BRISTOL, Conn. - Newark (Del.) National knew what was coming from Taney Youth Baseball Association pitcher Mo'ne Davis, but could do nothing to stop it.
Davis pitched a complete-game shutout, leading Taney to an 8-0 win over Newark in the Mid-Atlantic Regional championship last night at Breen Field at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Training Center. The squad from Center City becomes the first team to ever represent Philadelphia at the Little League World Series.
Just 2 years after becoming Little League-affiliated, Taney is headed to Williamsport, where it will play Nashville on Friday. And Davis will be the first American girl since 2004 to compete in the Series.
Facing Newark for a second time in the regional, Davis was sharp from the opening pitch, striking out six, allowing three hits and walking three on 80 pitches. Only twice did Newark put a runner in scoring position.
"I was just throwing strikes. All my pitches were working. I wasn't throwing my hardest but I was throwing hard enough that they couldn't get it," said Davis.
Delaware was well aware of Davis' abilities after she fanned 10 Newark batters in five innings during pool play. However, it was hinted that Newark had figured her out late in that first meeting, but Davis clearly was one step ahead.
"She was on, she was in control from start to finish. She was great, I tip my hat to her," Newark manager Tim Bush said.
It wasn't just Davis clicking on all cylinders - the entire Taney team had a hand in the win. Jared Sprague-Lott, Zion Spearman and Jack Rice all had first-inning RBI and Spearman capped the rally by stealing home, giving Taney an early 4-0 lead.
"To come out and play from ahead is huge," Taney manager Alex Rice said.
Sprague-Lott (2-for-2, three RBI), stellar in the field at shortstop, added to his big day in the second inning with a two-run single, extending Taney's advantage to 6-0.
"They came to play today, from the moment they stepped on the field they wanted it," Rice said. "We asked them to give us 2 hours of the best baseball they've played in their life and they did it."
The six-run cushion was more than enough for Davis, who with the help of two big catches from Eli Simon in leftfield, cruised through five innings. Jack Rice (2-for-3, two RBI) and Kai Cummings plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth for some extra breathing room.
In the final frame, Newark put two on with no outs. Davis got her final strikeout and then a game-ending 4-6-3 doubleplay, completing the monumental moment.
"It means a lot because in the beginning a lot of people were a little bit doubting us . . . and we made it," Jahli Hendricks said.
Taney will take a bus ride today from Bristol to Williamsport, where action gets under way on Thursday. When Taney and Davis do play again, it will be a milestone not only for the team but for Davis and future female Little Leaguers as well.
"It does mean a lot to be the first American girl , but more girls should start joining boys' teams," Davis said. "The attention should not just be on one girl; more girls should join boys' teams so it is a tradition and it won't be so special."