SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Almost as soon as Connor Riggs-Soper recorded the final out that ended Coeur d’Alene’s dream Little League season, Coeur d’Alene parents and fans stood and enthusiastically applauded.
It was the kind of ovation reserved for champions. Even though CdA will not win a world title, it long ago validated itself as a champion.
Tai Peete and Riggs-Soper combined on a three-hit shutout as Peachtree City, Georgia, blanked Coeur d’Alene 3-0 on Saturday at the Little League World Series. The loss ended CdA’s summer-long run, although it still can end with a win when it plays Spain in Tuesday’s consolation game at 8 a.m. PST.
Either way, CdA has done something unforgettable.
“They were ready to play today. The bats just came up a little short, but I’m so proud of these guys,” CdA coach Sean Cherry said. “They’ve had such a great experience here.”
CdA became just the second team from Idaho to reach the Little League World Series and the first since 1999. It played Michigan and Georgia tough on consecutive days, losing a 5-4 heartbreaker to Michigan before running into Georgia.
The losses do nothing to diminish this team’s achievements and CdA has one last chance to show the world how good it is when it plays the Europe/Africa representatives from Barcelona.
“We never want the season to end, of course, but the pressure is off,” Cherry said.
“They were kind of surprised to realize they had another game against an international team. We’ve been going game by game so they’re excited.”
Braeden Newby gave CdA excitement, pitching an outstanding game. Newby threw five solid innings, allowing one earned run and striking out six. He was outstanding under pressure, stranding nine Georgia runners.
Newby kept Georgia off-balance, showed his summer-long growth and did everything he could to keep CdA in the game. Alexander Currie also pitched well and struck out the side in the sixth inning.
“Newby was on. He was free and easy and locating. He was sharp. It was a real pitcher’s duel,” Cherry said. “His maturity has grown by leaps and bounds.
“We’ve been working on his command of his emotions. He did that tonight. He rose to the occasion. He wiggled out of some really tough situations.”
Georgia scored single runs in the second and third, taking a 2-0 lead. Idaho threatened in the fourth when Chase Saunders and Cooper Smith both singled. Georgia second baseman Willis Maginnis quickly stifled the rally when he made a beautiful play, stopping a hard grounder, tagging out Smith and throwing to first to complete an inning-ending double play.
Saunders finished 2 for 2 coming off the bench.
“We’ve been talking to kids all year long that they have a particular role and that when they’re called upon that’s their opportunity to shine,” Cherry said. “He absolutely came through tonight.”
So did every CdA player Cherry has used at different points this season. The result is the best season in league history and one of the best in Idaho history.
The bonus is CdA gets to experience the Little League World Series thrills one last time come Tuesday.
“I’m excited,” Cherry said. “Let’s go out and have fun and play one more game before we have to get back to the real world and school.”
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