The Yankees skipped the famed pinstripes Monday. The solid blue T-shirts and undefeated record was enough to earn the respect of the Orioles before the championship game of the Martinez-Evans Little League Major Division.
But the Orioles told themselves that anything could happen in one game.
They went on to upset the Yankees 22-16 at Kelley Field to capture the title.
"It's a weird feeling," said 13-year-old Nick Smail, the Orioles' starting pitcher and a five-year veteran of the team. "We're the underdogs and all. Everyone expects us to lose. We come out here, we work hard and we win. We worked harder, we practiced harder."
The Orioles took batting practice at the field the night before, with coaches throwing left-handed in preparation for Yankees left-hander Adam Sasser.
The extra time paid off in what coaches and onlookers thought could be the highest-scoring championship game in MELL history.
The Orioles scored at least three runs in every frame, and they could have closed the win with the 10-run mercy rule had it been in effect for the title game.
The Yankees won 11-7 in the teams' first meeting.
To get his team ready for the rematch, Orioles coach Craig Plunkett referenced classic sports movies such as Hoosiers and Remember the Titans .
"I preached it to them for a good solid week, and I told them I believe that they could win," Plunkett said. "Us coaches, they believe us. They look at us and they're young and I think they believe, 'Hey, we can win this thing.'"
The Orioles scored four times in the first, four in the second, six in the third, five in the fourth and three in the fifth.
The Orioles had a 22-12 lead entering the top of the final inning. But the Yankees, who had mercy-ruled many of their opponents during the regular season, were not prepared to concede. They loaded the bases with one out and Austin Shead cleared them with a grand slam, his third home run of the game.
"We had a real good shot," Shead said of his team's comeback attempt. "We just couldn't come up with it."
Yankees starting pitcher Adam Sasser praised the Orioles' defense, and others praised the Orioles' ability to punch the ball in the outfield gaps.
Plunkett echoed his eldest player, Smail, in pointing to the Orioles' work ethic as the reason his team captured the title after a last-place finish the previous season.
"That's the only way I know how to get better is to work," Plunkett said. "And they bought into it. And here they are."
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