Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League team advanced to earn a spot in the U.S. championship game after beating Taney of Philadelphia (6-5) on Thursday.
Since the Little League World Series went to a two-pool format — U.S. and international — this is the first time a team from Illinois has made it to the national championship. In 1958, 1962 and 1967, teams from Illinois were World Series runners-up under the old format. The ’67 team, Roseland Little League, was from Chicago.
“A lot,” [manager Darold] Butler said of how much he used the loss to Mountain Ridge as motivation this week. “Like I said, I really did feel like the game we lost was a blessing.
‘‘It woke us up. The kids, they’ve been more focused than they’ve ever been so far this year, and I think today’s game showed how focused we really were.”
Either Butler is a seer or maybe he just knows his team exceedingly well. Jackie Robinson West always has played its best under pressure.
Butler fell short of making an all-out prediction, but he said his team would see Mountain Ridge again.
And he was right. The team will face Mountain Ridge on Sunday.
Keep knocking em out the park fellas!
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