PORTLAND, Ore. — Needing a win to ensure its place in tonight’s nationally televised Little League Softball World Series semifinals, the Elyria East 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars just couldn’t find their groove, falling 12-2 to the regional champs from Latin America, Maunabo, Puerto Rico, at Alpenrose Stadium.
Maybe it was a hangover from a tough 2-1 loss Sunday, East’s first in pool play, that was the culprit.
Whatever the case, East was simply unable to come up with the same energy level and momentum it had in its three previous games.
As a result, East won’t be on ESPN2, having lost in the formula for tiebreakers, but will instead play the Southwest Region champions of Robinson, Texas, in a battle for fifth place Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
“We just played terrible,” said an obviously frustrated East manager Len Howser, who repeated that same phrase over and over.
Puerto Rico, which advanced to the semifinals, scored twice in the top of the first to grab a 2-0 edge and put East on its heels from the outset. After East failed to respond in the bottom of the inning,
Puerto Rico added another run in the second and tacked on two more in the third to lead 5-0.
Elyria responded with a two-out rally in the third. After April Howser singled, Alexis Reinhardt sent a soaring blast deep to right field that the outfielder couldn’t handle.
Reinhardt circled the bases and scored right after Howser to make it 5-2.
“Their outfielder just made an errant throw so I just continued running and after I rounded second base, I was determined to run all the way home,” Reinhardt said.
“Our hitting was off today, but I was hoping that we would come back. Our fielding wasn’t very good either, but I think everyone just had an off day. We were all hoping to do a little better than this.”
Puerto Rico again continued it’s aggressive hitting and baserunning while adding two more in the fourth to go up 7-2 and then put the game away with five in the fifth for a 12-2 advantage that ended the game under the 10-run mercy rule.
Elyria had just five hits. Rybecca Kubisen had a double, Gabrielle Zerbini a single, Howser two singles and Haley Schultz a single.
Elyria East won its first two pool games by lopsided scores of 12-1 over Oregon and 18-0 over Italy before dropping Sunday’s heartbreaker to Virginia, which went undefeated in pool play.