Ken Hoffman: Post Oak Little League team poised for World Series history

After a convincing tournament in Waco, the Post Oak Little League could soon make history. Photo courtesy of David Rook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

District: done. Sectional: done. State: done. Regional: done. 

That’s four tournaments down for the Post Oak Little League All-Star team, which will represent the Southwest Region in the most prized celebration of youth sports — the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. 

“We told our players at the start that we had six goals, now there are two goals left: win the U.S. championship and the Little League World Series championship,” says Post Oak manager David Rook.

“On the first day of each tournament, they gave pins to the players. It was an honor, and we were happy to get those pins. But we told the players they were only participation trophies. That’s not what we’re playing for. We’re playing for 19 wins and no losses, and if we do that, we will achieve our ultimate goal, the Little League World Series championship banner. We’ve got 14 wins. Five more wins to go.”

Tournament play has been a long, hot, dusty Texas road for the Post Oak team this summer. But when you play Little League in Houston, the road starts with a chilly weekend in January.

“Tryouts were in January and our season started after Presidents Day in February,” Rook says. “We had a couple of scrimmages and our season was 16 games, plus the league playoffs. Some of our guys played three or four games in the playoffs. We had three weeks of practice, and 14 games so far in the tournament. It’s been a total commitment for our players and their families. Everybody has bought into this. The boys have kept fighting and working their butts off.”

A cyclone in Waco
Post Oak punched its airline ticket to South Williamsport with an 8-0 whitewash over Oklahoma August 8 in Waco. The Regional was a show of force by Post Oak, beating Arkansas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma (twice) by a combined 43-5 score.

No wonder Rook and the Post Oak boys will be confident boarding a 7:30 am flight to South Williamsport on August 11. Eight teams from the U.S. and eight international teams will play a double elimination format. Post Oak’s first game is August 16 against the New England Region team. The game will be televised at 6 pm on ESPN2.

Five more wins...

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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