Written by Caitlin Mazzola
"Unbelievable" is the word Chad Knight used to describe his game-tying homerun in the bottom of the fifth inning — an inning that began with the Westport team down to Sammamish, Wash., 13-6.
"It was just unbelievable...an unbelievable moment," Knight told ESPN in the aftermath of Friday's game at Williamsport's Lamade Stadium.
Even more unbelievable -- had you watched the game from the start — was the seventh inning, when Knight hit the game-winning RBI to score Chris Drbal and send Westport to Saturday's U.S. Championship game against Chula Vista, Calif.
Friday's rollercoaster of a Little League matchup started out normally enough. Washington managed to score in the first on a wild pitch from Westport's Harry Azadian. The boys from Connecticut answered in the second with a two-run homerun from Tatin Llamas.
Then in the third, Ricky Offenberg -- who had been moved to the top of the lineup for Friday's game -- hit a homerun. A series of hits and wild pitches followed, and Westport was up 5-2 and headed into the fourth inning.
That's when things began to fall apart for the New England Champions. Starting pitcher Azadian struggled against Sammamish, who sent their bench players up to bat. Ten hits, a walk, and one hit-by-pitch later, Westport was down, 13-5.
They chipped away in the bottom of the fourth with a triple from Offenberg that scored Drew Rogers -- 12-6.
Washington managed another run in the fifth to bring the score to 13-6.
And then the unthinkable happened in the bottom of the fifth inning.
It started with a single by Matt Stone, followed by a double by Matt Brown. Then Alex Reiner came up to bat and made contact for the first time during this World Series -- with a three-run home run, chopping the deficit to 13-9.
Charlie Roof doubled and Drew Rogers singled. Roof scored: 13-10.
Max Popken homered and drove Rogers in: 13-12.
And then Knight stepped up to the plate. That's when he hit his "unbelievable" homerun to tie the game, 13-13, with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
"We kept ourselves up, we battled back," Knight told ESPN. And boy, did they battle.
The score would stay that way as Popken pitched in relief to hold Washington at bay in the sixth inning. Westport went down 1-2-3 in the sixth to bring the game to extra innings.
But one extra inning was all the Connecticut team needed.
Popken pitched the seventh -- and though there was once scary moment when a Washington player was hit by a pitch and there were two on, and only one out, Westport turned a double play to get out of it.
The bottom of the seventh started with a walk by Roof. Drbal stepped in as a pinch runner. Rogers flied out, then Offenberg doubled.
Another scary moment happened after Popken reached on a fielder's choice -- Offenberg and a Washington player collided as Washington attempted to get Drbal out at home. Umpires reviewed whether that constituted two outs (did Washington manage to tag Offenberg? Did the out at home count or was the ball dead?) but Offenberg was ruled out, and Drbal went back to third.
There were two outs and Knight was up. With two balls, two strikes, and two outs, he singled to scored Drbal, and Westport pulled off the most dramatic comeback in recent Little League World Series memory to win, 14-13.
Knight will take the mound tomorrow in the U.S. Championship game against Chula Vista -- the team Westport lost to on Wednesday. But he's not worried.
"I think we're all ready and we're going to have a lot of fun," Knight said, concluding the interview and a game that will be etched into Little League World Series history for some time to come.