A trio of Little Leaguers with big league names channeled those high-powered personas to help Panama topple Mexico in the opening contest of the 2016 Little League World Series. With two outs and two runners on in the top of the third, Panama third baseman Carlos Gonzalez lined an RBI single into the 5.5 hole. The next batter, first baseman Esmith Pineda, drilled a three-run homer just over the right-center-field fence, giving starting pitcher Joaquin Tejada a four-run lead that would be more than enough support. Tejada was a bit shaky with his control, but he didn't allow a baserunner past first until the fourth, while striking out nine and surrendering just one hit and two runs in 4 1/3 innings of work.
CarGo 2.0 proved to be a dual threat in Game 1. Not only did he collect two hits and three RBIs and score a run himself, but he relieved Tejada in the middle of the fourth and whiffed the first two batters he faced on just eight pitches.
"This is not the end of the tournament. Maybe we lose one battle, but we are not losing the war." -- Mexico manager Antonio Rodriguez
Mid-Atlantic 7, New England 2
A pair of singles in the home half of the first set the stage for New York starting pitcher Ryan Harlost to help his own cause at the plate, and the 5-foot-10 left-handed hitter did so in a big way with a three-run shot to left field. Just one inning later, Harlost came through again, this time with an RBI triple to right. Rhode Island mustered just four hits -- two of them off the bat of Domenic Brazeau -- and rallied to score twice in the sixth, but New York's seven runs proved insurmountable.
Again, we have to go with a player who starred both at the plate and on the mound. Harlost went 3-for-3, with nine total bases and four RBIs while striking out five in as many innings pitched before handing the ball over to Jude Abbadessa.
"I think this is one of the biggest games of my life, easily." -- Harlost
Australia 2, Europe-Africa 0
Compared to the first two contests of the day, Game 3 seemed relatively low-key. But without much fanfare, one pitcher was looking to make history. Australia starter Clayton Campbell turned in an epic performance at Volunteer Stadium and was perfect over five innings against the Italy lineup. His support came slowly -- in the form of a run apiece in the second, third and fourth -- but it was more than enough for the ace, who didn't return to the mound for the sixth. Italy collected a pair of hits in its final turn at-bat and scored on a passed ball, but Australia's collective effort proved enough for the win.
Campbell was untouchable on Thursday evening. In five frames, he threw 50 of his 66 pitches for strikes, including first-pitch strikes to 10 of the 17 batters he faced, before putting away seven batters on strikeouts.
"I think I was probably about 8 [on a scale of 1-10]." -- Campbell, on his performance
Southeast 3, Northwest 2
The day's final tilt began with a literal Zach(k) attack, as Zack Reynolds started the game for Oregon against Zach McWilliams of Tennessee. The game remained scoreless until the third, when Reynolds provided his own run support via a two-run triple to right. But in the bottom of the frame, Tennessee leadoff man Tanner Jones launched a two-out homer to dead center to get his team right back in the game. The teams traded zeros until the bottom of the sixth, when Tennessee loaded the bases and, with two outs, No. 6 hitter Robert Carroll smacked a double to left to cue the walk-off celebration.
Carroll went 1-for-2 on the night, but he got the big hit when it mattered most, driving in two runs off Oregon's relief pitcher to give his team the stunning victory.
Another four games await on Friday's schedule. International play begins with Canada at Japan at 2 p.m. California then battles Iowa at 4 p.m., and the 6 p.m. game pits Curacao against South Korea. The last two teams to play, Kentucky and Texas, take the field at 8 p.m.