WILLIAMSPORT, Pennsylvania – Pearland’s Little League team played its first game of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on Thursday night and will advance to Game 2 in the winner’s bracket.
The game started at 7 p.m. Houston time and ended just before 9:30 p.m. with the Pearland All-Stars leaving with an 8-3 victory.
The team played a Hollidaysburg, Pa. team, which is a town about two hours from Williamsport, drawing thousands of local fans that outnumbered Texas fans.
The team started the game with high nerves but quickly found their rhythm and kept a perfect record.
“We came back as a team and we just, we almost became louder than the Pennsylvania fans,” said team member Kaiden Shelton, who pitched for some of the game. “Just because there’s 18,000, 19,000 people doesn’t mean we have to have that much nerves.”
Team Manager Aaron Cummings told KPRC 2 he expected a large crowd for the game against a home team. It was estimated about 18,000 people filled Lamade Stadium for the Thursday night game.
One of the fans was Pearland Mayor Kevin Cole.
“Seeing our own Pearland boys on that field, I can’t really describe my feelings except to say we’re Pearland Proud. We have been proud of these kids the whole summer,” Cole said, making the trip to the Keystone State for one game. “I represent 130,000 people, and so, why not bring 130,000 people to Williamsport, and that’s what I represent when I come.”
KPRC 2 spoke to Shelton’s mom earlier in the day.
“Don’t worry about all the cameras, and don’t worry about all the crowds, because these boys have never played for this many people, you know, and with cameras everywhere, so I’m just kind of, my ritual I guess, is just trying to get him in the right mind frame to be able to go out there and help his team,” said Melody Shelton, Kaiden’s mother.
Even Pennsylvania residents who are at the Little League World Series are kept a close eye on the Texas team.
“We always try to get the Mid-Atlantic Region, but I start watching regionals back when they first begin and then we watch and we pick out our favorites from all over the place,” said Joe Warner, who lives in Pennsylvania and tries to come to the watch part of the tournament every year. “Hollidaysburg is a pretty good team, they fought to get in it. Not quite the record that Texas has, but we’ll see what happens.”
The Pearland team will play again on Monday night at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. They will face either a New York team or a Hawaii team.
“I’m glad that we have the days off before our next game so we get to rest and re-heal,” said player Jacob Zurek.