Pearland East was eliminated from the Little League World Series after losing 6-1 to Chicago. With heads held high, the Pearland East players walked away as the fourth-place team in the United States out of field of nearly 7,000 teams. What an accomplishment in itself.
Chicago played a great game. Their in-field was incredible. At times, I shook my head and thought "wow, they are only 12 years old...what are they going to be like when they reach high school".
Walter Maeker III (last pitched in the Southwest Regional) and Bryce Laird (had not pitched in either the World Series or regional) kept Pearland East within striking distance. Maeker got half of his six strikeouts with runners on second and third. Had he not been able to do that, Chicago's score would have been much higher.
I have to say how impressed I am with how the coaches handle their players. In each situation or predicament a team was in, their respective coach gave them a pep talk, reminding them to remember to have fun. My favorite coach of all, so far, is Coach Dave Belisle from Rhode Island. If you didn't watch the games, here's his post-game pep talk after Rhode Island lost to Chicago on Monday night.
Here's his post-game speech, which ended with a group hug: "Heads up high. Heads up high. I've gotta see your eyes, guys. There's no disappointment in your effort -- in the whole tournament, the whole season. It's been an incredible journey. We fought. Look at the score - 8-7, 12-10 hits. We came to the last out. We didn't quit. That's us! Boys, that's us!
The only reason why I'll probably end up shedding a tear is that this is the last time I'm going to coach you guys. But I'm going to bring back with me, the coaching staff is going to bring back, you guys are going to bring back that no one other team can provide - that's pride. Pride.
You're going to take that for the rest of your lives, what you provided for the town of Cumberland Americans, this would be the greatest game.
The lessons you guys have learned along the journey, you're never going to forget. We're going to have some more fun. We have two more days of fun. When you walk around this ballpark in the next couple of days, they're going to look and you and say:
"Hey, you guys were awesome!" Everybody has said "You guys are awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Absolutely awesome."
It's okay to cry, because we're not going to play baseball together any more. But we're going to be friends forever. Friends forever. Our Little League careers have ended on the most positive note that could ever be. Ok? Ever be.
There's only going to be one team that's going to walk out of here as World Series champions. Only one. We got down to the nitty-gritty. We're one of the best teams in the world. Think about that for a second. In the world! Right?
So we need to go see our parents, because they are so proud of you. One more thing. I want a big hug. I want everyone to come in here for one big hug. One big hug, then we're going to go celebrate. Then we're going to go back home to a big parade.
I love you guys. I'm gonna love you forever. You've given me the most precious moment in my athletic and coaching career, and I've been coaching a long time --- a loooong time. I'm getting to be an old man. I need memories like this, I need kids like this. You're all my boys. You're the boys of summer.
So for the last time, we're gong to yell Americans: One, two, three -- Americans!"
What an amazing coach!!! I hope that I can be lucky enough to inspire at least one person as much as he has inspired the world with his ethics and being. Hats off to you, Coach Belisle!
Signing off with tears in my eyes,