In the 16-year-old Babe Ruth World Series, host team Greater Loudoun proved to have one more piece of magic in its improbable run.
A two-out, two-strike single by Conor Mullee scored Scott Van Dusseldorp as Greater Loudoun pulled out a come-from-behind 7-6 win over Stamford (Conn.) at Fireman's Field in Purcellville.
Greater Loudoun will play defending champion Syracuse (N.Y.) -- which beat Bakersfield (Calif.), 4-3 -- in the championship game today at 1 in Purcellville.
No host team has ever won the 16-year-old age bracket, but Greater Loudoun has proved its worth by pulling out four one-run wins.
"It's really amazing," said winning pitcher Joey Devlin. "This experience has been one of the greatest I've ever had in my life."
The evening started poorly for Greater Loudoun. Left-handed starter Casey Hartman lasted only nine batters, allowing four walks, four hits and a forceout. Greater Loudoun trailed 5-0 with one out in the first inning when Devlin entered the game.
Devlin finally quieted Stamford, getting a pickoff and a strikeout to end the first and cruising through the next five innings, allowing one hit and no runs.
Finally in the fifth, Greater Loudoun rallied. The bases were loaded when Jason Lombard hit a long triple to left field. He scored during the next at-bat on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 5-4. In the sixth, Devlin doubled and scored on a double by Ben Brawley, tying the game at 5.
Stamford regained the lead in the seventh with a single by first baseman Albie Simeone, but Loudoun proved to have one more rally in it. Devlin walked -- his third of the game -- Van Dusseldorp reached on an error, and Brawley singled. A sacrifice fly by David Ball tied the game at 6, and Mullee won it with a single to left.
"I was waiting for the curveball, he had been giving me a lot of those," Mullee said. "When it was 5-0 after the first, we were a little worried, but I knew we had a chance."
-- Sean P. Flynn