Joey Hale watched a little baseball on Monday.
In particular, the Goodlettsville All-Stars coach sat in the stands and took in the World bracket elimination game between Curacao and Vancouver at the 62nd Little League World Series.
Many of his players, on the other hand, took in the sights.
“I think mostly they are just being with parents and going to places around like Hershey Park [a nearby amusement park],” Hale said when reached on his cell phone. “I know Lorenzo Butler went to the mall with his parents. The rest of them I’m not sure.
“We gave them the day off [Monday].”
The team of 11-13-year-olds earned a break when they defeated a team from California a day earlier. That victory, their second in as many games at the event, earned them a place in the U.S. winner’s bracket final.
They need two more victories to reach Sunday’s title game. Their next contest is 7 p.m. (CDT) Wednesday against McAllister, Texas (ESPN).
“It’s pretty amazing, everyone is so friendly, I think, because we all have so much in common,” Hale said. “It’s fun seeing all the people with Southeast caps on, cheering for us and just enjoying the whole thing.
“People here are all rooting for their own teams, of course, but they are happy when the other teams do well, too. I’ve talked to some people who take their vacation to come here every year, just to watch the kids play and see good baseball.”
Hale said he met Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin, who was at the game Sunday and who did a short ESPN interview in the stands.
“He wished us well and told our kids good luck,” Hale said. “I think he’s coming back up here later in the week.”
Hale was still beaming about the four runs his team scored in the top of the sixth Sunday that broke a 5-5 tie and helped keep Goodlettsville unbeaten. Jayson Brown’s two-run triple down the right-field line drove in the first of those runs.
“That was a huge hit, and Jayson went with the pitch with two strikes,” Hale said. “But I thought an even bigger play came by Andrew Snyder earlier that inning that may have been overlooked.
“After Andrew walked, he was on first when Jonathan Seals hit a little flare into right. If Andrew hadn’t anticipated that the ball wouldn’t be caught, he would have been forced out at second, as it was a close play.
“That enabled the inning to continue, and Jayson got his big hit. Then Brock [Myers] hit his two-run homer. If Andrew doesn’t make that play, we probably lose, because Petaluma scored in the bottom of the sixth.”
Myers was the starting pitcher both games in Williamsport but completed neither because of the 85-pitch limit. He cannot pitch again until Saturday.
California’s team included Bradley Smith who, at 6-foot-3, is the tallest player in the tournament.
“We got him to make an out for the first time in two games,” Hale said, “but he hit a homer against us.”
Size is likely to be a factor in the game with McAllister as well.
“They have some big kids,” Hale said. “I don’t know what they feed those kids in Texas but they are very big. They are much like California.”