Taney knows Thursday's game is do or die

Isaac Schmidt, from Philadelphia, wearing the Taney Baseball jersey, played for Taney from age 4 to 12. He was waiting in line with his family to get tickets to the game. The line for tickets at the will call window, at the stadium behind home plate, at noon on Wednesday stretched around the exterior of Lamade stadium outfield from left field all the way around to the edge of right field.
Isaac Schmidt, from Philadelphia, wearing the Taney Baseball jersey, played for Taney from age 4 to 12. He was waiting in line with his family to get tickets to the game. The line for tickets at the will call window, at the stadium behind home plate, at noon on Wednesday stretched around the exterior of Lamade stadium outfield from left field all the way around to the edge of right field. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 22, 2014

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - As he watched his son's team give long-faced high fives at home plate, Joe Richardson responded to a passerby offering condolences on Taney's Wednesday night loss.

"That was the coffee," Richardson said. "Now we've got to wake up."

Mo'ne Davis and the Dragons held Las Vegas, the tournament's powerhouse team, to its fewest runs thus far in the Little League World Series: 8. But after scoring only one run themselves, Taney must now win Thursday night or go home.

"We've got to come back tomorrow," Richardson said. "With every loss, we've come back and we've refocused."

The game ran out of tickets faster than any other this series. Two hours before free ticket distribution started, a line stretched around the stadium, at least 2,000 people long. The 2,700 seats available were gone in 90 minutes.

Michael Sailor and son Sivan came in from Aspen, Colo. Michael Sailor was born and raised in Philadelphia and wore an official Taney hat and T-shirt, which he was able to snag before the merchandise started selling out.

"Philly blood runs deep, and you never turn your back on your home colors," he said as Sivan, 11, decked out in the Las Vegas team's turquoise T-shirt and hat, shook his head in disagreement.

The arena was abuzz with Taney fever.

Monique Hendricks, whose son Jahli plays second base, watched her husband Keith being interviewed on ESPN two hours before game time.

The interviewer asked: "Can you start by saying, 'When I watch my kid it's -.' "

"Nerve-racking," Keith Hendricks said.

During the interview, Taney fans walking by recognized the T-shirts and shouted, "Yeah, Taney! All day!"

Monique Hendricks said she told her son before the game, "Go out there and have fun, play your game, just like it's a normal day - just with a lot more people watching."

There were more than 34,000 people watching with rapt attention as the Philadelphia team fought back, but fell short.

Finding a bright turquoise T-shirt in the crowd was difficult, save in the Las Vegas parents' section.

Michelle Hare, mother of Zachary Hare, Las Vegas' leadoff hitter, said, "We're proud to be Nevadans. They're mostly talking about Mo'ne and not really talking about us - even though we won both of our games, not even going six innings," she said. "But I think it makes them go out and show what they can do."

Rich Cromwick, father of Las Vegas catcher Josiah Cromwick, was a little more direct: "It's going to be an explosive game," he said. "Nevada is going to be very explosive."

Security was ready for the large turnout, with hundreds of cameras, including two high-power HDTV units, fixed to the base of the scoreboard.

Those cameras have the ability to zoom and scan the stadium to identify faces and names printed on ID cards. The technology is especially helpful when it comes to reuniting parents and lost children.

"If a kid describes their parent, more often than not we can use the cameras to find them in the crowd," said Rob Muhelbaure, business development manager for Axis Communications, which provides the cameras.

The arena is also equipped with thermal cameras to detect if someone is jumping over a fence or trying to sneak into "the grove," where the players stay.

"It adds some level of second-guessing to anyone who might be considering anything," said John Ferguson, head of technical security at the stadium.

The grove is the most secure part of the property. No one gets in without an access card, and a real-time camera verifies that the face of the player or coach walking in matches the face on the ID card. No match, and an alarm sounds.

The grove is where Taney headed after Wednesday night's loss to regroup before Thursday's do-or-die game.


jterruso@phillynews.com

856-779-3876

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