Once the first pitch is thrown Saturday during the Little League World Series U.S. Championship game, the Needville Little League All-Stars will be playing in just their fifth game since Aug. 16.
That’s five in 10 days.
Texas’ opponent, El Segundo, California, is 4-1 heading into Saturday, but the team lacks something that Needville has gotten a lot of: rest.
After Needville defeated El Segundo on Aug. 21, the Californians had to win three games in as many days to earn their shot at a championship. Friday is their only rest day before the rematch.
That discrepancy, while common in this double-elimination tournament, is something that Needville manager Andy McRae knows may be advantageous to his team’s chances.
LLWS rules effectively dictate who can pitch for each game. Just six different arms have been used in their 4-0 run, but McRae told reporters that more can be used.
“Since we’ve stayed in the winners’ bracket, we have three, four other guys that are really good on the mound that we haven’t even gotten to them, because we’ve been in the winners’ bracket and been getting days off,” McRae explained, adding just one arm cannot pitch against California. “We got some arms still available.”
Seven different El Segundo arms were used in a three-game stretch, with all of them pitching at least twice already.
So who will come out on top? The rested or the barely rested?
As of Friday, the Needville side hasn’t said who will start. There’s also the prospect of Sunday’s game to keep in mind, whether Texas heads into the world championship or the consolation game.