Wednesday's main event featured the Southeast Region champion (Greenville, N.C.) against the champs from the Southwest Region (Lufkin, Texas). Greenville Little Leaguers made headlines this past the weekend when the pitching staff tossed two consecutive no-hitters, including a perfect game, the first U.S. team to accomplish that feat.
"I'm at a loss for words," Southeast manager Brian Fields said after the perfect game Friday. "These guys, they've done it all summer. They throw strikes, they work the zone, they mix speeds, and they get ahead of hitters. I can't be prouder of them."
In Southeast's opening game Friday, Chase Anderson, Matthew Matthijs and Carson Hardee combined for a perfect game, with no walks and 10 strikeouts in a 6-0 victory over Midwest (Sioux Falls, S.D.). The superb pitching contined in its second game, as Anderson, Matthijs and Will Casey combined to no-hit the West Region (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.), 16-0 on Sunday.
"Knock on wood," was all Anderson could say after his team's second no-no Sunday. "I mean, I can't believe it. It's unbelievable."
There have been a whopping 52 no-hitters in LLWS history, but until now, no U.S. team had done it back-to-back. Two international teams accomplished the feat: Chinese Taipei in 1979 and Japan in 2002.
As the boys from North Carolina took the field Wednesday, they had the chance to equal the most impressive stretch of LLWS mound dominance: In 1973, Chinese Taipei threw three straight no-nos.
Even though Southeast fell short of that mark by giving up a double to Mark Requena halfway though its third game, Greenville pitchers not only know they hold the U.S. LLWS record for the foreseeable future, but they also equaled the rare MLB mark set by Johnny Vander Meer. The Cincinnati Reds southpaw authored back-to-back no-hitters in June 1938, and the feat has never been matched.
Fittingly, and by total coincidence, Angel Macias will be officially inducted into Little League's Hall of Excellence on Wednesday night. He shocked the world 60 years ago when he pitched a perfect game for Monterrey, Mexico, to win the LLWS title over La Mesa, Calif. Mexico became the first non-U.S. team to capture the crown.
An ambidextrous pitcher, Macias threw the only perfect game in championship game history. He later played two seasons in the Angels organization before playing in Mexico for the rest of his career.
"It was great because we couldn't have expected the way it turned out," Macias told ESPN's Sebastian Salazar earlier this week. "How much pride it fills me with thinking of that 1957 team, and how this year's Mexico team reminds me of that special team that won it all."
This year's Mexico team will play at 3 p.m. Thursday against Canada with a berth in the International title game at stake. Mexico pitchers, by the way, recorded the only other no-hitter of the 2017 LLWS when seven hurlers combined to stifle Europe-Africa (Emilia, Italy), 13-0, on Saturday.