. The Mid-Atlantic champs are now on the brink of elimination.
The loss doesn’t end the Dragons’ dream run. They still have a chance to reach the World Series championship on Sunday if they can best Great Lakes Little League out of Chicago on Thursday night, then beat Mountain Ridge on Saturday. The championship game, which pits the U.S. champion against the international champion, is set for Sunday.
The loss to the talented Nevada team wasn’t a total shock, but it hurt for the thousands of Taney fans who packed the stadium.
Like Taney, Mountain Ridge won its first two games, but by bruising margins. The team won its first game 12-2 and the second 13-2.
The Dragons won their first game 4-0. The team won Sunday’s match-up 7-6 after coming back from a three-run deficit. But, despite opportunities, there would be no late-inning rally against Nevada.
The game got off to a quick start with Las Vegas scoring its first run in the first inning off a triple to right field.
Then, national sensation and Sports Illustrated cover girl Mo’ne Davis settled down – fast. She struck out the next three batters to end the inning.
The crowd went wild.
From there, though, things weren’t so smooth.
Davis gave up a two-run homer in the top of the second inning. Her night was over not long afterwards after giving up six hits on 55 pitches.
As the scoreboard showed Nevada up 3-0, Taney parent Joseph Richardson said he wasn’t worried as he sat near home plate.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” said Richardson. “For us to only be down 3-0, I’m OK.”
Fellow parent Quyen Shanahan’s one-word response when asked about the game was a little less even-keeled.
“Intense,” she said.
Taney finally put up a run in the top of the fourth inning on a wild pitch.
The Dragons didn’t score again, despite loading the bases in the fifth.
Mountain Ridge later laid it on thick, putting up five runs in the sixth and final inning.
Joe Anhalt of Bucks County left before the game ended, but said he was still optimistic about Taney’s chances of winning a title.
“They can do it,” Anhalt said.
Mike Zolk of Northeast Philadelphia felt the same.
“We have nothing but faith in them. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have faith in them,” said Zolk.
Either way, Joe Richardson said he’s proud of the team.
“At this point, we achieved our goal, which was to get here to the Little League World Series and that’s why it’s kind of surreal,” said Richardson. “And now, the new goal is to try and win it if we can.”