Imagine: You’re back in middle school, your very first day of class. On the way to homeroom, you swap summer stories with your pals, listen to their adventures in the lake or the mountains or some unheard-of summer camp. Then the question turns to you:
So, what did you do this summer?
Thirteen boys from Greenville, N.C. will have a very particular answer to that question - in fact, they don’t even know how they’ll answer it yet. You see, they play for the Greenville Little League team, which is competing in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Their next game is Wednesday, and if they can win that one plus two more, they’ll have an even better answer for their school buddies.
They can say they won the Little League World Series.
Here are five things to know about the team, officially playing as the Southeast Region representative:
1. They threw the first perfect game at the Little League World Series since 2008 in their opener. Chase Anderson started Friday night’s contest against South Dakota, tossing three perfect innings . Eventually Matthew Matthijs and Carson Hardee relieved him, and they kept the spotless performance intact en route to a 6-0 win. It marked the first time a team from the United States had thrown a perfect game in the LLWS (Mexico did it to Italy nine years ago).
2. Then, somehow, they were just as good in Game 2 against the team from California. While there wasn’t another perfect game, the team pitched a second straight no-hitter, the first time that’s happened in LLWS history. Additionally, Greenville scored 16 runs, which triggered the mercy rule in the fifth inning.
3. This is already arguably the best team North Carolina has ever sent to the LLWS. The most recent group from the state, Morganton in 2004, made the semifinals before losing to Texas. Before that, a 2002 Clemmons team went winless. Another team from Greenville, the Tar Heel All Stars, made the tournament in 1998. Then there’s the state’s first participant, Mooresville in 1952. That team lost in the first round.
4. The 16 runs Greenville scored in its second game is the most in one game this tournament, and its 22 combined runs are also the most. In the 16-0 win, Hardee, a third of the team’s dominant pitching trio, nailed a grand slam in the second inning to break the game open.
5. Their next game is Wednesday against unbeaten Texas. The winner will head to the United States championship game, with that victor advancing to the final against the international champion. If Greenville can defeat Texas and two others, the team will fly back down the East Coast with the championship trophy in tow.