SOUTH WILLAMSPORT, PA - AUGUST 25: Jake Rucker #18 and Luke Brown #14 of the Southeast team from Goodlettsville, Tennessee celebrate after defeating the West team from Petaluma, California.24-16 in extra innings during their Little League World Series game on August 25, 2012 in South Willamsport, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
In case you missed it this afternoon, the team from Goodlettsville captured the U.S. title at the Little League World Series, and move on to face Japan tomorrow to win the whole darned thing.
But whoa, what a roller coaster ride it was. Leading 15-5 heading into the 6th inning, Goodlettsville only needed three outs to close out the game. Instead, however, the team from Petaluma, California staged a furious comeback, scoring 10 rounds to force extra innings. I was hanging out with my boys watching, and my youngest was just about losing his mind watching that lead melt away.
We've Seen This Before
As for me? I couldn't help but think back to Game 5 of the 2010 playoff series between the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks. After taking a 3rd-period lead in the United Center, the Preds were in position to close out the Hawks and take a 3-2 series lead back to Bridgestone Arena. Heck, they even had a power play in the final minutes after Marion Hossa boarded Dan Hamhuis.
Well, we all know how that worked out. The Game 5 Horror saw the Preds cough up a shorthanded goal to Patrick Kane in the final minute, leading to an overtime that never should have happened. In OT, they failed to convert on their power play and allowed Hossa to score the game winner just seconds after he came out of the penalty box. The game was lost, and the Preds were subsequently knocked out in Game 6.
That might have been the biggest meltdown I've seen in a playoff game, and I was worried that we were seeing a repeat this afternoon. Most anyone would have been rattled to fritter away a 10-run lead like that - heck, I know us viewers were!
The Boys Bounced Back
The Goodlettsville Little League team, however? They bounced back in tremendous fashion. They blew things open once again with 9 runs in the 7th inning, and shut things down in a business-like manner in the bottom of the inning to close out the win.
It was a thrilling win, and you have to think that surviving this bit of adversity will only help them out against Japan. If dropping a 10-spot when victory was so close didn't rattle them, nothing will.