By MERLE PEIFER
For The Outpost
There are unexpected sights and sounds all around in South Williamsport on Aug. 23.
On this cool morning, games do not start until 1 p.m. Thousands of people are milling around, eating and staking out their spots on the hill for tonight's game, which includes the team from Lock Haven, Pa. It will again be another crowd approaching 30,000 people, if not more, for this evening's game.
After checking through security, we make our way down the long steep hill to watch the Montana team take infield practice and informally talk to a coach.
The team from California is also practicing on an adjacent field. Their practice has just ended and the California manager yells over to Tom Zimmer that our team should also be done practicing. Tom makes his way to the outfield and they have a cordial conversation. I find out later that they had breakfast together earlier today.
The coaches’ conversation sums up the competitive atmosphere within the complex. During the post-game press conference on Sunday, the Montana players indicated that they look forward to playing the team from California. During the tournament in San Bernardino, they became good friends with most on the California team. It is understandable since Montana has always shared common dormitory shower facilities with California during the tournament in San Bernardino.
It was explained to them that the only way they might play each other, since the tournament format change in 2001, was if they both met in the Little League World Series. Welcome to the World Series.
Another interesting distraction occurred during the game between Europe and Rhode Island. While positioned under Lamade Stadium taking pictures, the grandstands and ground started to shake, ever so frighteningly little, especially for someone from Montana. The umpire coordinator for the game, who is from California, recognized it right away as an earthquake, but it probably went unnoticed by most, except if you lived in Virginia.
The 1 p.m. game has concluded, with Europe coming from behind to take the lead in the top of the sixth, only to be surpassed by the team from Rhode Island, who never gave up, and won in the bottom of the sixth. Good for Rhode Island.
Having just listened to the Japanese and Canadian national anthems, we are ready to start today's second game. Canada is the other Cinderella story here, having beat Chinese Taipei. They are now 1-16 against the Far East teams in Little League World Series play. Good for Canada.