Mateo lifts Orioles ahead of Red Sox in MLB Little League Classic

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Jorge Mateo felt like a kid again when he arrived in a town overrun with little leaguers wanting nothing more to do in a major league game than chug Gatorades , rush to reach the front of the line at the ice cream stand and shout for every run – no matter which team scored.

The speedy shortstop keeping Baltimore in the hunt for the playoffs made the small stadium in Williamsport, Pa. sound like Camden Yards for one night. The Little Leaguers had a great time. The Orioles did it too, from cardboard runs to fireworks after the final.

Mateo fielded a bases-loaded double to left field in the eighth inning, driving in three runs and propelling the Baltimore Orioles to a 5-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night in front of hundreds of cheering Little League World players. Series of around the world.

“It’s something that reminded me of my own childhood,” Mateo said through an interpreter.

Mateo kept the Orioles 2 1/2 games behind in the race for the third and final wildcard AL spot, and Baltimore won the fifth MLB Little League Classic in front of former President George W. Bush and a sold-out crowd of 2,467 fans at Historic Bowman Field. Bush shook hands with Orioles and Red Sox players and walked into the stands to meet the Little Leaguers and their families.

The kids went wild when Mateo snatched a shot from John Schreiber for the three-RBI double and a 5-2 lead. Matt Barnes (0-4) took the loss.

“He’s been so good lately and it’s fun to watch him play,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.

Red Sox pinch hitter Franchy Cordero, called up for Worcester’s triple-A game, hit a solo homer tying reliever Dillon Tate in the eighth that made it 2-all.

“When they came off the pitch in the dugout I was a bit worried about some deflation, but straight away the guys are supporting each other,” Hyde said. “Our guys were really into it in the dugout.”

Cionel Pérez (7-1) took the victory in relief. Félix Bautista gave up a solo homer to Xander Bogaerts in the ninth, but still made his eighth save.

Among the fans were the father, brother and teammates of injured Utah Little League player Easton Oliverson. The 12-year-old boy suffered serious head injuries when he fell from his top bunk in the dorms. Jace Oliverson, the boy’s father, said Easton was due to return to Utah on Tuesday and would remain in a hospital there.

“I’m just thankful he’s still alive because I was pretty much told he had no chance of living,” Oliverson told The Associated Press. “We feel very lucky.”

The rest of the day was marked by the usual revelry now associated with a game in which millionaire big leaguers can act like kids for a day. Hyde and Red Sox manager Alex Cora made cardboard walks up the outfield hill outside the Little League World Series stadium. Cora’s father founded the Little League chapter in the manager’s hometown of Caguas in 1969.

“It was pure baseball,” Cora said.

The front row seats behind the dugouts belonged to 12-year-olds dressed in full uniforms and clinging to each pitch – well, at least when they weren’t chasing team mascots for photos or taking pictures. storm the hall between each round in hope. to have a major league player throw a ball at them.

“It’s really just to see the pure emotions in everyone, all the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Orioles outfielder Ryan McKenna said. “There were a bunch of kids wanting autographs. I said to them, ‘What’s up?’ »

Not much once the game starts.

Anthony Santander and Ramon Urias had RBI singles in the first against Boston’s Nick Pivetta. Pivetta, who lost to the Mets in the 2018 Little League Classic, struck out nine of 5 2/3 innings.

Enrique Hernandez made it 2-1 in the second with an RBI single against Dean Kremer.

“The kids have been great all day,” Kremer said. “It brought back childhood memories for me. Sometimes in this job it becomes work and you forget it’s still a game. Today brought that back for many of us.

Teams from Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and around the world sat just a throw away from the Orioles and Red Sox in the type of seats usually reserved in MLB stadiums for fans with deep pockets.

Graham Vinson, a 12-year-old pitcher/seeker/shortstop, plays for the Little League team in Hagerstown, Indiana, and, yes, he’s a New York Yankees fan. Vinson took a front row seat and said he’s a big baseball fan who likes to watch the games on TV. But when he wants the latest baseball highlights, well, he checks out TikTok, “especially the Savannah Bananas.” But he said there weren’t many friends his age watching MLB – although teammate Kaden Hall loves the Cincinnati Reds – and found there were more national hobbies. electronics for children his age.

“It’s all types of phones and stuff,” Vinson said. “It’s all Xbox and PlayStation and all that.”

That’s one of the reasons MLB started a game like this — to try to stabilize baseball’s declining viewership among today’s kids.

In Williamsport, they watched.


The 2023 game is already fixed: the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies will play the sixth edition of the game on Sunday, August 20. The Phillies lost to the Mets in the 2018 game.


Both teams are absent on Monday.

The Red Sox and Toronto Blues have yet to name starters for Tuesday’s game in Boston.

The Orioles open a three-game series Tuesday at home against the Chicago White Sox. The Orioles send RHP Austin Voth (3-1, 4.86 ERA) to the mound against Chicago RHP Lucas Giolito (9-7, 5.34).

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