Fresh off a 10-0 loss to Honolulu, Staten Island looked like it rid itself of its funk early Thursday, jumping out to a 3-0 lead against Georgia.
It didn't take long for Staten Island to see the game, and dreams of a Little League World Series title, all wiped away.
James Hooper drove in two runs on a double, and starting pitcher Tai Peete settled down after a rocky first inning, as Peachtree City scored seven unanswered runs to eliminate Mid-Island, 7-3, from the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Mid-Island's lead began to unravel in the bottom of the first. Georgia's Jansen Kenty turned on an inside pitch, sending it into the gap in right-center field. New York right fielder Robert Cavalieri failed to run it down, and Peete barreled around third to cut the lead to 3-1.
Later in the inning, with runners at first and third and one out, Jack Ryan helped score a run without a hit when he grounded a pitch that lost steam on the infield grass. Second baseman Gregory Bruno picked it up as the lead runner bolted halfway to home plate. The Mid-Island fielder went to tag the trail runner, who was heading to second, but the Georgia player put the brakes on, forcing Bruno to tag him as Ryan got to first and the runner from third scored.
- A day of celebration before the big game: How Mid-Island's supporters came out to show their support
More questionable defense cost Staten Island in Georgia's next turn at bat, as two fly balls dropped in front of left fielder Frank Scerra and led to Peachtree City tying the game 3-3.
Shortstop Steven Martinez then dropped a Peete pop up on the infield grass with two outs, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Hooper, pinch-hitting, put the game away in the bottom of the third. In a bases loaded jam, reliever Logan Castellano hurled a pitch on the outside part of the plate. Hooper then cracked it to deep center field, close to the warning track, driving in two more runs and pushing Peachtree City's lead to 6-3.
New York came out strong early after Honolulu shut out the team Wednesday night. Starting pitcher Derek Mendez lined a breaking ball into center to give himself a 1-0 lead, and John Calabrese collected two RBIs when he looped a pitch the other way into left field.
But Mid-Island collected just two hits after the first inning as Peete found his footing. 14 of the final 15 Staten Island batters were retired, sending New York to back-to-back losses after a 17-game win streak.
Peachtree City advanced to the United States Championship Game with the victory, setting up an offensive showdown with Honolulu on Saturday.
Peete ended up pitching five innings, allowing seven hits and one walk while striking out five New York hitters.
Mendez lasted two innings and was charged with four earned runs on five hits and one walk.
The defeat put sour note on what ended up being a dream run for the young players. Mid-Island won 15 games in a row before the tournament began, winning every qualifying contest while not trailing once. The overwhelming streak earned Mid-Island the Mid-Atlantic Region berth in the United States side of World Series bracket.
But Mid-Island's strong pitching — lacking their ace Bruno, who reached his pitch limit and could not take the mound again until this Saturday — ended up surrendering 17 runs to Honolulu and Peachtree City clubs that constantly made contact.
The losses dashed the hopes Staten Islanders kept that their local club could emulate the 1998 Toms River, New Jersey team that won it all. The group, which featured current New York Mets player Todd Frazier, was the last New York City team to win the Little League World Series.