The Petaluma Nationals won the first game of the Little League World Series Thursday, pulling ahead of Fairfield, Conn. to a 6-4 victory.
Petaluma Nationals pitcher Bradley Smith was the star of the game with four hits -- including a home run -- in four at-bats, and drove in three runs. Smith gave up five hits and two runs and struck out seven batters in four innings.
Petaluma Nationals pitcher Andrew White gave up one hit and two runs and struck out three batters in the last two innings. Catcher Austin Paretti had one hit and two runs batted in, and first baseman Danny Marzo had one hit and one run batted in.
At bar in downtown Petaluma, every table was filled as locals cheered on the team, including many who’ve known the boys since they were little.
“Our son has played with all of them from the time they were seven years old,” said an emotional Craig Jensen, sitting next to is wife Jennifer and some friends. “Even a couple of years ago, they were just slaying their opponents, but none of us imagined they’d go this far. There’s just a feeling of elation and a lot of pride.”
The bar erupted in loud clapping and cheering every time the Nationals got a run, never mind home runs, which were cause for an all out celebration.
“They are putting our little town on the map,” said Will Bomar, who stopped by with his wife Monika to catch the game. “This is even better than when the Giants won World Series. Because these are our kids."
Over at , former Petaluma Nationals coach Randy Plumbtree was lining up with 500 others to catch the game on the big screen. The theater said all proceeds from ticket sales—about $7,000—plus half the concession sales would be donated to the team to offset travel costs for family members.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” Plumbtree said. “They’ve got that combination of physical endurance, talent and good coaching. But it also helps to have the baseball gods pullin’ for you.”
On Thursday, as Petaluma National battled warm temperatures and humidity in South Williamsport, Pa., the baseball gods smiled on the team. But divine intervention or not, there was no doubt that the team's victory was the culmination of hours of rigorous practice and focus under immense pressure.
Several players have also battled colds over the past several days, causing concern they would be ready for Thursday's game, said coach Trevor Tomei.
"It’s good to get the first one out of the way and it was nice to get out today and play a game," Tomei said. "The kids were nervous a little bit, but we got it done. And we are very proud."
Petaluma Nationals next play this Sunday at 11am. Catch the game on ESPN or Petaluma Community Access channel 27.
-Bay City News contributed to this report.
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