We live in a cynical world that sucks a lot most of the time. Then you read a story like this and it's like getting a shot of adrenaline. A little league team out in California, opting for the name San Clemente American No. 2 rather than the usual "San Clemente Royals" or something, just won its Tournament of Champions in a year where they went from having no coach to being coached by two high school freshmen.
Chris Puckett and Cameron Shelly, ages 15 and 14, respectively, led a team of 12 to 14-year-olds to victory after a shaky start to the season. They were initially not even allowed to coach the team, but Puckett's father Gary persuaded the league to let his son and friend serve as coaches if he acted as a chaperone.
After starting off 0-2, the American No. 2's would only lose four more times to finish the season 16-6, with their championship victory being the most dramatic of the bunch. They were up 10-6 heading into the bottom half of the last inning when they surrendered three runs to cut the lead to 10-9 with one out and the tying run on second. Then it got crazy.
Puckett's father, Gary, described the dramatic ending. Pitcher Austin Reeves threw a third strike for what would have been the second out, but catcher Max Christian dropped the ball and it squirted off to the left. Christian had to either tag the hitter or throw to first base to record the strikeout, possibly allowing the tying run to score.
Christian picked up the ball and, seeing the runner approaching home plate, chased him back up the line, tossing the ball just in time for third baseman Max Herrbach to tag him out. The batter, meanwhile, had delayed running to first base, caught up in the moment. Shelly yelled "Throw to first," and Herrbach fired the ball to first base, barely beating the runner for a double play. Game over.
"Out of my 16 years of Little League, I have never seen a game end like that," the elder Puckett said.
According to the catcher's parent, a little league umpire, the team actually practiced that play. This might be my favorite quote of the whole thing—from the first baseman, who recorded the last ou:.
"It was pretty crazy," he said. "We learned it all from Chris and Cameron. They've taught us to chase the people back to the bag before you throw the ball. That was all thanks to them."
Something so routine to those who play (or even watch) Major League baseball, something learned early on, in little league even, and these kids learned it from other kids and executed it perfectly (with a little help). Pretty cool.
h/t Chad B.
Little League team coached by kids wins title [OC Register]