We finally know what it takes to beat Taney Little League ace Mo’ne Davis: an incredible diving catch, a lucky break behind the plate and one very patriotic “hang loose” motivational visit to the mound.
Davis was finally outdone on Wednesday, with the West champions from Las Vegas, Nevada jumping on Davis early and then using strong pitching to cruise to an 8-1 victory. By the end the game was so far out of reach that Davis and her teammates were grooving in the dugout, trying to refocus for a Thursday elimination game.
How did we get there? It started with aggressive swings at the plate from Las Vegas, which scored a run in the top of the first and then truly got to Davis in the second, adding two more. She got out of jams in both frames by striking out three straight batters, but then lasted just 1/3 of an inning in the third before being sent into the field after 2 1/3 inning on the mound. Taney kept it close for most of the evening, but Las Vegas’ lead mushroomed to 8-1 in the fifth and sixth.
That’s not to say that there weren’t key plays to get there. An incredible diving catch on the warning track by Las Vegas outfielder Alex Barker (see above) in the first inning kept Taney off the board and maintained the early West lead. In the fifth, a passed ball off the Las Vegas catcher’s mitt also underscored the team’s good fortune, wedging itself in the home plate padding rather than squibbing away and allowing runners to advance. The game was still 3-1 at that point, and there was a runner on first, so keeping the runner from advancing more than a single bag on the passed ball was a key moment.
Yet, the most important moment of all came immediately thereafter, when Nevada coach Ashton Cave pulled his team together and issued the following proclamation:
“Have some fun, big boy. Look, this is America. This is why we’re here. To play the game of baseball. The freedoms that we have. Embrace these moments.”
Here’s the full interaction as it played out live:
The Nevada boys embraced their supporting role in the national spotlight and moved into a dominant position in the American bracket at Williamsport as a result. Now Taney will have to find another way to win without Davis on the mound, not that she would worry, as she showed below with her moves in the dugout.