One way or the other, the remarkable journey of Jackie Robinson West Little League was due to end on Sunday. And just like we expected, they ended it with their heads held high, showing fight right until the end.
No, they were not able to overcome the undefeated team from Seoul, South Korea in the Little League World Series finals, falling 8-4 despite a furious sixth inning rally. But they gave a team that had outscored its first four opponents 34-13 everything it could handle and made sure they earned the title of world champions.
South Korea, which won its first LLWS world championship since 1985, took control of the game early, plating a run in the first inning on Jae Yeong Hwang's RBI double and another in the third inning on Hwang's RBI groundout.
Chicago would catch a big break in the third after South Korea was unable to get an out on a possible double play ball. However, with the bases loaded and one out, Seoul was able to bounce back with the gloves, making two really solid plays to escape with only one run allowed.
That would prove to be Chicago's best chance to tie or take the lead.
South Korea added solo runs in the fourth and fifth, and then exploded for four runs in the sixth. Each of those runs would prove important after Chicago scored three in the sixth. But in the end, one of the most exciting and noteworthy Little League World Series in recent memory belonged to the kids from Seoul.
Sure, a Chicago win would have made a great story even greater. It's the ending they obviously desired, but it's not the ending they needed.
The kids from the South Side of Chicago had already shown us everything we wanted to see. They were confident. They were resilient until the final out was recorded. And above all they were classy, always respecting the game and playing hard.
They were winners before they took the field on Sunday, and they're bigger winners leaving the field, because together, they brought a city together and won its collective heart.
Shout out to #LLWS U.S. champions, Chicago's own Jackie Robinson West All-Stars. You made your city and country proud.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 24, 2014
#JRW, thank you for inspiring our city with your positive attitude, spirit & success. You young men will forever be champions of Chicago.—RE— Rahm Emanuel (@RahmEmanuel) August 24, 2014
That's about as good as it gets.
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