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For the first time in baseball history, Louisiana emerged the victor of the Little League World Series. Last night, the team led a decisive shut out against Curacao, with a final score of 8-0.
Egan Prather, a pitcher for Louisiana, kept up the fantastic momentum he had achieved throughout the Little League tournament to keep Curacao off the scoreboard. Over his six innings pitching, Prather allowed only two hits across 88 pitches. This MLB-level performance tracks with Prather’s prowess throughout the tournament, during which he struck out 19 batters across 14 ⅓ innings and earned two victories.
As Prather kept Curacao at bay, his teammates rallied hard to bring Louisiana to a significant lead. A wild fifth inning all but guaranteed the team’s victory, as the team drove home four runs on four hits. During this inning, Marshall Louque, arguably Louisiana’s offensive MVP for the game, hit an RBI single that followed an RBI double from Reese Roussel. Louque’s single was his third hit of the day in addition to two doubles. Louque additionally brought home three of Louisiana’s runs over the course of the game.
Defensively, Louisiana bolstered Prather’s pitching with quick reactions to ground balls and wild pitches. Even with Curacao players loading all three bases, Louque’s guarding third base all but ensured that none of these players would reach home plate. When Curacao rocketed a ground ball his way in the third inning, Louque shot the ball home to Louisiana’s catcher, who made sure that the Curacao player running from third base to home plate never scored. Just a few pitches later, Louisiana’s defense reacted quickly to a wild pitch from Prather, preventing Curacao player Jurdrick Profar from stealing a base (Profar is the younger brother of a professional MLB player, infielder Jurickson Profar of the Oakland Athletics).
Louisiana shortstop Stan Wiltz also made major contributions to Louisiana’s sturdy defense. A line drive that Wiltz fielded led to more outs that kept Curacao, which represented the Caribbean region in the tournament, off the scoreboard. In a game against a different team the day prior, Wiltz also fielded a line drive and reacted appropriately to keep Louisiana’s foes off the scoreboard.
Louisiana’s Little League World Series victory may come as a surprise to some viewers who tuned into the tournament’s start. The team, which represented the Southwest region in the tournament, lost its first game of the tournament to Hawaii. Thereafter, Louisiana won six games in just eight days, including the Little League World Series championship. Louisiana is thus the first team in nearly 20 years to emerge as the tournament victor after losing its first game.
Following Louisiana’s victory, a White House trip may be in the cards for the team. House Representative Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana who serves as minority whip, first suggested the idea on Twitter. President Donald J. Trump seemed to concur, tweeting his congratulations and extending an informal invite to the team. Many winning teams from all manner of sports have declined similar White House invites from the president during his time in office.