Unexpected move works out for Dragons

Mo'ne Davis pitched a two-hitter, striking out eight in Taney's triumph over Nashville. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Mo'ne Davis pitched a two-hitter, striking out eight in Taney's triumph over Nashville. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: August 18, 2014

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - The mass-transit bus hooked a right on Fairmount Avenue around 1:45 Saturday afternoon and pulled to a stop near the entrance to Grove Three at the Little League World Series complex.

Jack Rice, Taney's third baseman, stepped off first. Mo'ne Davis followed wearing a pink backpack. Zion Spearman carried a tray of McDonald's cups. The tournament's most popular team - and its superstar pitcher - had returned. The Taney players spent the previous night at their parents' motel after the water main broke in their dorm.

"We just hung around the hotel and had some fun," first baseman Joe Richardson said. "We played in the arcade and just talked."

The players returned to their rooms Friday night after watching the final game. They said they found a puddle on the carpet of their dorm. The toilets did not flush and the sinks and showers did not work, catcher Scott Bandura said. Players called their parents and reached the motel about a half- hour south of the complex around 10 p.m.

"I know it was a nightmare for the league," said Pam Rice, the wife of the manager and the mother of the third baseman. "But for us, it was a gift."

Erik Lipson, an infielder and pitcher, slept with his 13-year-old cat Xena curled in his arms. Davis - who had pitched her way to stardom a few hours earlier - hid from the public by wearing a hooded sweatshirt. She spent Saturday morning watching television in her room.

"All the kids slept in this morning to 10:30 and got a good night's sleep," manager Rice said. "I think they loved it."

An hour after arriving back at the complex, the Dragons walked together to take hitting practice in the batting cages. Their ninety-minute session drew a large crowd even though two games were taking place in the stadiums up the hill. The tournament's other teams have practiced in relative privacy here, but not the one from Philadelphia.

The Williamsport fans - who fill the complex in droves - have latched onto the Center City-based squad, the closest team to the central Pennsylvania town.

"Y'all better win it," a fan shouted.

"We'll try," Lipson answered.

Davis, whose celebrity continues to grow, had to be escorted from batting practice to the team's fielding session in a golf cart. Young fans, who scour the complex for player autographs, chased her. A tournament employee called the team from Philadelphia "a different animal." And a win Sunday could grow Taney into a beast.


Staff writer Melissa Dribben contributed to this article.

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