CHICAGO — Jackie Robinson West and Pierce Jones wasted no time making their presence known at the Little League World Series.
Jones, the team's leadoff hitter, crushed a deep home run to right-center field on the game's third pitch in an eventual 12-2, five-inning victory over Lynnwood, Wash. on Thursday at historic Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pa. It was one of three homers for Jones, who also added a triple in the rout.
"Great win," Jackie Robinson West coach Darold Butler told DNAinfo Chicago during a brief phone interview Thursday night. "The kids were a little anxious, so it feels good to get that first-game jitters out of the way. I'm expecting more good baseball from our team."
The triumph advances the Morgan Park-based squad to the winners bracket in the double-elimination tournament and a 1 p.m. Sunday matchup against Las Vegas on ABC.
Justin Breen says this team has the confidence to win the whole thing:
"I never think I've had a game like this," Jones told ESPN after the win. "I think it was just a good game, and I hope I can carry it on to the next one."
Darion Radcliff added an RBI double later in the first inning for a 2-0 Jackie Robinson West lead before Lynnwood plated two runs in its half of the first frame.
But Jackie Robinson West responded in the second on Ed Howard's two-run homer to left. Jones followed with a triple and scored on a groundout from Trey Hondras for a 5-2 advantage.
In a five-run third inning, Marquis Jackson scored on a wild pitch, Jaheim Benton crossed the plate on a wild pitch, Cameron Bufford delivered an RBI single, and Jones mashed a two-run shot to left.
JRW scored again on a wild pitch in the fourth inning. Jones led off the fifth inning with another monster shot to left field while his grandfather, Albert Nelson, was being interviewed by ESPN.
"There goes another one," Nelson told ESPN of Jones' third home run. "That's good. That's very good."
Jackie Robinson West is the first team from Chicago since 1983 to play in the Little League World Series. The team has captured the city's imagination, and a few Cubs players showed their support by wearing custom-made T-shirts before Thursday’s game.
"It means so much to the city of Chicago because it gives such a positive demonstration of what can be done when parents, volunteers and children, when the community comes together as a whole," Annie Haley, Jackie Robinson West President, told ESPN during its broadcast of Thursday's game.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined hundreds of fans watching the game on a big screen at Jackie Robinson Park. He said the boys have made their city proud.
"While it is only the first round, they have already inspired the entire City of Chicago with their athleticism and their determination to succeed," Emanuel said in a statement. "They continue to remind us what all of our children can achieve when we invest in them and when we believe in them."
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